Nature

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By Mary Meldrum

As more and more of our rural areas are developed, certain wild animals have learned to adapt and have reclaimed some space within our urban areas. The opossum is one of these animals. As their natural habitat in the Detroit area and outlying cities like Ferndale disappeared over time, like many other animals, opossums were forced into closer proximity to humans.

While they may resemble rats in some ways, opossums are not really related to rats at all. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. Marsupials are archetypal mammals that cannot produce a placenta, and instead sport a pouch in which they carry and suckle their young. Do not let their slow movements fool you. With their opposable ‘thumb’ toes and their prehensile tails, they are great climbers. You may have seen one hanging upside down by their tail in a tree. They are also rather smart and have fantastic memories.

Opossums are interesting animals. Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills, and the young are referred to as joeys, just like kangaroos. Opossums have an impressive 50 teeth and are the quintessential omnivore. They eliminate rodents, snakes and insects and are the urban
“groundskeepers” in most cities. They eat over-ripe fruit, grass, leaves, frogs, birds, fish, eggs, snails, slugs, moles and garbage. The insects that they eat include cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etc., and they also catch and eat mice and rats. They are scavengers as well, and consume carrion, cleaning up dead animals of all types.

They are generally docile and non-aggressive, and will not attack your pets. They prefer to avoid any confrontations and do not like to be cornered. When challenged and they cannot escape, they might hiss, growl, belch, urinate, defecate, and if all else fails, play dead. They will show their teeth or bite in self-defense as most wild animals do.

A zoonotic disease is a disease passed between animals and humans. People can contract diseases from any animal, including their pets. While opossums are known to carry a variety of diseases, not all opossums are infected with disease and they do not carry rabies. Since marsupials are a rather ancient form of mammal, their body temperatures are too low to harbor rabies. The low body temperature is also why they move so slowly. When in close proximity to any wild animal, keep your distance and use common sense, but the chance of catching any disease is slim.

Because opossums do not hibernate in the cold months of winter, surviving during this time is especially difficult for them. They frequently change their nocturnal foraging and hunting habits in order to be out in the warmer temperatures during the day.

Opossums are nocturnal animals, usually hunting at night. They have poor eyesight, but rely on their excellent sense of smell to find and hunt food.

If you have been having regular visits from a local opossum, there is likely a food source that they return to regularly. In order to get rid of opossums, you have to remove the source of their food. Do not put out seed for the birds and squirrels. Clean your barbeque grill and the grease traps. Feed your pets indoors. Secure your trash with tight lids, and pick up any fallen fruit from nearby fruit trees.

When Ferndale residents experience an opossum as a nuisance, they typically call the police or the Oakland County Animal Control division. These organizations do not handle wildlife nuisance cases, and will direct the caller to the Michigan DNR office. The DNR also does not handle wildlife nuisance or removal in residential areas. However, the DNR keeps a robust list of state permitted Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Control organizations that a resident can contact to have the opossum removed.

It may come as a surprise to some people that opossum is a game animal and may be taken year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license in safe, designated hunting areas. It should be noted, however, that no one is allowed to hunt anything in Ferndale! Opossum hunting is done for fur harvesting by some, and it is usually done at night with the use of artificial lights and dogs. More specific information regarding regulations on opossum hunting and trapping can be found on the DNR website.

It is important to remember that the opossums that reside alongside us in Ferndale are our gentle wild neighbors who are just trying to make a living like all of us. They often get a bum rap as a pest, but are really pretty non-intrusive helpful critters.

If you are a fan of the opossum, there are others like you. The Opossum Society of the United States is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education. Contact them with any questions, information or enthusiasm about all things opossum!

Story by Malissa Martin
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

THERE ARE SOME CHANGES BEING MADE AT THE CITY OF FERNDALE’S PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT. One of the most recent is the installment of new Director Lareina Wheeler, who replaced Jillian Manchik on March 13, 2017. Wheeler previously worked for the City of Detroit for 15 years as an environmental specialist, where she worked on big projects such as the Link Detroit Greenway/Dequindre cut extension, Detroit Riverfront redevelopment and Inner Circle Greenway project. She’s also owned One Life Fitness for over 12 years.

The next changes coming are upgrades to the parks, while they get ready for summer activities. Wheeler said their Master Plan was recently approved, and upgrades should happen throughout the next two years. “There are a lot of wish-list items we are definitely going to try to tackle and make happen. For this year, we’re starting with Martin Road Park, some improvements in that park.” The list includes: walking pads, splash pads, adult exercising equipment, sitting gardens, new play equipment, pavilion upgrades, ball field upgrades, and more. “The main things would be the splash pad, city garden, walking path, and adult exercise equipment.”

Creating opportunities for family and friends to spend time together at one of the 14 community parks in Ferndale is the goal of the Department. Wheeler said the department is open to suggestions from the public on their vision. “They can definitely be included in the planning process because we’re focusing on forward-thinking. We want our parks to be modern, we want them to be innovated, and we want them to meet the needs of the community.”

