Trees at former homes offer special memories

NIAGARA, Wis. — For as long as I can remember, I have loved trees. My memories of the many different houses in which we lived as a kid usually include the kind of tree that was in the backyard. And, of course, my grandparents’ farm about which I wrote last week had any number of trees that hold significant memories. And it goes without saying that the size of the tree in my child’s “mind’s eye” is remarkably larger than it truly stood.

The Metomen Street house in town had a tree right outside the back door. It was not good for climbing because there were no branches close enough to the ground to help us up into it. But it had very flexible branches so if my mother left her car parked in the driveway in just the right spot, we could climb up onto that car, grab the nearest branch and swing like Tarzan; my brothers even added the characteristic Tarzan yell.

The Lincoln Street apartments had a terrific apple tree in the neighbor’s back yard. Mrs. Hagquist was nervous about four young, energetic kids climbing in her tree, but she never told us we couldn’t — trees were made for climbing after all! But she did come out to check on us and told us to be careful. All four of us had our own place in that apple tree; the tree became many different things as we imagined space ships and castles, but our place within that imaginary world never wavered. I was the oldest and had the highest perch so close to the top that I can still remember swaying in the breeze along with the branches. There was a perfect fork just big enough to hold me. I used to tie a book onto the end of a rope, climb up to my perch and then pull the book up after me. This gave me hours of uninterrupted reading away from my siblings alone in a world surrounded by pink and white apple blossoms.

My brother closest in age to me had a perch not as high, but much further out on a limb away from the trunk. He was also the most daring of the four of us. I distinctly remember the day he decided that the utility pole next to the tree was probably close enough for him to jump to, grab on and slide down — wrong! He picked himself up from the ground and decided he had slightly misjudged the distance. He was also the brother who climbed to the very top of the poplar tree of the Thorne Street house. We heard him calling but could not see him anywhere in the yard — until we looked up. There was no wind blowing, but there he was swaying at the very top of that tree. Thankfully, he was able to safely make his way back to firm ground, but my mother got a few more gray hairs that day.

We all loved the variety of trees on my grandparents’ farm. Our adventures began before we even arrived at their house. On the way there we had to drive through a low, marshy area where willow trees grew over the gravel road. We wound down the car windows and dared each other to keep our arms out long enough to touch them as we drove by — our mother telling us all the while to get our arms back into the car or the willow leaves would scratch us. We always pulled our arms in at the very last minute despite our brave intentions.

As we rounded the corner to the farm house, we passed the grove of hickory trees. They were very tall, straight trees with no low branches at all so climbing them was out of the question. But we loved them for their wonderful nuts that my grandmother used in her baking.

Two giant pine trees stood in the front yard of the farm house. The one on the left held a swing that was fun, but the tree itself was not good for climbing. Its twin had wonderfully low branches that helped us up, and then it was an easy climb up branches that grew like rungs of a ladder. We climbed until the branches got too close together and then descended, our hands sticky with pine pitch and our clothes full of its green needles.

Down past the granary just beyond the pasture fence stood what was left of a tree that had blown over in a storm. The top was long gone, but about eight feet of trunk remained that had rotted out on the inside. It made a fantastic hiding place in many of our adventures.

But my absolute favorite tree on the farm was the mulberry tree. It was conveniently growing next to the big silver propane tank just outside the back door to my grandmother’s kitchen. That propane tank gave us a leg up into that tree where we spent a good amount of time filling our bellies with its purple-black fruit. We could never lie about where we had been or what we had been doing because our faces and fingers, purple with berry juice, told the story.

There was a small crab apple tree in the backyard. Even in my child’s memory it was small. It was extremely easy to climb, and a fall to the ground was not even far enough to leave us bruised. So, since there was no challenge to it, we did not climb it much. I do, however, remember my brothers having fights with crab apple bombs.

