Last spring, I looked forward to my retirement and had a long list of fun things I wanted to do. 5/31/22 was the first day of my retirement and included removal of what had previously been diagnosed as a benign cyst from my breast. The pathology report came back with a surprise cancer diagnosis. June included several investigative procedures. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with lobular cancer – a less common form of breast cancer that grows in sheets rather than lumps and does not show up in mammograms or ultrasounds. My cyst was coincidental but very fortunate – without that, my cancer could have developed quietly for quite a long time. Ultimately, I had a double mastectomy on 7/15/22 and on 7/16, I was back in for emergency surgery due to bleeding that developed overnight. Through September and early October, I had chest wall radiation… it was a rough few months to say the least, but I recognize that it could have been much worse.
Almost 9 months since my surgery, I will tell you that my scars speak of shock, fear, soul-deep weariness, pain and grief. They also speak of strength, perseverance, resilience, humbleness, humor, and great friendship and love.
I have enjoyed our Ottawa County parks for many years and in a variety of ways – I believe we have a park to suit most anyone, and I deeply appreciate what our parks and natural areas add to our quality of place in West Michigan.
Through my diagnosis and treatment though the parks took on added meaning for me. Walking in our parks was the most effective thing I found to manage swelling, regain strength, and improve my mental and emotional well-being. Beginning shortly after my surgeries, I prioritized daily walks and hikes in our parks, starting with very short easy walks whenever I could manage. I started by setting a timer on my phone. When it rang, I turned around – initially, I was concerned that I’d get to the far side of a park and be unable to continue. Sometimes friends joined me on these walks and those visits in our parks cheered my soul. Other times, I enjoyed the solitude of communing with the birds, waterfowl, and trees. Heavenly!
For anyone facing a wellness challenge, I encourage you to keep doing what you must to protect your health and well-being, even when it’s a bumpy road. For those not facing a wellness challenge – hurray! I encourage you to go celebrate your health and vitality in one of our fabulous parks. I invite you all to consider how our parks can be a part of an ongoing wellness plan.
Please consider joining me in making a gift to support our Ottawa County parks.
Welcome Glenn Bosch, OCPF’s new Coordinator of Fund Development
Spring marks a season of growth for many each year and the Ottawa County Parks Foundation is no exception.
Glenn Bosch joined the Parks Foundation staff as the Coordinator of Fund Development on May 1 of this year and will be responsible for outreach and stewardship to the foundation’s generous supporters. Glenn comes to the Parks Foundation from Indianapolis with over 25 years of fundraising experience, largely supporting education.
“My family has been visiting southwest Michigan for nearly 20 years and we have admired and enjoyed the lifestyle up here regardless of the season. A couple of years ago we decided to build a house in Fennville anticipating retirement. When this opportunity came to our attention, I jumped at it.”
While funded by the Parks Foundation, Glenn will work out of the offices of the Ottawa County Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Ottawa County offers so many outdoor amenities at its parks and other properties to encourage healthy lifestyles. I look forward to meeting the many Parks Foundation supporters who have helped make funding of these facilities possible.”
Please welcome Glenn to our community when you meet him.
Featured Plant: Green Dragon
by Bobbi Sabine
It may surprise you to learn that Jack-in-the-pulpit is not an only child. In Michigan, there are two species of Arisaema: the common Jack (Arisaema triphyllum) and its much-lesser-known cousin, the green dragon or dragon-root (Arisaema dracontium).
A native to the eastern U.S. and Canada, green dragon is found scattered throughout the lower half of the lower peninsula and has been reported in 25 counties. Though it is usually described as a wetland plant occurring in moist forests, riverbanks, and floodplains, I personally have a thriving community atop the sand dune where I live. It is quite content in part shade to full shade.
It has a spathe and spadix like its cousin, but they are much slimmer and more elongated. Leaves appear on a sort of whorl held above the spathe and spadix. The older and larger the plant, the more leaves it has. Left alone, it can get to a height of nearly two feet over several seasons. The fruiting body is a spectacularly red clump of seeds clustered tightly together on the stem.
The dried and aged root was used by North American native peoples in the treatment of “female disorders.” The leaves were chewed in the treatment of asthma. A caution: The plant contains calcium oxylate crystals. These cause a very unpleasant sensation like needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten, but it can be neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water. Alas, this does not seem to deter deer from eating it in my garden.
Photo Credit: B. Walters, U of M
What can we say? This trail race is Grand: Grand River, Grand Ravines, Grand bridges, and Grand views!
The course starts at Grand River County Park winding you through a natural surface trail until you hit the newly completed Idema Explorers Trail segment that leads you along the Grand River to Grand Ravines County Park.
If you are running (or walking!) the 5K, you will turn around at this point. If you are running the 10K, you will continue to wind yourself through Grand Ravines Park, around the dog park, through the meadow, across the Idema suspension bridge, and back through the woods to Grand River Park. Sounds pretty grand, doesn’t it?
Dogs will be allowed to run the 10K and 5K races with their human, but they must be on a six-foot leash at all times. We know dogs are a part of the family, we just ask that you be considerate of those around you and that you only bring a dog that is well-mannered and comfortable around people, including children, and other dogs. We want everyone to have a great time!
There is also a 1-mile kids run/walk.
To learn more and register, run over to the race website. Register before June 16 to guarantee a shirt.
Proceeds from this event support the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.
Breakfast/Lunch at the Park
We are looking forward to our 6th Annual Breakfast at the Park on Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 AM. This annual fundraising event helps support our mission of bridging community to nature.
This year we have added a second event on Thursday, June 15. There will also be a Lunch at the Park at 11 AM. The lunch is FULL. All funds raised at these events help support Ottawa County Parks.
A special thank you to our sponsors:
The Crane Family Fund in Memory of Marilyn J. Crane
There is still room if you would like to attend. If you are interested in sponsoring or attending, please contact Angela Miller-Niarhos.
The Stewardship Circle is our lead group of donors making an annual investment of $250 or more to help maintain and enhance our park system.
Featured Park: Tunnel Park
66 Lakeshore Drive N
Holland, MI 49424
Along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, this popular 22- acre park is a great place for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. In addition to the unique tunnel through a dune, this park has a children’s playground complete with a dune climb and a stairway with scenic views of Lake Michigan. Motor vehicle parking fees are in effect from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.