Ferndale’s parks provide a unique outdoor space for residents and visitors to enjoy. Summer youth programs and adult leagues are now taking registrations. Many summer events will take place at the park. The parks are maintained by the City’s Department of Public Works. Programs and rentals are managed by the Recreation Department.

MARTIN ROAD PARK
Located at 1615 E. Lewiston Avenue, Martin Road Park is classified as a community park and is the largest park in the city with almost 32 acres to enjoy. A few of the park’s amenities are shared with Webb Elementary School. Martin Road Park amenities include basketball hoops, concession stands, grills, picnic tables, in-line skating rink, park benches, pavilions and pavilion tables, play structures, sledding path, football field (on school property), full soccer field (Dream Field), two small soccer fields, two softball fields (on school property), walking trails, restrooms, drinking fountains, large open space area, and off-street parking lots.

DETROIT CURLING CLUB/ FERNDALE ACTIVITY CENTER
The Detroit Curling Club, founded in 1885, partnered with The City of Ferndale in the early 2000s to share the club’s building at Martin Road Park. The agreement allows each party use of the building for six months per year. The amenities for the Detroit Curling Club/ Ferndale Activity Center include four sheets of curling ice (winter months), a large open indoor area (summer months), meeting room, office, kitchen, and bathrooms.

HARDING PAR
Harding Park is classified as a community park, located at the corner of Mapledale St. and Paxton St. The large, 17 acres wooded park includes two basketball courts, in-line skating rink (lighted), softball field, full soccer field, two small soccer fields, baseball field, play structure, picnic tables, park benches, restrooms, drinking fountains, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

GEARY PARK
This neighborhood park is the third largest in the city, with over nine acres and is located at 1198 Earl Boulevard. Amenities for Geary Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), baseball field, softball field, play structures, picnic tables, grills, pavilion, restrooms, benches, drinking fountain, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

WILSON PARK
Set next to University High School, Wilson Park is the only dog park in the city. It’s located on University St. and Hilton Road, and has an acreage of 7.34. Amenities for Wilson Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), small softball field (on school property), basketball court, play structure, picnic tables, grills, picnic benches, dog park, restrooms, drinking fountains, and an off-street parking lot.

GARBUTT PARK
Garbutt Park, with almost seven acres, is located at 200 Gardendale Street. The park received its latest update in 2015 when it upgraded the playground area. It’s the only Ferndale park to have earth play mounds; earthen formations such as hills to divide areas naturally. Amenities for Garbutt Park includes softball field, soccer field, play structures, walking trail, earth play mounds, picnic tables, grills, park benches, drinking fountain, and restrooms.

LENNON MEMORIAL PARK (MAPLEDALE PARK)
Named after Ferndale’s former mayor, Bernie Lennon, Lennon Memorial Park is also known as Mapledale Park because of its location on the said street’s name. The park has more than four acres, and is located on Garfield St. and Chester St. Amenities for the park include two small soccer fields, basketball court, play structures, picnic tables, grills, open space areas, park benches, and drinking fountains.

WANDA PARK
Wanda Park is located at 998 Wanda Street, with three acres. The park’s amenities include basketball hoops, softball field, play structure, picnic tables, grills, park benches, and a drinking fountain.

KULICK COMMUNITY CENTER
The Kulick Community Center is the city’s primary recreational indoor and outdoor facility. It’s also home to the offices of the Department of Recreation and Senior Services. Amenities for the Kulick Community Center include meeting rooms, various activity rooms, gymnasium, fitness studio, dance studio, kitchen, dining room, restrooms, play structures, basketball hoop, picnic tables, park benches, off-street parking, and site of a Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) public transportation hub.

OPPENHEIM PARK
Surrounded by a beautiful wooded area, Oppenheim Park is located at 650 St. Louis St. and has 2.35 acres. The neighborhood park has the following amenities: Open space areas, play structure, drinking fountain, picnic tables, grills, and park benches.

FAIR PARK
Fair Park is located at the corner of Fair St. and Jewell St., and is considered one of five mini parks with 1.27 acres. Amenities for Fair Park include park benches, paved walking trail, and a play structure.

VESTER PARK
The second mini park, with just less than one acre, is Vester Park, which
is located at the corner of Vester and Farrow St. Vester Park amenities includes a play structure, picnic tables, grill, park bench, and a
drinking fountain.

OAKRIDGE PARK
Oakridge Park is located on Oakridge Street (near Woodward Ave.) and is about a half-acre in size. The mini-park is a completely open space with no additional amenities.

MARIE PARK
Marie Park is another mini park, located at 1300 Marie St. Amenities include play structures, park benches, soccer field, and a drinking fountain.

SCHIFFER PARK
The final mini park, and smallest of the city’s parks is Schiffer Park with about a tenth of an acre. The park is located at W. 9 Mile Rd. and Planavon St. and is an urban plaza with tables, benches, and a drinking fountain. Schiffer Park was dedicated in honor of former Mayor Henry Schiffer in 1982.

