Ottawa County Parks Foundation – February Newsletter
Why We Love Our Parks
In honor of February, the month of love, we asked people to share their “love stories”; stories of why they love Ottawa County Parks, how parks inspire them and bring people together, and how puppy love helped build a park.
Jill Vanderstel – Enjoying the parks with friends in retirement
Living in Michigan I have always loved all four seasons. Ottawa County Parks have allowed me to get outside and enjoy all those seasons. This current winter, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the trails at Pigeon Creek Park. Meeting up with my girlfriends after they get out of work to cross country ski the lit trails, snowshoeing with another friend or cross-country skiing with my husband during the weekdays as we are all retired.
I also meet up with another group of ladies that come up from the Holland area. Half are skate skiers and half are classic cross-country skiers. The many groomed trails allow us to both ski our style and then meet up at the end. The lodge is also a great feature of the park. I have classic skies that are 40 years old. They have rentals at the lodge and it allowed me to try the newer version of skies before I purchased any. It is also affordable for people to rent either skies or snowshoes to get outdoors and enjoy winter. I am a retired Recreation Director, enjoying recreation time for myself due to the amazing parks and trails provided to residents by the Ottawa County Parks.
Darcy Dewey – Sunday trail runs & picnics
My husband and I looked forward to our Sunday morning runs at Pigeon Creek. We would pack a thermos of coffee, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs and have a picnic following our run. We also did a virtual run, the Bob Ross, Run for the Trees.
Jeff Larabel – For the love of nature & a little yellow pup
In 2004, when I set my eyes on this little puppy I said to myself, “I want that one”, the only yellow lab out of a litter of black puppies. I showed my family and they said yes. We called her Ginger!
Like our Lab we had before, we walked Ginger and took her to all the great parks she even visited Mackinaw Island. I found out about the “Holland and Park Township Dog Parks” and saw how much fun she was having interacting with all kinds of other dogs, running after others and being chased. I taught her to run up and down the A-frame and jump through the hoop.
The dog parks were a long drive for us, so I approached Georgetown Township with ideas to build a dog park within the community which led us to 68 acres of open space land at 3990 Fillmore, owned by Ottawa County. After walking the 68 acres we fell in love with all the open fields, woods, ravines, and two-track trails.
Ginger, my family and I got to experience all four seasons for a couple of years before I approached Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Department in 2006 and proposed a dog park for Ginger!
In September 2015 the park became a reality. Ginger got to meet and greet hundreds of K-9 friends and humans from all over Jenison, Ottawa County, West Michigan and other counties before Ginger passed away in 2016.
To know that Ginger was the inspiration for me to propose the Grand Ravines Dog Park and all the pleasure the Grand Ravines South & North brought to our family, K-9’s and their families, this will always be my favorite park, I love the “Grand Ravines Dog Park” at 3990 Fillmore Street in Jenison!
Diane Haworth – For the love of painting in the park
I love our parks in Ottawa county because I love to paint them. I meet friends or go out by myself all season long to paint the beauty I see. I spend about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a painting, which is just enough time to really drink in all the sights, sounds, smells, textures and peacefulness of a particular scene. I sometimes stand so still that wildlife forget to fear me and walk up to take a look. I have looked up to see deer staring back at me from close range. They never comment on my work and I appreciate their reluctance to judge.
A morning spent painting is never a waste, even when I wipe the painting later because I am not satisfied that I captured what I saw and felt. People come up to chat, especially parents with artistic kids. Kids provide great perspective on what they see as we compare thoughts. I like to think we are both enriched by talking about art. Nothing compares to a day spent painting, especially with friends, and most especially in an Ottawa County park.
Photo credit: Rob Routledge
When people think of holly in Michigan, most often the non-native American holly comes to mind, but we do have a native called mountain holly unfamiliar to many. Ilex mucronata (or Nemopanthus mucronatus of Michigan Flora) is found in bogs, swamps, lake margins, interdunal hollows, and wet woods throughout our state and in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.
Mountain holly, also called catberry or swamp holly, was once thought to be in its own genus, but recent genetic tests have shown it is closely related to other true hollies in the genus Ilex. In Maine, it is a host plant for the caterpillars of the Columbia silkmoth.
It may range from 3 to 10 feet in height. Dioecious, it has male and female flowers in May to June that are only about ¼ inch across. Leaf blade edges are variable and may be entire or finely serrated. Leaves may drop off in winter or may simply wither and remain attached. It has a persistent fleshy red fruit, and in winter the twigs are a lovely purplish color.
Does your employer have a match program?
Many employers match dollar for dollar the charitable gifts their employees make – some will double or even triple match an employees donation.
9791 Lakeshore Drive N
West Olive, MI
Kirk County Park is 68 acres of wooded dunes and, has 1/3 mile of Lake Michigan Beach. There are nature trails with wooden stairs that offer some really spectacular views of the big lake, cross country ski trails, and hiking.