“Life is patchwork-here and there, scraps of pleasure and despair. Joined together, hit or miss.”
Birthdays at home
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI – Even in these unprecendented times, life goes on; babies are born, birthdays arrive, surgeries need to be done, and the Czech calendar shows it’s my name day today.
This morning, I wished a happy birthday and name day to our daughter Doc Emma, who works on the frontlines in France. Usually, she is surrounded by friends, not this time. The grandkids wished me a happy name day.
My nephew George welcomed baby Victoria into the world on April 1. Congratulations.
For my name day, I get a spring bouquet, but not this year. No one is going out to shop for flowers. That’s okay too, because I delight in my beautiful gardens year round. Instead of flowers, I got a trail mix. I will use it on my next trail walk.
Fellow Michigan author Darla Jean Davis of Holland posted this morning on Facebook that neighbors who could not open their usual farm stand dropped off a huge bouquet of daffodils. How thoughtful of them, they made my name day happier.
A walk on the old rail bed converted into a trail under the finicky April sun refreshed my spirits. The trail is 10 feet wide, so we could still social distance of six feet with fellow trail lovers.
We also got some manure from the Hidden Creek Stables on Belding Road for our garden and my roses.
In the meantime, the news continues to stream in at fast pace. Gov. Whitmer is expected to announce the extension of the stay-at-home executive order in Michigan by the end of this week.
And Easter is upon us starting with Holy Thursday, followed by Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. All these services will be celebrated without an audience for the first time in history.
There has been a lot of firsts in March and April.
I will color our Easter eggs in onion skins, since we had no time to buy dyes, let alone to buy a leg of lamb.
“You’re not going to drop of some lamb at my doorstep?” mom Ella asked.
“No, I won’t. We will have to do without lamb,” I said.
More scary news: a friend couldn’t get into the hospital for a critical surgery.
Local dairy farmers report they will have to dump milk because their main customers are closed.
Silver lining: the nature is awakening regardless the COVID-19 horrors around the globe.
And better times are sure to come, said Queen Elizabeth in a rare special address.
Stay tuned for day by day COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan coverage.
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
The nature oblivious to the Coronavirus horrors is waking up from its winter’s sleep.
I enjoyed nature’s gifts during my first walk to the The Franciscan Life Process Center: daffodils getting ready to burst open, birds singing and frogs croaking in the swamp off the gravel road.
Just under two miles, the walk covers a variety of terrain and vegetation enhanced by the beautiful landscape at the Franciscan campus outside of Lowell.
The ornamental grasses were neatly trimmed and the colors of the meadow were changing from yellowish to green. I walked past the vacant parking lot to the St. Mary’s Rosary Walk.
On normal days, the center is busy with arts and music programming. People from far and near enjoy the Franciscans’ offerings: everything from painting au plain air, music instruction, community gardening, trails to retreats in the yurts or the San Pietro house.
The gardening team is usually busy with their landscaping tasks.
But today it was quiet as the silence pierced my ears and only an occasional robin broke the spell.
I spent some quiet time on St. Mary’s Plazza as one of the sisters, who was walking her mutt Pico, greeted me.
“What a beautiful day,” she said.
“Yes, it’s gorgeous.”
At that moment I realized how fortunate we were to enjoy the beautiful Friday afternoon far away from the nation’s Coronavirus hot spots.
“What is your name?” the sister asked.
“I am Emma,” I answered. “And yours?”
“I am sister Mary Paula,” she said.
There has never been a need for social distancing outside the buildings at the center surrounded by open space. I walked the way of the cross several times and I have never encountered a single soul. The same goes for the trails on the 230-acre campus, where you immerse yourself in serenity.
When I got home, my husband Ludek was cleaning up around the outdoors furnace after a long winter.
“Let’s go somewhere, it’s Friday afternoon,” I said.
“There’s nowhere to go,” he said.
There is still nature left and its bountiful gifts for us to enjoy in the times of the Coronavirus.
Tips: Consider the COVID-19 quarantine as your personal retreat away from the society’s hustle and bustle. Let it transform you.
Featured photo: the retreat yurts at the Franciscan Life Process Center.
