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Do you live in a small town?

Petoskey, Michigan

For those of us who live in cities, or in my case a suburb of a large city, visiting a small town may be as close as we get to experience the delights that they have to offer.

My husband and I recently took a trip to the delightful town of Petoskey, Michigan where our oldest daughter, Brittney moved along with her husband and daughter.

Petoskey, Michigan

The town of Petoskey is located at the “top of the mitt” as locals like to say.

I had been fortunate to have visited this picturesque downtown that sits on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, 1 1/2 years ago – long before we had any idea that my daughter and her family would end up there.  

exploring Petoskey

This time, my husband came with me and we looked forward to spending time with family as well as exploring Petoskey, which is consistently ranked as one of the “10 Best Downtowns To Visit” in America.

exploring Petoskey

Like many small towns, many residents are within walking distance of the downtown area.  So, on a brisk November’s day, we set off on foot toward the downtown area.

red berries
red berries

Signs of fall could be seen all around, from the bright red berries of Ilex decidua Possumhaw to…

fallen apples

fallen apples filling the stomachs of squirrels and autumn leaves being raked up by homeowners.

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions
A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions

As we walked I could see gardens getting ready for a long winter’s sleep, although some plants were still in flower.

Dried hydrangea flowers

Dried hydrangea flowers decorated many gardens, which added stark beauty.  I would love to use these dried flowers for floral arrangements in my home.

Did I mention that number one on my list of plants that I wish I could grow in my desert garden is hydrangea?

evergreen plants.

Landscapes were filled with leafless shrubs and trees along with evergreen plants.

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions

I think that large leafless trees have a beauty all their own, don’t you?

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions

What’s a small town without a gazebo in the local park?

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions

Or a general store?

Yes, those are live greens, which they use to decorate with.

Yes, those are live greens, which they use to decorate with.

The arrival of the Christmas season is a big deal in many small towns and Petoskey is no exception.  

Petoskey
Petoskey

Fall-themed window displays were soon to give way to those filled with Christmas greenery and decorations.

Christmas greenery and decorations.
Christmas greenery and decorations.

The merchants were also transforming the interior of their stores.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

Yes, that is a mannequin dressed in all her Christmas finery.  As you may have guessed this was the local florist and home decor store.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

These stainless steel Christmas tree containers outside of this store were also pretty cool.

Being a horticulturist, it is physically impossible for me to simply pass by any garden-themed store, so I went in.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

Christmas trees decorated in different themes were displayed throughout the store.  I suspect that they offer tree decorating services.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

While I am not personally a fan of artificial flowers, I really liked how they worked on this tree.  Of course, that could be due to the fact that they were decorated with one of my favorite flowers.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

Fairy or miniature gardens are pretty popular in this area as I saw several displays throughout the stores we visited.

Christmas greenery and decorations.

If I lived in area that experienced cold, long winters, I might be more likely to grow plants indoors.

However, I am not very attentive to my indoor plants, so they usually die.  Perhaps, it’s a good thing that I live in a place where I can garden outdoors year round, thereby saving defenseless indoor plants ๐Ÿ˜‰

artificial flowers and succulents,

A large display of artificial flowers and succulents, perfect for brightening up the indoors through the winter.

Shopping with my daughter and granddaughter - can life get any better?

Shopping with my daughter and granddaughter – can life get any better?

local bookstore

Next stop was the local bookstore, so of course I had to check out the gardening section.

Not surprisingly, there weren’t books on drought tolerant gardening in this region where water is plentiful.

Petoskey

Our next stop was to visit one of my favorite stores from my previous visit to Petoskey, ‘American Spoon‘ is a local company who sells fruit preserves and condiments from produce grown in Michigan.

Petoskey

I think that this was my husband’s favorite shop that we visited because there were ‘samples’.  I tried several different kinds of preserves and decided on getting my favorite, sour cherry preserves and vanilla bourbon pear conserve.

We also tried roasted pumpkin seed salsa – it was delicious, so I had to buy a jar of that too.

Petoskey, Christmas season

As I mentioned earlier, the Christmas season is celebrated throughout the gaslight district of downtown Petoskey.

What was striking to me was that the towns gaslights and stores were decorated with live evergreen wreaths and garlands – not the artificial ones that are commonplace throughout the desert Southwest.

Christmas tree

On the first Friday of December the town hosts an Holiday Open House when streets shut down and Santa arrives to light the town Christmas tree. Merchants vie to win the Holiday Window Contest and townspeople celebrate the first Friday of the season along with carolers and the local high school’s drum band.