Sources:
Ferndale Historical Society
http://www.ferndalehistoricalsociety.org/history_chronology.html
Draft of the Ferndale Parks & Recreation Plan 2016


By Rebecca Hammond

BACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: There’s a robin population explosion this year. In our neighborhood, we’re noticing something: possibly because of greater numbers and more competition for food, they’ve slightly domesticated themselves, following various neighbors around as we garden. They wait for us to move from a spot we just dug, then rifling that spot for worms. It’s happened so often, and they stay so close to us, there’s no doubt of what they’re doing.

A few days before Mother’s Day, we performed duckling rescue, having spotted a mama mallard crossing Oakridge with her brood. Unfortunately, she picked a spot with a storm grate, and three of the maybe 12 ducklings fell through. Phil and a young man who’d stopped removed the grate and found that while ducklings don’t like falling down storm sewers, they also don’t like being rescued. And they really don’t like being carried across a front lawn to bushes where Mom and siblings had hidden. They’re like chasing pinballs. Mama duck charged us aggressively, then faked some wing injuries, maybe just to show off. Neighbors Tina and Dick happened to wander by and, since no one was home nearby, went to get a piece of plywood to temporarily cover the drain. Maybe Ferndale needs an Adopt-a-Drain program, for the brief period when mallards nest.

During my nightly sky gazing I see, just before full dark, large birds fly over as if shadowing Woodward to its west. Shaped like chunky gulls and with silent wingflaps but harsh croaks, these have been a nightly mystery. Again, I turned to Duluth ornithologist Laura Erickson, whose best guess is black crowned night herons. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that these are the world’s most common herons, and that “They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands.” My own guess is that they leave the zoo for places in Detroit, and that if I were watching just before dawn I’d see them return.

FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT: I saw my first monarch out front on May 16, two weeks earlier than last year. People on our Facebook page report-ed seeing them around the same time, even one in Telly’s Greenhouse. We gave away ten more common milkweeds at the perennial exchange at Blumz, making the project’s total 468, and we weren’t the only ones who brought milkweed to share this year. Someone also brought three pots of goldenrod, maybe the second-most important plant for monarchs, it being a late bloomer that gets Generation Four back to Mexico. If you thought that goldenrod caused allergies, join the club. Ragweed is the real culprit, but goldenrod’s showiness gets it all the blame. State Representative Robert Wittenberg and his legislative director Barbara Winter have taken an interest in Michigan following Ohio’s and Illinois’ lead, both states having initiated programs to plant milkweed along highways.

Perennial exchanges, like the recent one by the Ferndale Beautification Commission, are good places to gather plants, and maybe get rid of more grass. Most of the plants are hardier than grass, and more far ornamental. You don’t have to water daylilies or milkweed or coneflower much, and they don’t need a toxic bath to look beautiful, either. Do you need help starting an organic, native garden? Former Ferndale resident Danielle Etienne is starting Wild Bergamot Gardening for homes and businesses. wildbergamotgarden@gmail.com, 248-299-9295.

ALL HANDS ON DECK EVENTS: Are you a Great Lakes advocate, enthusiast, or activist? Do the Lakes soothe and renew you? Current multiple threats can make you seethe. Check out events on the morning of July 3 region-wide.

Organizer and Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon told me this: “The overall idea for ALL HANDS ON DECK is to unite all water efforts throughout the Great Lakes Region whether that be organizations, Tribal water walkers, petition creators, protestors on various issues, scientists working on solving water issues for one hour on one day all together as a visual demonstration of how large and diverse the water protectors efforts are in the region. We hope to grow more every year since this issue is not going away, it is only on the horizon as the most difficult issue we will face in this country and as a planet – clean, affordable, accessible fresh water. We must get people talking about water, get them to the water to connect with it, educate them and inspire them about it, and introduce them to the many ways they may get involved with the cause.”

The project has grown since FF’s last issue. In two-and-a-half months, events have been planned in five states and Ontario, in over 50 communities. “In the UP, there will be sacred drumming and water blessings. In Detroit and Petoskey a speaker, some [events] will also have a clean up – it is one hour to come together about water in the way that will best educate your community . . . and keep them involved for another year. An advocacy petition will be at the event to sign in support of water policy creation based on unbiased science. Members of congress . . . are being asked to sign a pledge to create water policy using unbiased science.”

The website is allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org. There you can find the list of participating communities with links to specific events, which are all at 10 am on July 3rd. You can also buy shirts and flags. Got a blue marble? Bring it to share, along with a water story. Kimberly Simon:   “This isn’t an environmentalist issue, this is everyone’s issue . . . water is life.”

Becky Hammond is a former Green Cruiser of the Year, and the Michigan Sierra Club’s 2012 Alex Sagedy Cyber Punk Award winner. Anyone knowing her is surprised at the cyber-punk part.

Story by Andrea Grimaldi
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

We are open to the public. We invite anyone to visit and walk around, walk their dogs,” Machpelah groundskeeper Paul Saville explained, looking around the park in his backyard. On this quiet fall day, the grounds crew worked on blowing away leaves and tending to the flowerbeds, as the sun came through the branches of the countless trees. And, had we been anywhere besides one of the oldest cemeteries in Metro Detroit, I would have wondered how no one took him up on his offer.