Stay tuned for continued day by day coverage of the Coronavirus crisis.
Lowell, MI – As the nature awakens, we celebrate Earth Day today. The first widely recognized Earth Day was held in 1970 when an environmental Teach-In group planned an event for April 22.
But every day is an Earth Day celebration to recognize the greatest resource of all, and that is our planet Earth.
To celebrate the Earth Week, I started my annual walk to the Franciscan Life Process Center (FLPC) on Monday. The 1.8 mile hike on a gravel road has been a staple of my mental and physical sanity since 1995 when we moved out into this northeast corner of Kent County in West Michigan.
I marveled at the untouched nature coming to life; plants vigorously emerging from the wet dirt from yesterday’s rains, robins hopping under the pine trees among the new ground cover.
Crisp morning air and dew covered the new grass and stems.
The area consists of preserved farmland thanks to late philanthropist Peter Wege, apple orchards, woods and streams. Wild flowers are now popping out in the woods, and morel mushrooms are around the corner, or should I say around the stumps.
I love the farm markets with the local produce starting soon with local asparagus.
Different trail systems like the Fred Meijer River Valley trails and Lowell Area trials meet here at the confluence of Grand River and Flat River. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural resources from the Bradford Dickinson White Nature Preserve in Lowell Township, Wege Wittenbach AgriScience center, Sessions Lake and Fallasburg Park. Hundreds of inland lakes dot the picturesque region.
The Midwest entices with its variety of seasons, landscapes, Great Lakes and diverse communities.
Lowell, MI- The first day of spring means new beginnings to me after the long winter. And even though everything is yellowish brown outside, I have a vision of everything turning green soon.
As I drove to a meeting this afternoon, there were still tree limbs on the sides of the road, remnants of the last winter storms with high winds.
However, by the parking lot, I found some new green stems pushing out of the hard ground. Also some trees are starting to show tiny buds and the willows branches have a sharp yellow color.
My friends at the meeting said they were excited about the afternoon because they would be outside picking sticks from their yards.
“Yes, picking sticks sounds good,” T.G. laughed. “I also have a great spring report.”
I couldn’t agree more. After long months of being trapped inside, anything outdoors sounds good.
T.G.’s spring report turned great as well. You can see it in the feature photo. T.G. has a beef cattle breeding farm. And with it spring brings calves, new life. The pictured black Angus cow just gave birth on the first day of spring to the calf by her out in the pastures.
According to T.G., this breed of cows, always gives birth to calves outside, not in the stables.
Annually, I take an inventory of the past winter and the toll it has taken on life. Some of our dearest have not survived the winter. We have lost my dad’s last living sibling, Aunt Marta. She passed away on January 7, 2017 in Stipa, Czech Republic. In February, we lost our first neighbor on Downes Street, whom we met, when we moved out into the country in 1995. That was Allegonda (Connie) Kazemier, born in the Netherlands.
The Lowell community lost a great artist, Jan Johnson, who has inspired generations of artists in the Greater Grand Rapids area.
But, I also look at the positives that have come out of this winter’s hibernation.
Winter gives me an opportunity to focus on some things that go unnoticed during the pretty live seasons of spring, summer and fall.
This may include projects that I have been procrastinating in finishing. Most of them have much to do with writing, and the development of writing projects.
But, this time I’d like to write about personal development, and by this I don’t mean weight loss or other personal gains and losses.
Over the winter, I’ve changed a lot of things in my lifestyle. I still suffer from insomnia, so I use the early morning hours to meditate and to organize my thoughts.
This gives me sort of head start into the new day. I like to go through daily readings in the morning before I start writing. It’s still dark outside, and I can only hear the fan by the wood stove humming. Sometimes, I see the Big Dipper in the northeast corner of my studio view.
I am not as dead set on goals as I used to be. As long as I get through some piles on my desk, and see sentences materialize in front of me.
I enjoy discovering new blogs. I find them a constant source of inspiration, and support. I found support in the Daily Post prompt @luck last Friday on St. Pat’s Day. As I browsed other blogs, I came across “My Invisible Illnesses.” The author among other things writes about fibromyalgia, a mysterious condition, that some docs laugh at.
Over the winter, I’ve learned to nurture my love for art so I can share it with others.
I’ve gained new appreciation for our Konecny family roots in the Konecny Saga, and I am working on how to share this so others can do their research as well.
I immerse myself in arts for reprieve and inspiration.
I still like to develop new projects on top of unfinished ones. I know it’s a no no, but I usually get back to the unfinished stuff as well.
I have discovered that the energy behind different projects keeps changing. Sometimes it rekindles old feelings, and gives them new light.
With spring I like to refocus and reign in some of that spring equinox energy. The warm sun is doing wonders on the mind and the spirit, as I pull tight jeans over the body.
I’ve increased the spiritual awareness of being and existence with the help of many of my spiritualist friends. I will dedicate a separate chapter to them, as I credit them with a lot of my improved health-being.
I am looking forward to this spring with a new set of eyes of appreciation and gratitude for simply being.
I dedicate this Spring Equinox Energy post to my son Jakub Pala.
“We did it,” said Josephine Marie Palova, at the end of a week-long babysitting sting in Hastings.
Yes, we did it. We made it through winter stronger.
“Climats” in Burgundy present a cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site
Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”
By Emma Palova
Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.
From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.
But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small courtyard in front of the house.
The stone house rises three stories with “lucarnes” or windows in the roof. Sources tell me that the house was a brasserie, before getting divided. After the division, the house lost the right wing, but none of its Burgundian charm or massiveness.
Surprisingly, the house does not have an adjacent vineyard behind it. New or old vineyards in Burgundy are hard to come by, according to my daughter Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent. However, a dream to get a vineyard sometime in the future may become a reality, knowing my daughter.
The journey from the corn and soy bean fields of Michigan, USA to the vineyards of Burgundy is about 4,000 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean. After an endless flight to Paris, we took a reasonable Uber ride for 45 euros to the Gare Percy train station near the famous Lyon Station, one of seven train stations in Paris.
I have a great affinity to train travel that originates in my homeland in Czech Republic.
The local train took us swiftly into Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, a principal wine-producing area. Travelling by train in France is a great alternative to the automobile due to the efficiency of the entire transit network.
Fixin sits on the Grands Crus Route which winds from the northernmost Chenove to Remigny in the south for a total of 57.8 kilometers.
You can ride it, bike it or walk it for a unique experience of a lifetime. Whichever you choose to do, there are accommodating facilities along the way like Hotel les Grands Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin sitting directly on the wine trail.
The “Balades en Bourgogne” app offers e-guided tours highlighting off the trail locations with châteaux, churches and wineries.
I’ve experienced the magic of this wine route during my three distinct visits to Burgundy. In 2009 with a base in Nuits-Saint-Georges, then in 2013 in Dijon and now I stay in Fixin in the north part of the Grands Crus Route.
The vineyards in the heat of the day are just as peaceful as they were a century ago when the monks established them. Perfect rows of wines in small plots that hug the slopes, are sometimes divided by stone walls, stone arches or by stone shelters known as “cabottes.” An occasional walnut tree oasis with a bench serves as an observation platform.
The UNESCO has recognized this complex magic in designating the vineyards of Burgundy as the “Climats,” a world heritage site in 2015 to be preserved for all mankind.
This small plot viticulture of vineyards that are terrain based create an impressive mosaic of more than 1,000 Climats lined up from Dijon to the Maranges.
“In Burgundy, when we speak about a Climat, we don’t look to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground,” said Bernard Pivot, writer and president of the support committee for the Climats.
As I walk the winding path through the Climats, in the distance a church steeple in Couchey shimmers with yellow and blue tiles. Only the bell tolls the time. The time has stopped here in the vineyards and the watch seems unnecessary.
I bend down to pick a bluish purple small grape, the Pinot noir grape variety of the region of Burgundy deeply embedded in the red soil. As the sweet juices touch the palate, I realize that thousands of years of hard work have gone into this one grape to bring it to perfection.
And that this second is the same as it was one thousand years ago when the monks established the vineyards.
The monks, the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the wine merchants and wine growers, have all carried the wine tradition over the centuries.
On the horizon to the left, I see the magnificent seat of Dijon nestling in a valley with all its museums, archaeological abbey, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the gourmet restaurants.
Walking from one wine village to the next, is like being born again with a new view on the world.
During my different stays in Burgundy, I noticed that some little things have changed, while the most remain the same. It’s that same stability that we constantly seek around us, no matter where we are.
Among the changes are: more bilingual tourist stations and chambers in the villages, greater use of the wine trails via bike tours, walking and hiking.
However, the steady constant vibrates in the romantic wine villages with stone architecture, in the gastronomy and in the exceptional Crus wines.
The Climats have given us the high quality wines sought after around the world. These include: Montrachet, Romanee-Conti, Clos de Vougeout, Corton, Musigny, Chevalier-Montrachet, Chambertin and more.
Unique and fragile, the Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, are our heritage, one that must be protected and passed on. Their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape” is part of this objective. This is a commitment that has been undertaken, and witnessed by the community of nations, to respect and to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Climats, as “combined works of nature and man.”
[Article 1, paragraph 3 of the Convention of World Heritage]
May events feature crowds & peaceful manifestations of passion
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- In the quiet of an early hour, between night and day, when two energies meet, I am waiting for the daylight to break in.
I cannot see the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting the Earth, because of the clouds. The ISS usually moves over my garden heading south around 4 a.m.
I cannot hear the first bird yet, because it’s not his time. The first song comes around 5:30 right at daybreak.
I should be meditating, but I am not. Writing is the best meditation. I should be doing yoga, but I am not. Instead, I am exercising my brain.
I should be checking my e-mail, but I am not. Writing this today is more important.
I am thinking about the relativity of events and happenings that are all going on in May. May is the month of love, according to Czech poets and writers. I too celebrate the month of May for its freshness, rebirth and beauty. According to chefs, May is the month of Mediterranean cuisine, and according to the government, May is the Military Appreciation month. It also used to be the Mental Health month, according to mental health institutions.
Most events happening in May are by huge crowd gatherings in pursuit of something. A few of them are peaceful manifestations of passion for something.
In two hours I will be going to the annual customer appreciation day at Jones Farm Market. My aging parents Ella & Vaclav are coming to join us for a day camaraderie.
But, thinking globally, today are demonstrations around the world against the seed giant Monsanto, the creator of Round-up and GMOs. Both have crippled the environment, humanity, farmers and agriculture.
To stand and watch what’s happening is being a part of the problem. Yet, I have chosen to go to the peaceful farm market in the country. It’s not because I am afraid, it’s because I value bonding with the family more.
Am I feeling guilty? Yes.
I will make up for it by using the power of the word. That is by writing about how Monsanto is hurting us in a very complex and sophisticated way on everyday basis.
Okay I have to stop now to get ready to go to the farm market.
If you still have time, you can get on the Internet and find out about March against Monsanto in your community at
Lowell, MI-I am always inspired by the annual Earth Day which falls on April 22, although some countries observe this during the spring equinox.
It’s not just about planting trees around this time of the year. The celebration of Earth Day is a wholesome awareness and appreciation of where we live and how we live.
I live in the country in West Michigan and love every moment of it. I am surrounded by farmers and their love for the land. Living close to nature gives me the fuel to create. I do plant trees in honor of new life coming to this Earth.
It’s a Czech tradition to plant a tree for every newborn. We planted the royal purple smoke tree for Ella in 2010.
In 2014, we planted a flowering willow tree in honor of Josephine Marie Palova.
Later, that year we planted a magnolia for Samuel Chavent.
This year we will plant a flowering cherry blossom tree or any flowering tree or shrub that does well in clay soil to honor Dominic born in August of 2015.
Our favorite gardening place is near Fennville, the Huntree Nursery. Here we get our currant bushes, that are a great source of vitamin C.
I am always humbled by the sign in front of the Wittenbach Wege Agriscience Center in Lowell, Michigan that reads:
May Peace Prevail on Earth.
“Look deeper into the nature and you will understand everything better.”