I would like to share with you a tradition my small family observes nearly every year. We go on the Dow Gardens Christmas Walk. Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, MI has given the community a beautiful garden center. My daughter works there each summer as a student intern, a term that really means she is a glorified grounds worker. She has a wonderful time learning as she is working, and they seem to love having her.
Each year the Dow Gardens opens up their beautiful haven for the community to enjoy for free. Usually they charge a small fee per family or per person to walk in the Gardens. The gardens are truly beautiful no matter which season you visit.
For the Christmas Walk, they line the paths with candle luminaries. The walk begins shortly after dark--about 5:00 PM. As you walk along the path you come across groups of carolers. Some are school groups singing Christmas songs and carols. Others are church organizations, such as the bell choir we listened to tonight. Please pardon the blurry quality of the pictures. Ours is a cheap camera that doesn't like to focus.
As we meander along the path we near the rolling hills luminaries. The children especially love to run up and down these little hills when the grass is green. How more fun it is to run among the luminaries in the snow after dark.
We encountered a puppet show on the way. They "performed" Christmas music Rock & Roll style. They got quite a few chuckles from the crowd. Across from the puppet show we entered the activity barn on the Garden's grounds. They were selling hot chocolate to the miriads of walkers tonight.
This walk was relaxing. As we strolled down the path we heard echoes of various groups. I recognized a men's chorus. Later I heard some instrumentalists.
We passed a homestead. On the front porch stood a small group of singers carolling their hearts out. They sang in harmony and I couldn't help but hum along. What glorious music. People clapping their hands made a muffled "clump clump clump" instead of the usual clap clap clap. But no one minded the cold. We had our hats, mittens and scarves and the nippy air was part of the charm.
Finally after meandering further down the lit trail, we found outselves at the door to the greenhouse. This is my daughter's favorite place to work. Inside they have created a giant 12-foot poinsettia Christmas tree. Last Christmas, my daughter helped put it together. Along with the usual seasonal decorations were the lush greenhouse greenery and the addition of a String Quartet. We stopped long enough to listen to their ethereal music.
We tried to take our pictures in front of the poinsettia tree, but the space was cramped and our camera takes better pictures further away than 5 feet. But the blurriness doesn't matter. We enjoyed the effort anyway.
Exiting the greenhouse we picked up the trail of luminaries again. This time we climbed a bright red Chinese style bridge over a gurgling stream. The return path was peaceful and quiet. There weren't so many people walking the path. Piped music was played as we walked along side the tiny stream that runs through the Gardens. At one point we encountered an especially lovely tree lit in white lights, its reflection in the water below.
The waterfall was encrusted in ice. But no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get a really good picture of the flowing, bubbling water. Now we have to climb a slight incline and trod a well worn path that will return us to the Dow Gardens center where we started.
We started this little family tradition many years ago when our children were very young. I look forward to doing this again and again, perhaps someday with grandchildren.