To Paul, a calming walk around the cemetery is nothing new. He has worked maintaining the cemetery since 1978 in what started as a summer job. By the mid-‘80s, he had worked his way to head groundskeeper and moved into the house on the property, hidden behind a garage of maintenance machines. Machpelah is one of the last cemeteries in America that has a groundskeeper living on the property, and the Saville family treats it with the care and pride of home.

Machpelah Cemetery is a gorgeous park, regardless if tombstones scare you or not. The history and depth in Machpelah Cemetery is worth a long, winding walk. The Jewish cemetery is located on Woodward, just south of Marshall road, across from a car dealership and surrounded by businesses. Despite the busy area, the cemetery is a very peaceful place, 24 acres of immaculate landscaping backed by the David Oppenheim Memorial park. The cemetery has 9000 garden beds and circling walking trails. Machpelah has won an America in Bloom award, as well as a Ferndale Beautification award, with good reason. There is a year-round crew that keeps Machpelah beautiful. Weeding and garden maintenance is a nonstop task, starting at one end of the park and restarting as soon as they reach the other. The crew also must level out between 300 and 500 graves and tombstones a year. Along with the tradition of having a groundskeeper on the property, Machpelah is also one of few cemeteries that hand digs each grave.

The Machpelah cemetery is integral to Detroit history. The first house on Woodward Avenue stood where the cemetery is now, when Woodward was a dirt trail. The two-bedroom house was on the Granger farm property, and the occupants paid $7 dollars per month for rent.

Machpelah has a very large veterans section. Alfred Levitt, a member of the Flying Tigers in World War II, is in internment here. A Congressional Medal of Honor awardee is also buried here. Members of the Purple Gang, Detroit’s Jewish mafia and Al Capone’s liquor supplier during the prohibition, rest here as well. According to rumors, one of Al Capone’s girlfriends is here, as well as a previous mayor of Las Vegas. Gilda Radner’s parents are here in a family plot. “Babeland” – a section of early 1900’s children – is the eeriest of them all.

While all internment records are available on the Machpelah website, the staff is also available to help with genealogy questions. The employees of the cemetery are very well-educated on the history of the cemetery and are happy to show guests around the graves. The main administration building has a chapel and a family room for guests. The guest gathering room has shelves of the interesting things found while digging; old medicine bottles, beer and soda bottles, broken glasses, rusted out horse shoes. A Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War was also found on the grounds.

The staff is accommodating to guests of Machpelah there out of both necessity and curiosity. Walk a mile somewhere you never thought you would, and walk away more intrigued because of it.

By Rebecca Hammond

SIGH: Michigan has been discovered, alas. While I’m continually amazed that I can keep finding new and enjoyable trails, towns, rivers in Michigan, I’m not happy that we keep making this-or-that list of national wonderfulness. The latest? Nikon has ranked Michigan the number-one spot in America for fall photography. (What took them so long?) Years ago I was driving to Ohio and was pleased to hear that NPR was doing an entire hour on Marquette, which was continually winning a spot on “Ten Best Places . . .” lists. At the end was an interview with the owner of a downtown business, who was maybe the grandson of its founder. His last words? “Don’t move here.” I now understand. A friend who lives in Marquette said that the last two summers were off-the-charts busy with tourists, and that even Munising had times with not enough hotel rooms or restaurants. Perhaps Musising will be to Marquette what Ferndale once was to Royal Oak.

RETRO FESTIVE: Darwin’s Home Evolution on the west side of Woodward north of Nine Mile has windows so
full of retro holiday wares, I defy you to take a look and not feel nostalgic. They sell housewares, furniture, jewelry, books, and games. Darwin’s will have a Christmas Party, date not yet selected, but check their Facebook page or website. They have treats at all times, a free drawing every week, and since items are only in the store for three months, there’s something new constantly. Check out their after-Christmas sale. Used gifts are green gifts. Regift and degift.

NATURE, A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: A praying mantis set up housekeeping on our porch for about two weeks this summer. The Number One sign you might be a nature lover: finding yourself with tweezers, picking spider webs off the back of a mantis. We humans seem to think wild things want the relationship with us that we desire with them. Just as I can wishfully-think that wild creatures enjoy relating to me, I can also think that they get into spider webs accidentally, instead of en-joying a free source of food they didn’t have to bother catching.
When you see the rather putrid fungi that pops up all over Ferndale in late summer, the red stems with slimy brown tops that are often crawling with flies, do you also wonder why you’re a nature lover to begin with? Nature can be disgusting. On the other hand, this was a marvelous year for fungi in the woods. When you see groups of spherical inch-wide brown fungi, each with a small hole on top, give one a press. A cloud of fine spores will puff out of that little hole.