Petoskey, Michigan

I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse of a small town.  Wherever I travel, I love to explore new places and experience and observe the local traditions, gardening practices, plants, people and of course the food!

Our next visit to this small town will be in June, when the days are long and warmer.  We’ll bring the kids with us next time and explore further out to some of the other surrounding towns and take a trip to Mackinac Island, which is just over an hour away ๐Ÿ™‚

**Have you ever lived in a small town?  What did you like about it?**

Goodbyes are always hard. Today, I had to say goodbye to both my daughter and granddaughter as they start their new lives in Petoskey, Michigan along with my son-in-law.

my daughter and granddaughter moved to Petoskey, Michigan

My daughter is an Arizona native and this is the beginning of a wonderful adventure for her and her young family.

my daughter and granddaughter move to Petoskey, Michigan

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, saying goodbye to her students at the local  high school where she is was a history teacher.

So why are they moving to Michigan – a place that my daughter has never visited before?

My son-in-law was hired as a professor at Northern Central Michigan College in Petoskey, which sits near the top of the ‘mitten’ of Michigan.

He had to leave quickly to get settled in before the new semester began, leaving my daughter to get everything packed up.

my granddaughter, Lily

Moving day was exciting for my granddaughter, Lily who watched as the movers took everything that was near and dear to her and put it in a big truck.

my granddaughter, Lily

After standing for awhile, she pulled out a chair to sit and watch all the activity until it was time to load up the chair she was sitting on.

my granddaughter, Lily with her grandpa

Her grandpa and I did our best to keep her occupied with all of the changes going on.

The best part of this entire process was that they moved in with us for several days while my daughter finished her last week teaching.

my granddaughter, Lily

We helped Lily keep in touch with her dad by texting him pictures that she drew for him.

With all the changes, Lily very well for a 3-year old girl whose world is going through a momentous change.

Our last week together was spent reading favorite books together, including “Goodnight Moon”, which I always read to her before her nap.  I gave her new one to take to Michigan.  

my granddaughter, Lily
my granddaughter, Lily

A date at our favorite McDonald’s was a must-do before they left.

This morning, we got up early and drove to them to the Phoenix airport for their flight.  This was to be Lily’s first time on an airplane and she was excited.

my granddaughter, Lily

This was the moment that I dreaded…saying goodbye to my daughter and Lily.

I realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have always had them living close by.  

my granddaughter, Lily

From being there the day Lily was born 3 1/2 years ago, seeing her take her first steps, wiping away her tears and enjoying her sunny presence twice a week when I would babysit her – there will be a hole that is hard to fill.

my granddaughter, Lily

Lily has also been my gardening buddy.

my granddaughter, Lily

From helping take care of the herb container we made for her mom…

my granddaughter, Lily

To watching her collect wildflowers for her ‘flower collection’ that she keeps in her jewelry box – I will miss her love for flowers.

my granddaughter, Lily

So, how am I doing after bidding goodbye to my oldest daughter and Lily?

After hugging them “goodbye” at the airport, I was doing pretty good – in fact I was rather proud of myself…no tears were shed.

That is until we were shopping at Costco a short time later and I saw a grandmother with her granddaughter and I completely broke down, making a spectable of myself.  Shoppers were probably wondering what it was at the meat counter that was making me so sad.

I regained control of myself, but then we passed by the bank that my daughter used to work at years ago and the tears started up again.

And then we passed by Lily’s favorite McDonald’s on our way home – and so it goes…

So, while my mother and grandmother’s heart is sad, it is also happy for them and their new adventure in beautiful Michigan.

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan

As I mentioned before, they are moving the picturesque town of Petoskey.

Coincidentally, I visited Petoskey just last year along with my mother on one of our annual road trips.

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan

It sits right on the water’s edge of Lake Michigan.

Petoskey, Michigan

The gardens are beautiful and I look forward to visiting them as often as I can – hopefully this fall.

There will be new adventures to be had discovering this new area.  I can hardly wait to help them create their new Michigan garden in the future.

As I write this, I am looking at Lily’s little work space next to my desk.

Goodbye Arizona...Hello Michigan!

On it is her latest coloring page alongside her much-loved crayons.  She would often sit next to me and “work with Grandma” while I wrote garden articles or worked on my latest landscape design.

I’ll put them away for awhile where they will wait for her to come back and visit – hopefully at Christmas.

Thank you for spending a few moments out of your day allowing me to share what’s on my heart. I already feel better ๐Ÿ™‚

**How about you? Do your family members live close by or far away?  How often are you able to visit?

A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions