Spring Fever-Is it Real?


Spring has sprung; the robins, sandhill cranes, and redwing blackbirds are just a few of the birds that have returned. The worms emerged during the recent rains, the “occasional”sunshine exudes warmth and baseball season starts on Saturday.

But, does “spring fever” really exist? While not actually a fever, warmer longer days following the spring equinox creates a biological change in people. Humans experience a higher energy level, need less sleep, reduce their food consumption, and encounter a lifting of their spirits when winter ends and spring begins.

My  personal bout of spring fever started a few weeks ago. I laced up my walking shoes and leashed Riley, my walking companion, for our morning and evening walks. Even our very short legs, his four and my two, yearn to be stretched out and moved. I’ve started my yard tours to check on our bulbs and plantings to discover what survived and is emerging from the previously frozen tundra.We even went to the garden store on Saturday to dream and purchase seeds to start indoors for our flower garden. We met quite a few like- minded people itching to start their gardens. I can’t wait to plant the seeds and watch my yard flourish into a canvas of color. I also suffer from clean window-itis every spring. I want to rid the windows of all their winter dirt and soil so I can clearly see my garden and it doesn’t interfere with the streaming sunlight.

All the people walking dogs, riding bikes,pushing strollers, and in-line skating along Apple Creek trail yesterday was another sure sign of Wisconsinites afflicted with spring fever. We are also experiencing the effects of spring fever at work as people are showing a strong interest in building new houses.

What symptoms of spring fever do you experience? Do you feel the biological pull to exercise, redecorate your home, or plan a garden? Or maybe, it is the lifting of your spirits as well as a makeover with a new hairdo or wardrobe. Whatever your symptoms of spring fever, be sure to embrace the season.


The Holiday Staycation

We stayed in Appleton for the holiday with big plans to play tourist again. Our daughters came to visit and one brought along a cold or the flu, thus our tours were cut short and this blog post is late.

We had plans that included visiting ice sculptures, touring holiday light displays, volunteering with We Care Meals, hiking on Christmas Day, and stops at various museums and local shops and coffee shops. Surprisingly, we accomplished several of those things.


Before our daughters arrived and the rain melted the Appleton downtown ice sculptures, my husband and I ran downtown on Christmas Eve to take a gander.We didn’t have a lot of time as we spent the morning shoveling the heavy wet snow, building a snowman, and needed to rush home for the Packer game.Although the sculptures had started to melt, you could still see the creativity and skill that went into each one. It is a shame that the wicked temperatures on carving day put a damper on the winter event.Still, we enjoyed the sculptures and the snowman in Houdini Plaza and appreciate the Downtown Appleton, Inc. on their hard work in continuing to make the downtown thrive.

My family toured different Christmas displays than we saw last year. For the most part the ones we saw in Appleton were somewhat disappointing. We got a chuckle out of ourselves  as we loved the home that played a Santa video on a projection screen in the front window. Even as four adults we enjoyed the creativity.

Although the flu put a damper on our staycation, we did find an opportunity to venture out at the end of the week. First we enjoyed brunch at Appleton’s iconic Little Diner Xpress followed by a trip to the Kohler Design Center and museum. We spent hours in both. A trip to Kohler is well worth the drive; especially if you take the more scenic back roads. The ideas and technology displayed in the two levels of the design center are endless and have something for everyone.We loved the history in the lower level; having no idea that the Kohler family was involved in the manufacturing of agriculture implements, cast iron furniture, and in helping farmers and the country with the development of the diesel engine connected to an alternator; as well as design and manufacturing of plumbing fixtures. Kohler invented and manufactured the first dishwasher and garbage disposal as well as the first indoor bathtub modeled after a horse trough. Kohler, an innovative and forward thinking company, believes in taking care of their families and employees. The beautiful American Club is a prime example of the hospitality and warmth the Kohler family extended towards their employees and the community. Their story is worth reading and telling.

Lastly, we took a short jaunt to Menasha on New Year’s Eve for coffee and lunch at the charming coffee shop , “Your Daily Grind.” We stopped in a few shops which are all independently owned. At the recently opened Renewed and Reclaimed,we happened upon a great find we couldn’t resist. These simple snowmen were made by the Neenah High School special needs students in Workshop 120. The owner of “Renewed and Reclaimed”, Jodi, sells these items to support the students in the endeavor to hone their skills and buy specialty tools . One hundred percent of the proceeds goes directly back to Workshop 120. Please stop by “Renewed and Reclaimed”, located on Main St., in Menasha to support Jodi in her efforts.


Although our holiday and the beginning of the new year were hampered by illness, we enjoyed getting to know our community of the Fox Valley a little better and highly recommend you touring these places. We are open to hearing about other “must see”destinations in the Fox Valley.




The Volunteer Spirit

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My family and I searched for a venue where we could physically volunteer on Christmas Day in order to bring happiness to others. Obviously we aren’t alone in the spirit of giving as many of the volunteer opportunities in the Fox Valley were full- of volunteers.

Luckily, we found an opportunity to volunteer, although we didn’t get to do much besides deliver meals to 4 homes. I was able to talk to a few people who took advantage of the free homemade meals. The gratitude for both the free hot holiday meal and a few minutes of friendly conversation showed on their faces. While we welcomed the small opportunity to help others, it was really the story of how Ed Rathsack and his brother started the We Care Meals Group in Appleton, that touched my heart.

I spoke to Ed Rathsack at length on Christmas Day about how the We Care Meals served on Christmas and Easter came about. Over 30 years ago Ed and his brother were returning home after a family Christmas gathering where the table and their stomachs were filled with holiday food, spirits, and love from spending time with family and friends. As they listened to the radio they were distraught to hear of 4 suicides committed right here in the Fox Valley due to loneliness and depression during the holidays. These two men vowed to make a difference.And what a difference they have made. The original We Care Meals were started by Ed and his brother, a chef in the Fox Valley Tech Culinary program. While the We Care Meals Program has expanded and evolved over the last 30 years, it only exists due to donations, grants, and the many volunteer hands and hearts. Manderfield’s Bakery, Van de Walles, and the Outagamie County Sheriff’s department are some of the businesses and organizations that volunteer food, time,and money to make We Care Meals in the Fox Cities a success.

We Care Meals provides both home delivery and the opportunity to share a communal meal complete with live music and gifts for the young ones.This year the meal took place at the beautiful Riverside Gardens. You don’t need to explain yourself to partake in a meal or to have one delivered, We Care Meals are open for all in the community. We Care Meals also provides an opportunity for others to give. It warmed my heart to see families with young children volunteering right alongside everyone else. I hope to have the opportunity to volunteer again but in the meantime Ed Rathsack and his crew are already accepting donations for the next We Care Meal to take place on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. Please call 920-731-7867 to make a donation.You may also contact the United Way of the Fox Cities.

Thank you Ed- The Giving Grandpa!