PIPELINES: The Dakota Access Pipeline remains in the news and remains a concern for members of our community. NPR reported yesterday that in below freezing temperatures, police sprayed protesters with water cannons. And police complained that they had been hit with rocks and wood. President Obama may be considering rerouting this pipeline. While this would make most of us happy for the Standing Rock Sioux, the pipeline, which is heading for Illinois and consumers, will then become someone else’s battle. As of yet, no environmental groups that oppose the pipeline mention our demand for oil.

RANDOM GREEN THOUGHTS: I notice that any life activity becomes a learning experience if continued long enough. Hiking might be my favorite activity. Michigan is a hiker’s dream. We recently hiked the Highbanks Trail along the Au Sable Valley east of Os-coda, happy that we waited till mid-October. All memories of this day are glowingly positive, although many moments of the hike were not. Traffic was heavy along nearby River Road, parts of the seven-mile trail were “crowded” with hikers, and as always, my feet hurt. Some of this hike is along power-line rights-of-way. Gorgeous valley views are interspersed with dull second-growth woods. When you commit to a certain activity as way of life,moments of like and dislike do not end up mattering. When they seem to (my feet can really hurt!And there are bugs, sweat, cold), a mental reminder that even badly sore feet can’t wreck a hike overall is warranted. This is freedom, something to be nurtured and valued.

I read once that Grand Canyon river guides have a high rate of off-season depression, nothing else life offers being as exciting and absorbing as running rapids. Coming and going from the natural world can end up more complicated than reason would have it. Transitions even to a beloved place or state of being can seem like jarring oneself out of a rut that is simply comfortable. It’s easier to keep doing anything than it is to stop and start it. A hiker in motion tends to stay in motion.

Maybe all discipline is the realization that deciding a course of action ahead of time and sticking to it is better and easier than going with the whims and moods of particular moments. I’ve known musicians to keep going through all the “-itises”: bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis; I myself once pulled the top off a music stand and right into my upper lip, sending me from a rehearsal straight to the ER, and still played an oboe concerto two days later. Most things are doable if you made up your mind ahead of time they’re worthwhile.

Conversely, things that are worthwhile will end up avoided if each mood is weighed for validity. If the forest calls you, go. If that particular experience isn’t wonderful, you went anyway. You smelled the forest and the water and heard the wind (and maybe pressed a fungi).

Sooner or later you accumulate enough wonderful excursions that the occasional mediocre or even lousy one can be laughed off. You’ll have faith that good times are plentiful enough to count on.

Rebecca Hammond lives in Ferndale where she continues to struggle with putting her things away when done with them. Life is a journey.

By David Stone

I knew Michael Ashmore when he was an instructor, under the late Steve Britt in the 1990s. Since then, the Detroit location has moved many times. That’s why it was with great joy that I saw their ad in Ferndale Friends and I realized first, that they were within bicycling distance and second, that Michael Ashmore was chief instructor.

So, let’s meet Sifu Ashmore.

Mike was born in Hazel Park. He went to Webb Junior High on Woodward Heights. Then he went to Hazel Park High School. Afterwards, “I went to Oakland University for a couple of years, and also Wayne State ff16628_wu_staffUniversity for a couple of years.” From 1975 to 1995, he work-ed at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital. Since 1995, Sifu Ashmore has been teaching Tai Chi full-time. He has taught Tai Chi in many area hospitals: Beaumont, U of M Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital, and others. Now he teaches full-time at the Ferndale school.

Mike originally studied Tai Chi to help curb the degenerative effects of Legg-Perthes disease, a condition in which the upper leg and hip bones loose Calcium and become very brittle, which can lead to the need for a total hip replacement. He originally studied Yang-style, but moved to Wu-Style when Britt opened the first Wu-Style school in the U.S.

Mike was cured, and continued his study of Tai Chi as a martial art. In our interview, he explained how Tai ff16628_wuthaichiChi, a soft-style martial art, differs from the hard-style martial arts, “You don’t use muscular tension to generate force…you use looseness and coordination of the muscles…stretching the muscles out and then coordinating all the joints in a unified way to whatever leverage goal you are looking for.”

Many people practice Tai Chi purely for its health benefits, so Sifu went on to discuss why it is “so good for your health.” The first thing Tai Chi does is relax the muscular-skeletal system. This improves the circulatory system because “your heart doesn’t have to fight to pump blood through a bunch of tense muscles.” Then they work to improve the respiratory system by teaching “an entire system of breathing exercises that in Chinese are called chi gong. These breathing techniques are designed to saturate the circulatory system with as much oxygen as possible…which again feeds back to the original goal of relaxing and loosening up the muscular-skeletal system.” After that, Sifu Ashmore pointed out, ”we can work on various parts of the body as needed.”

Mike is proud to announce that, due to great demand, they have recently increased the number of beginner classes.

So, whether you want to learn an ancient martial art, regain or maintain your health, check out Wu’s Tai Chi Academy. And remember the Sifu’s words: Tai Chi – it’s not just for old people.

Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy, 3140 Hilton, Ferndale, MI
(248)854-3953,  info@wustyledetroit.com

Story by Rose Carver

The protest at Standing Rock has become a symbolic representation of a hopeful environmental future, as well as one of healthy government dissent.

For the hundreds of Native American tribes (dubbed “Water Protectors”) that have gathered on the land to protest the oil pipeline, it is about protecting the water in the nearby Lake Oahe from the potential for contamination due to a pipeline break, and protecting the ancestral land it would run through, desecrating it ff16614_sr_campin the eyes of those who have dwelled there for centuries. It is a precarious situation for all parties in finding common ground, and it touches on many facets of the world at large; including a government that claims to protect vulnerable populations from the interest of private companies, and to hold true to the treaties and agreements that were made with America’s Native People.

Alan Benchich is a long time activist. He served as delegate for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic Convention, and has been a resident of Ferndale for the last year, moving here from Detroit where he had a 38-year career at GM.

Benchich has been an advocate for environmental, economic and social issues for the last 45-years. He claims that if one needs proof of the interests of big corporations being held over the interests of community, one needs to look no further than this very state. Benchich points out that because of the state’s location, sitting in the middle of the largest mass of freshwater in the world, there are constant environmental threats.

“Fracking, the situation in Flint, the water shut-offs in Detroit, the 60-year-old Line 5 oil pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Bridge, Nestle’s company’s sucking aquifers dry on the west side of the state,” Benchich said, “and the source of the threats are corporations whose main concern is profit.”

“You only have to look at Kalamazoo, where the largest inland oil spill in the country occurred in 2010,” Benchich said. “The company, Enbridge, said that the line was completely safe just one week before the enormous spill occurred.”

Benchich felt drawn to show his support to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock because he felt the importance of what was at stake, and so he made the trek to North Dakota to join up in their ranks. Benchich organized a small, local caravan of supporters who traveled to Standing Rock for a week, around Thanksgiving.

The protest is taking a powerful stand against the assumed power of the almighty dollar, but their peaceful protest isn’t without considerable resistance. “When I saw a video on line that showed militarized police using pepper spray, rubber bullets, long range acoustic devices (LRAD) that cause permanent hearing damage and water cannon against unarmed citizens, it was more than I could take,” Benchich said.

Benchich was welcomed into the Oceti camp, which is one of four camps, and the nearest to where the pipeline is being built. He said that the Water Protectors are absolutely devoted to defending the sanctity of the water on their land, and even though the harsh North Dakota Winter is starting to set in, they will not be deterred. “It is hard to describe the energy at Oceti. The camp is a camp of prayer, peace and respect. Weapons, drugs and alcohol are not allowed,” Benchich said. “There is a spirituality that transcends and permeates. Every morning in the cold, pre-dawn darkness, there is a call to prayer at the sacred fire that continuously burns.  Hundreds of people walk down to the waters edge and are led in the prayers of various native peoples as the sun rises. At the risk of sounding corny, there is a sense of tranquility and love.”

Benchich describes a vibrant scene, with people from all over the country and the world pitching in and helping out however they can, and their peaceful endurance is history in the making. Representatives of hundreds of different tribes and nations had arrived a few weeks before Benchich did, and there had been a council fire gathering of the elders of the seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation. This was the first gathering of its kind since the 1850s. With such nonviolent intentions, it is hard to imagine the violence that occurs when the authorities arrive.

“The cops not only used water cannons on people in freezing weather, they added anti-freeze, a toxic substance, to it to keep the water cannon from freezing up,” Benchich said. “Snow has now covered the camp, and the North Dakota winter is setting in.  The authorities will try to freeze out the water protectors. They will not plow the road and are trying to stop supplies. I was recently told that businesses in the area were instructed not to sell propane to the water protectors. But they will not leave. The Water Protectors are committed to stopping this pipeline. They are committed to protecting the sacred.”

If one feels drawn to join the protest on the frontlines, be forewarned. Benchich recommends that you dress for the Arctic, and to go only if you have a skill to contribute, are able to both be self-sufficient and to contribute work.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/23/how-give-and-give-thanks-standing-rock-166566

Story by Andrea Grimaldi
Photography by brother Willy Aschmetat

At some point this summer, you may have seen Bernie Laframboise’s garden. It would have been hard to miss, and impossible to forget. His corner lot was lined with giant corn plants, with a dense forest of vegetable plants hiding behind them. Bernie has over 30 tomato plants in 15 different varieties, with some seeds coming from as far as China and Russia. The tomato plants are staked and trained to grow upwards, all reaching over six-feet-tall. The uglier the tomato, the more delicious it is, and his heirlooms are a point of pride. A handful of tomatoes have weighed up to two pounds.

In addition to the impressive quantity of quality corn and tomatoes, Bernie grows squash, zucchini, rhubarb, ff15682_blg_2pumpkins, green onions, jalapenos, pimentos, bell peppers, asparagus, grape leaves, okra, potatoes, beets, pole beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce, chilies, kale, and cucumbers, just to name a few. He has a handful of fruit trees, including pears and apples, as well as melon and berry plants throughout his garden. There is also a wide variety of spices and herbs. Bernie places plants strategically,like encouraging companion growing by mixing basil plants in between his tomatoes. The entire yard is also lined in beautiful flowers and hanging baskets that attract bees and butterflies.

