Winter is over. We had a day last week where the temps dove into the 30s, but I think we all know in our heart of hearts that those days are behind us. There’s nothing ahead of us but sunshine and warmer days for the next four to five months. And there’s nobody more excited about it than Mother Nature.
Earth Day was Saturday, and I have to say that she’s quite a showoff in Southwest Michigan. Last Saturday’s 74-degree day seemed to flip the switch on spring, and every tree started blooming or bursting forth a new-green coat of leaves. It seemed to happen in one day, and it’s got just about everybody salivating at the thought of the sunny days ahead.
St. Joseph is bustling with restaurants reopening for the season, Illinois tags populating the highways and locals flocking to the sidewalks and waterways. We still have a little time to enjoy the seasonal fare before the real crowd hits on Memorial Day weekend, but things are definitely starting to pick up.
My friend Kathy from Chicago is coming over every weekend now, and we made plans to see a play at the Twin City Players theatre Friday night, and we had dinner at Silver Harbor beforehand. That is my favorite St. Joe restaurant at the moment. Healthy, beautiful local cuisine is featured on the menu, and it’s right downtown. A walk afterwards is always a treat, and since it’s daylight until almost 9 PM now, there’s almost always time. The play was hilarious, and, if you live in the area and need a laugh, I highly recommend their rendition of the slapstick Move Over Mrs. Markham.
Saturday morning, I packed up Ashok and we headed to meet a new friend of mine at Indiana Dunes for a hike. I stopped in Michigan City for a quick bite at Panini Panini. This place was highly recommended by my friend Kathy, but I had some reservations as I’m not a huge panini fan. I was pleasantly surprised by a lovely little coffee shop/cafe/restaurant that serves just about anything you’d ever want including crawfish pasta.
I spoke at length with Bonni. She and her husband, Aaki (sp.), own the place. He is a classically trained baker and chef, and the food is “to die for”. There is no way I can do this place justice. The staff was personable, the environment was lovely, and the food was absolutely incredible. They are open for breakfast and lunch and are open for dinner the first Friday of every month. The website proclaims they were just named the #7 best restaurant in Indiana. The honor is definitely well-deserved. I had a breakfast dish called Croque Madame which was a ham and Gruyere cheese grilled sandwich on homemade bread topped with a fried egg. Perfection!
My breakfast and my server, Tony!
Nancy and I hiked trail #9 at the State Park. It’s my favorite trail in that park. When I lived here before, I ran it all the time. It’s challenging, wooded in places and climbs into the dunes lining the shoreline for about a mile. You get a little of everything. It was so clear yesterday that the Chicago skyline was perfectly visible across the lake.
Today, Kathy and I drove up to Holland MI. The Tulip Time festival is the first week of May, but with this mild winter we had, our tulips in St. Joe are in full bloom. Holland is a tad north of us so the tulips were not in full bloom yet. But I have to say I was impressed even with the first flush. The sunny day was a perfect backdrop for a walking tour of the quaint little town that has a large Dutch population and an affinity for the same spring blooms.
I didn’t rest much this weekend. I spent the time at home redecorating and repairing some things. I’m getting a new sofa and chair this week, so Kathy and I unassembled and moved my futon out of the way. I’ll be so glad to get some real furniture. Thanks to my tax returns I have a little breathing room this month. I even got new curtains for my living room! My neighbors won’t be able to keep an eye on me any more unless they make a concerted effort.
I’m working on a great project at work, and I’m pretty excited about it. I don’t even feel any Sunday night blues. I’m rather excited to get started tomorrow. Next week is the one-year anniversary of my layoff from my Baton Rouge job. Even though I was able to get back on eventually, that was a huge jolt for me, and I’m glad that is all behind me now. A new job with a great new project, a new season, new friends and new furniture are all developing rather nicely. I love new beginnings!