Last but not least, and technically not trees, was the small grove of lilac bushes. I loved them the most because my grandmother used to “play witch” with us using those bushes. She went into the farm house and came out transformed into the witch by taking out her false teeth, donning a shawl, and using a cane. She would hobble after the four of us as we ran all around the lilac bushes screaming at the top of our lungs. In fact, one day we were making so much noise that the neighboring farmer heard our screams and decided he had better check it out. Edward got on his tractor and drove down to the end of the road to find our grandmother chasing her grandkids — toothless! I can still remember them laughing.

Decades later I now find myself living in the Northwoods and loving the trees that surround me. The centerpiece of our backyard is a 100-year-old sugar maple whose trunk is so big I cannot wrap my arms around it. While I was busy working, nothing calmed the stress like an hour spent walking through the woods on a beautiful autumn day. Surrounded by the wind in the pines’ treetops or the rustle of the leaves underfoot, all the worldly cares just melted away.

I love being able to track the progress of the four seasons by watching the trees. There is no other shade of green so delicate as the buds that pop with the first breath of spring. Then, all of a sudden, summer arrives with its lush green tree tops — leaves fully out and blowing in the breeze. Autumn blazes in with its display of reds, oranges and golds. Once the leaves fall to the ground, I am in awe of the strength of the trees’ structure now visible in stark black against the cold winter sky sometimes exquisitely outlined in the dainty lace of frost.

Our son plans to move to Arizona in a few years and keeps sending us “pretty pictures” of cactus and mountain ranges. I always agree that it will be a wonderful place to visit. However, I know that the four seasons are in my blood… and I cannot live without my trees.






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m., Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.;

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; bible study, 1:30 p.m.; bingo with Carol, 2 p.m.; laundry day, 3:30 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m..; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Exercise: 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; penny ante, 10 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; western movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Community breakfast, 8:45 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; Easter egg coloring/night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; wild life film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United Church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; Easter party, 2 p.m.; classic movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler/you be the judge, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Exercise, 10 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day, every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know? 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; resident council/food committee, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; Easter party, entertainment by Jim Edberg, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Finish lines, 10:15 a.m.; Easter egg coloring, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; animal kingdom-dolphin, 10 a.m.; music bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Travel club: Canary Islands, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; Easter craft, 10:15 a.m.: monthly birthday party with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.; chaplet of divine mercy, 3 p.m.; joker-eno 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass/Stations of the Cross, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 2 p.m.; concert: Country Gents, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Veneration of the Cross, 8:30 a.m.; Easter egg coloring 10:15 a.m.; happy hour with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; bingo, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Music with Crystal, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Birthday party, 2 p.m.; Good Friday service with Pastor S., 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; kings’ corners, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; resident council, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; color eggs, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Manicures, 10 a.m.; Tom Palmer, 2 p.m.; cheese ball party, 3 p.m.; music with Grace and Dave, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; coffee break,3 p.m.; reading with Clover, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; flippo, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Monday: Soup, salad, meat loaf, baked potato, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, barbecue chicken, potato salad, calico beans, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Easter Dinner with Abby Miller at 4 p.m.: Soup, salad, Krupsua (Finnish pancake), potato sausage, fruit, and homemade dessert.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.  

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230. Menu for the week of April 15 follows:

Monday: Barbecue pulled pork, potato wedges, carrots, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Philly steak casserole, mixed vegetables, roll, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Pizza, tossed salad, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Easter dinner: Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, dessert and milk.

Good Friday: Transportation for Iron Mountain trip.

Saturday: Pancake breakfast, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $15.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

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

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

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Spaghetti or polenta with meat sauce, garlic toast, broccoli, fruit, juice and dessert.

Tuesday: Tater tot casserole, green beans, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Wednesday: Noon: Chicken chow mein, rice, mixed vegetables, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

5 p.m. meal: Barbecue rib dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, and dessert. Bingo and 50-50.

Thursday: Birthday Club: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, soup and salad bar, and birthday cake.

Note: Wednesday, April 17, a blood pressure clinic, 11 a.m. to noon.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.  

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets are available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 


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