Bernie offers gardening tips, such as using 100 per cent organic materials in your garden for a higher quality produce. Cow manure and fish emulsion help to enrich soil. Pruning leaves off of tomato plants help direct ff15682_blg_3the growing energy to the tomatoes themselves. Collecting rain water is very useful – Bernie’s 250-gallon tank helped him make it through the heat spell this summer.

Above all, Bernie says you need dedication. “Be prepared to be married to the garden,” he explains.Bernie works full-time as a developmental mechanic. He also provides Ferndale Friends with some of the beautiful photography you see in each issue.  His garden is his third job. He uses his vacation time to plant and prepare every spring, using PVC hoops and plastic sheeting to make greenhouses on his raised beds. Every night after work as well as throughout the weekends, Bernie can be found in his garden, digging, weeding, and picking.

The reward certainly outweighs the amount of work. Not only does Bernie have more produce than he can eat, he has a backyard oasis. The height and density of his garden makes for the perfect amount of privacy. He has a small cabana in the midst of the gardens, perfect for him and his friends and his dogs to relax. Although Bernie has only lived in his house for three years, his efforts look like they have taken a lifetime.

The importance of growing natural healthy food is a message Bernie wants to share with the world. Watching your efforts grow from seed to food is a process that not many people get to partake in, but it is a very important one. Canning and preserving food is how people have made it through difficult times, and is an important part of surviving. In addition to the health benefits that fresh produce offers the body, there is a therapeutic aspect to gardening. “It is good for the mind to keep the body busy,” Bernie explains. “You forget the world exists when you’re making your own world in the garden.” It doesn’t take a lot of land to grow your own food, just a lot of love and dedication.

Story and photos by: Malissa Martin

When Suzanne Row and her husband Bill first bought their house she had a vision. She saw kids running and playing in the backyard while she sat watching and smiling. Fast forward 20 years and Rowe said her vision came true. The longtime Ferndale resident and her husband are moving to Florida in October to enjoy their retirement.

Rowe is a real estate agent and her husband just retired after working 20 years as a musical instrument salesman.

Rowe said it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Ferndale and she recalls how the city has changed over the ff15616_rowe_gardenyears. “I’m an East Side Detroit person, and this felt like the old neighborhood. When we moved here it was kind of cool, but so different. Not so hip, but it still had that charm.” Rowe said.  Taking a stroll to get pizza at Michigo Pizza and Assaggi Bistro or going shopping on Woodward Avenue are activities she said she will surely miss. She will also miss community-enriching events like the Ferndale Perennial Exchange. “Everybody get together and it was bring-a-plant, take-a-plant. It was always a fun event.” Rowe said.

During her time in Ferndale, Rowe was an involved in city politics. She served on the Beautification Commission for eight years. “It was wonderful. Peggy Snow was the chairperson forever and I learned a lot from her; except I’m not real good at naming the plants even after all this experience.” Rowe said. She was also on the Property and Assessing Review board for about eight years on and off. Leaving the garden that took 20 years to create is a treasure Rowe said she has to painfully leave behind. “Every garden has got its own memories. It’s really hard leaving this.” Rowe said. Through the years she’s collected various plants and decorative pieces; most are gifts from friends who feed her green-thumb passion.

Although Rowe has enjoyed good times at her home, she’s had tough times too. The house behind hers caught on fire one night around 1:00 A.M. The fire spread to the garage and eventually crossed the fence to Rowe’s property. “All I could see were flames and my garage.” Thankfully, the wind blew the fire in the opposite direction so Rowe’s garage didn’t burn, but her garden wasn’t so lucky. Half the trees and grass were burnt. “No one could understand what it was like. That’s 12 years, but look how it came back! Isn’t it amazing how plants do that!? It’s just proof about life.” Rowe said.

The hardest part about leaving is saying goodbye to her friends, Rowe confessed. “I’ve met so many people.” Rowe said. She treasures the personal and professional relationships she’s made over the years.

Rowe plans to visit Ferndale, and it will be sooner than later since she’s selling her own home. “I’m still going to be back and forth. I can’t imagine never coming back. I look at it like this: that’s going to be our home base and who knows what will happen.” Rowe said she might do real estate part-time in Florida, but she’s really looking forward to enjoying her favorite pastimes: writing and painting.

Although Rowe is originally from Detroit, she said Ferndale has a special place in her heart. Moving to Florida is the beginning of a new chapter and Rowe said she’s ready. “It’s like a new adventure.”

Saying goodbye is always hard. So, to the beautiful city of Ferndale, Rowe says, “Ferndale you’ve been good to me.

