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Everything is A-okay
October 3, 2013 - Diane Speer
Most days my job keeps me relegated to the office with only occasional forays to Thunder Bay Theatre or the Besser Museum or even directly across the street to the Alpena County Library - in other words a fairly small radius considering our paper covers a four-county region. But every once in a while, a story request comes my way and the schedule clears enough that I can venture beyond the usual narrow confines that too often make up my work world.
Today was just such a day, and it served to remind me all over again why it is I genuinely like what I do. The ladies at Hope Lutheran Church on Nicholson Hill Road were making big batches of sauerkraut the old-fashioned way and they wondered if I would come out and get a photo. At first blush, it didn't sound anything at all like a stop-the-presses, this-must-be-covered kind of story, but I figured it was important enough for them to call and it sounded appealingly fallish.
So, I came into the office early in the morning just long enough to check email, grab my camera and notebook, and then head south by car to Ossineke. Along the way, I caught glimpses of the morning sun glinting off Lake Huron. I turned onto Nicholson Hill Road where the entire stretch to the church was one postcard-worthy site after another - well tended farms with picturesque silos and harvested hay, trees displaying their glorious fall color, and even an Amish cart and driver pulled along by a trotting black horse. Yep, I'll take being out of the office in the name of work any day of the week.
I arrived at the church and was surprised to see the parking lot filled with so many cars barely after 9 a.m. on a Thursday. Then I entered the church basement and again experienced a measure of surprise over the beehive of activity taking place. Four different work stations were set up, including the church kitchen where 160 cabbages were being cleaned and chopped in half. It was the job of 92-year-old Helen Keller to then roll the halved cabbages on a cart to the next station where about five guys were using old-fashioned cabbage shredders. After the shredding, the cabbage went to another station for weighing and to have kosher salt mixed in. Then it was off to another bevy of guys who were mashing the shredded cabbage with handmade mallets in large vintage crocks. There's a lot more to the process, but at a later date I will be writing a story about it for the newspaper and sharing my photos, so I'm just touching on the barest of details.
Suffice it to say I was impressed. Twenty-seven church volunteers had gathered there, each warm, friendly and willing to talk to me about what they were doing in the name of service. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about it all and it will be a privilege to eventually write more about it for our readers.
We are not perfect here by any means, but there sure are a lot of plusses for living in Northeast Michigan. Today I am reminded from the beautiful scenery I viewed along the way and the great people I met once I got there that I really wouldn't want to live or work any other place. Being in the news business and just being a citizen of world, I'm keenly conscious that our country is currently in the midst of a ridiculous shutdown, that crime across the U.S. seems far too prevalent and that scores of people die every day at the hands of terrorists in the Middle East. But for this moment in time, in my little corner of the world, everything is A-okay.
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