Bufka farm has historical significance and personal meaning

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May 18 2008

       My wife and I have been fortunate to enjoy the beginning of spring in three different places. In mid-March we saw the first daffodils while visiting our daughter and family in Maryland. Back here in Michigan we had several warm days in March that pushed spring forward. Then we visited friends in Oklahoma at the end of March and early April to see redbud trees in bloom there. In late April and early May back in Maryland we looked in awe at the many large azaleas with their shades of pink  red, white, and purple, not just the small purple azaleas here in Michigan.

       As I write this on Mothers’ Day I am also thinking of my roots and Mom who had a saying for everything. One of those sayings was “you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” I never liked this saying because I thought of the stereotypical country boy as unsophisticated and lacking in social graces.

       You see I grew up on a self-sufficient farm in Leelanau County. Leelanau County is affectionately known as the “Land of Delight” and the “Little finger of Michigan”, northwest of Traverse City. I am the only one of six sons who left the rural living of northern Michigan but I still have those country roots. I am thrilled when I smell the earth being prepared for planting as we drive by farms in the area. When we first moved to Midland in 1972 we did have a garden in the back yard of our house until the trees provided too much shade for anything to grow well. I still get the itch to get outside and dig in the little dirt we have around our condo but I easily resist the urge. The extent of our gardening now is buying a hanging plant for the front porch and a couple plants for the back patio. They satisfy my farm instincts.

       The Bufka farm holds many memories and I love to visit it but it has more than personal appeal. I remember many tourists would stop and take pictures. A local artist painted a scene of the farm buildings. A picture of the barn has appeared in numerous publications and Michigan calendars over the years. Unfortunately it is no longer the family farm since it was included in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Fortunately for you it is now available for everyone to enjoy. Although there is no official visitation or guides now at the farm it is very accessible with a Park permit. You can plan a visit and tour the farm on site by going to http://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/bufkafarm.htm

       The Lakeshore wrote in a report that “The Bufka farmstead, on the west-side of M-22, is an excellent example of a well-preserved complete farmstead…. The site is architecturally significant because of the type, style, number and condition of the farm buildings…. The Bufka farm is individually eligible for the Register. The level of significance is undetermined but is likely to be more than local.”

       Another country instinct I have is for lumber. I can smell a lumber yard a mile before we can see it. My wife thinks that cosmetics companies should produce an eau de pine perfume for the ladies in the lives of people like me! I still get excited when we walk down the lumber aisle of Home Depot or Lowe’s. Thirty years ago I spent a lot of time at Nehil’s.

       In memory of Mom I share another saying of hers. She grew up across from Kentucky in Madison, Indiana on the Ohio River and she loved to play euchre.  She would remind her sons that they would hang you in Kentucky if you got euchred on a lone hand. I have always been grateful for not living in Kentucky as I have been euchred more than once on a lone hand!

       So in this spring of new life with memories of my roots I salute Mom and all mothers for their love and careful rearing with wise sayings. These are being handed down to my daughter and grandson to add to their memories.

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