By Rebecca Hammond

DO YOU WATCH THE TV SERIES, PORTLANDIA? Ferndale is weird in some of the ways that Portland, Oregon is weird. Good weird. Fernlandia has become so dear to us, the five or six years Phil and I intended to live here have stretched to 30 (so far). This weirdness is some of the glue that holds us here, it and a neighborhood that is old-fashioned in its friendliness, with much calling back-and-forth and wandering about. Our town and its ‘hoods are a splendid combination of old and new, traditional but forward-thinking. It doesn’t take deep perusal to notice.

One obvious way is our yards. A couple of years ago I bicycled around this quadrant of Ferndale counting Fernlandia yards. If memory serves, there were then about 18 yards with no visible grass. All had been replaced with ornamentals, natives, vegetables. About 66 had gotten rid of half or more, and maybe 87 had replaced so much grass with other plants they went far beyond a lawn bordered by shrubs or flower beds. This trend has grown, especially on devil’s strips, where our sandy “soil” isn’t just inhospitable to grass, it seems actively opposed to it. Now, though, the Fernlandia approach is countered by more pesticide warning signs every year. Two philosophies on yards, two approaches to gardening.

Well, what’s wrong with pesticides, anyway? No matter which route we take, the point is to surround ourselves with property that pleases our aesthetics. If you want green, velvety turf, you must have to use chemicals, right?

No, not really. Remember TV gardener Jerry Baker? When we moved to Michigan from Germany in the mid-80s, television was a culture shock, and I remember three reasons: Oprah, Miami Vice, and Jerry Baker. Oprah and Miami Vice were the talk of mass media then, unavailable to those of us limited to the Armed Forces Network, as it ran six months behind. But we had heard of both. Jerry Baker, ex-Detroit cop turned garden maverick, was a new name.

Baker’s MO is producing a healthy yard and garden using nothing but grocery-store ingredients. His idea that a healthy lawn can stand up to pests is echoed by Bayer on its lawn-care site, which states that even nine grubs per square foot won’t damage healthy grass. Baker, now retired to Florida, recommends cocktails of odd ingredients like beer, ammonia (basically nitrogen), and liquid dish soap in a hose-end sprayer, powerful enough to need application only once every two weeks. The nicest lawn I ever saw was a Baker lawn, right here in Ferndale. Very Fernlandia.  Jerrybaker.com. Newcomer Tina Towell told me, when I noticed her husband Dick using a reel mower, “We were mow-ing about two acres at our previous home, so a city lot is a breeze by comparison. It doesn’t warrant the existence of yet another noisy, polluting gasoline engine. Our simple push mower not only gets the job done in short order, it also provides a bit of low impact exercise and a surprising sense of accomp-lishment. There is, as well, something very neighborly about it.

“Purveyors of elaborate, chemical-based turf regimens vie for our attention each spring to no avail. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s good enough. ‘Lawn order’ needn’t rule our lives.”

On June 7, 2014, the Washington Post ran an article in their Health & Science section called What To Know Before You Spray Your Lawn With Pesticides. What Philip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine states may surprise you. Kids play in the grass, put fingers in mouths, and face high levels of exposure simply by that and being smaller. Growing faster, “they take into their bodies more of the pesticides that are in the food, water, and air.” And because of that growth, “These delicate developmental processes are easily disrupted by very small doses of toxic chemicals that would be virtually harmless for adults.”

In the same article, Gary Ginsburg of the Univer-sity of Connecticut points out that there is no scientific standard for the length of time we’re warned to stay off a sprayed lawn. Herbicides can still be detected in the urine of pets 48 hours after spraying. Ginsburg recommends staying off a treated area for at least two days, three being better. The chemicals are also tracked indoors, or blow in windows, and can be found on inside surfaces a week after spraying. They’re are also re-wetted by dew or rain, and it’s not even certain that they’re safer when dry.

Leslie Jones of the Pleasant Ridge Environmental Committee told me, “I think that many people, over time, have been sold on the idea of having perfect lawns at the expense of health, their own as well as the health of the whole ecosystem. I think it takes a very long time for these kind of ideas to sink in. We spend tons of money to keep our lawns perfect and our gardens free of weeds in the easiest way possible, by spraying or dousing everything with pesticides and weed killers. Better living through chemistry! That was an actual chemical industry slogan at one time. We shouldn’t tolerate a polluted, toxic environment whether it comes from carbon pollution, pesticides or industrial and chemical pollution. It’s bad for our health but also the health of our fellow earthly inhabitants. Humans need to respect and honor all life whether plant or animal. We are all connected and need to see and understand that connection on which all life is based.”

LuAnn Linker of Wild Birds Unlimited in Royal Oak said, “Remember, any chemicals that are poisonous to weeds and insects are just as poisonous to birds, pets and children. Opt for environmentally friendly lawn care products.” Fernlandia. We’re the Ann Arbor of Metro Detroit, the Lakewood of SE Michigan, the Portland of the Midwest. Keep Ferndale Weird. Becky Hammond is listening to wrens, orioles, and baby chickadees as she types this.

If something happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states connected to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction turn on injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a state called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this curing passes into breast milk.