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Enjoying life at the end of a dirt road

Senior News

I have written often that I am not a native of this northern area. I have shared the fact that I grew up in a farming community and lived in a neighborhood — always with a paved street and never without a street light. I never saw any wildlife running through any of our yards. I never had to take a bus to school.

My friends lived down the block or across the street from me — never miles away. Snow was an annoyance that rarely kept us home from school, and spring mud was never considered a problem. And we would think nothing of taking a walk downtown to scope out the latest teen fashions at our favorite clothing stores or spend a quarter on candy at the dime store.

If we needed water, we simply turned on the faucet no matter how far the temperature had dropped outside the night before. Water came from the city, not a well in the backyard. And the city worried about the water quality and about the integrity of the pipes. Hunting was not a “season.” How do you drive for deer — and why would you want to abuse your car that way? What is a spaghetti feed? And what is gnocchi, and how do you pronounce it?

I learned quickly after moving “up north” that I had definitely been a city girl — or at least a “towny.” We learned quickly — and the hard way — while living in our little house in the woods in Pembine, Wis., just how challenging country living could be.

Especially if the house had been improperly insulated, the well was only a sand point, and we did not know enough to leave the kitchen faucet drip while we were gone over the Christmas holidays. What a nightmare that first winter in the woods turned out to be! I believed that we would certainly “move back home” before too long.

But then the snow melted, the spring mud dried up, summer vacation began, and we started to appreciate our surroundings. Charlie, the family cockapoo, could run loose all day and no one complained. He always came when he was called because there was no leash waiting for him. Our kids played outside all day and never had to worry about traffic since we lived at the end of the dirt road.

They did, however, wear whistles around their necks and knew to stay in one place and blow them if they lost sight of the house while playing in the woods. We did not need curtains on the windows because the deer were the only “peeping Toms” we had. Red fox, porcupine and a skunk or two visited our yard.

We also heard the whippoorwills every night near sundown — we could set our clocks by them. And the stars were glorious! Who knew there were so many up there?

That year spent living in the woods with our two little boys was really an adventure for our young family. We did eventually move into Niagara, Wis., where school was a walk down the hill instead of an hour bus ride, and the city did provide the water. But gradually the idea of moving back home was replaced with the knowledge that we had found home.

I realized that my transformation from a towny to a “near Yooper” was complete when I was working at the hospital. We had just hired a new family practice physician with roots in Manistique. She sent us a poem of sorts meant as an introduction of herself and to all she held dear. As soon as we read it, we knew we had a physician who would be with us for a good, long time and one who could easily relate to her patients. And when that poem even spoke to me, I knew that I was where I belonged. I share it now with you …

Dirt Roads

“What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved. There’s not a problem in America today — crime, drugs, starvation, divorce and delinquency — that wouldn’t be remedied if we just had more Dirt Roads because Dirt Roads give character.

“People who live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride — that it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it if at the end is home … a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

“We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids from whom they learn how to get along.

“There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape if they knew they’d be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun.

“There were no drive-by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse! People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous. They didn’t tailgate by riding the bumper of the guy in front or he would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks. Dirt Roads taught patience.

“Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly. You didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk. You walked to the barn for your milk. For your mail, you walked to the mailbox.

“What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part. Then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn, pony rode on Daddy’s shoulders, and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

“At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

“Paved roads lead to trouble. Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.

“At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August because if we didn’t, some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

“At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income from when city dudes would get stuck. You’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar … always you got a new friend … at the end of a Dirt Road.”

I have no idea who wrote this, but I want to acknowledge Dr. Charlene Greene for sharing it with us. Still practicing medicine and caring for her patients, she has spent the majority of her career at our local hospital and in her clinic in Florence, Wis.

Yes, my husband and I may have grown up in Wisconsin cities and towns, but we will grow old in the forests of the north country. We have grown to appreciate a simpler way of life. And while our “boys” have long since moved away and have chosen to raise their families in cities, they carry with them the values and lessons learned in the great north woods.

Oh, and by the way, I have learned to embrace hunting season. I realized how much of a convert to the northern way of life I had become when this bumper sticker gave me my chuckle for the day: “What good is tourist season if you can’t shoot them?”

——

NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus will not be published this week in an effort to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts.

Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways.

YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers also have been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. While some have reopened with limited seating, meals do continue to be delivered.

Some centers also are preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers who are either preparing takeout or providing home delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers all listed below.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curb-side pick up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday: Menu for the week —

Monday: Smothered chicken, baked potato, mixed vegetables

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans

Wednesday: Liver or sausage, potatoes, carrots

Thursday: Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cornbread

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center, Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Swedish meatballs, noodles, broccoli

Tuesday: Au gratin potatoes with ham, cauliflower, dinner roll

Wednesday: Barbecue chicken pasta, green beans, spiced peaches

Thursday: Beef stew, biscuit

Friday: Tuna salad sandwich, coleslaw, string cheese

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Now open with limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Salisbury steak, broccoli, garlic pasta

Tuesday: Pork chops, fried cabbage, seasoned potatoes

Wednesday: Cheesy brat stew, green beans, cornbread

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken fettucini alfredo with peas, spinach, fruit

Tuesday: Cook’s Choice entrée, vegetables, fruit

Wednesday: Mushroom Swiss burger, western baked beans, tomato salad, fruit, brownies

Thursday: Fish tacos with coleslaw, salsa, tomatoes, olives and onion, carrot salad, watermelon

Friday: Pork chops, mashed potatoes, squash, fruit

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 — RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 — RSVP for meals.

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 – RSVP for meals

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Now open with limited seating 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Home-delivered and/or takeout only on Thursdays. Menu for week —

Monday: Cabbage rolls, waxed beans, garlic bread

Tuesday: Philly casserole, carrots, roll

Wednesday: Sub sandwich, pasta salad

Thursday: Chicken Alfredo, noodles, Italian vegetables, breadstick

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up — must call ahead and wear a mask when picking up. Menu for the week —

Monday: Roast beef over bread, Brussel sprouts, red potatoes, fruit, juice, milk, dessert

Tuesday: Country-fried steak, baked potato, cream corn, fruit, juice, milk, bread, dessert

Wednesday: Liver or burger and onions, broccoli, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit, juice, milk, bread, dessert

Thursday: Chicken bacon Alfredo over noodles, carrots and onions, fruit, juice, milk, bread, dessert

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week –

Tuesday: Chicken cordon bleu, mashed potatoes, peas, pears

Wednesday: Biscuits and sausage gravy, hash browns, apple slices

Thursday: Hamburgers, potato wedges, baked beans, apricots

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