Making strides on an awesome Autumn morn …

10-19-14

It was crisp and invigorating this morning when I set out for Council Point Park. The wicked winds from these past few blustery days have whisked alot of the leaves onto the sidewalks and they were all curled up and crunchy when I scuffed along through them, now brittle remnants of their former beauty. The sunny morn with its brilliant sun belied the cold temps and the grass was still tinged with a wee bit of frosting. We sure came close to dipping down to the freezing mark last night. I’ll bet those runners were very cold at the 7:00 a.m. start time for the marathon. I glanced up at the sun after it glinted off my glasses, momentarily blinding me with its rays, and it warmed my upturned face. That felt so good and I wanted to stop and just bask in the sun. I looked for Ruby on her front porch, but she was absent again, though the big rocker hasn’t been hauled into the house yet signifying that she has shut it down for the season. Once at the Park, as I entered the trail, I saw Donna, the rollerblader, swigging from a bottle she had placed on a picnic table under the pavilion. That told me she had already been there for awhile. I almost didn’t recognize her as she was clad in long pants, a Sherpa jacket, muffler, earmuffs and warm wool mitts. I’m used to seeing her in shorts and a tee-shirt as she whips along the trail at the speed of sound, passing all us walkers by. We greeted one another, chatted a bit then started on the path together, with her skating more slowly and me picking up the pace a little to keep up with her. It had been one week since I was at the Park and my eyes were darting around for a wayward raccoon or deer lurking in the bushes, but there no critters crossing our path, save for a few squirrels who begged shamelessly for a treat to tide them over ‘til they could remember where they buried their treasured nut goodies. I’ll have to start tucking a Ziploc pack of peanuts in my pocket for my furry friends going forward … I forgot after I switched to my heavier coat. Donna and I went two times around the Park and I left to walk home and she was ready to take on another few laps before departing. As I headed home, I walked even slower to enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors in the trees that still sported their fine-looking foliage, and finished up by adding another five miles to my total for good measure.

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Another mist opportunity.

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“Oh bother” as Winnie the Pooh would say … though I hate to blather once again about the weather, it was another missed opportunity to go for a walk. Way too many years of trudging to school in the rain and then waiting on the bus during my years of going to WSU and working downtown really do not endear me to a rainy day. When it is an optional trip I’ll usually bow out. I sure am glad I was able to get alot of walking done earlier in this month, since I count on the weekends to bulk up the miles ‘til after the time change. Those pretty leaves that have been fluttering around the past few weeks are now glommed onto the sidewalk, along with their stems, and so you have to be extra careful not to go slip-slidin’ away and wipe out. It is a morning to stay inside, snuggled close to your significant other and celebrate this soggy Saturday and Hallmark holiday with him or her. Happy Sweetest Day to you and those who make you happy.

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Sojourn to Elizabeth Park.

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Another damp and dreary day – wherever does all this rain come from? But, while we Michiganders bemoan day after day of rain, in Montecito, California the drought has languished so long that the City has cut the allotment of water use by some 90%. It is so bad that some owners of pricey real estate have their water brought in by the truckload, at a whopping price of around $600.00 a tankful. Seems incredulous doesn’t it? So, while we’ll never get the prolonged California heat, nor suffer similar drought-like conditions, hearing of their plight somehow makes the endless rainy and dreary days just a tad easier to take. That said, the morning was not really conducive for walking and I was a little bummed as my boss was out most of the day today, so I had a little extra free time. My friend and neighbor Marge was headed to Elizabeth Park, camera in hand, undaunted by the dreary day, and she asked me to tag along, so away we went for a sojourn to the sticks at beautiful Elizabeth Park in Trenton. During the drive around, it was a feast for the eyes. The Park’s many trees were all so picturesque since Mother Nature’s paintbrush took some swipes and dabs at a plethora of their foliage, making them look like living stained glass. Mostly we saw ducks and geese. Well, as the saying goes … “it is weather for ducks”. Finally, a few slivers of sun shot through the clouds and brightened up the morning sky, and soon a gaggle of geese seemed eager to greet us. Maybe they thought they had the place to themselves today due to the inclement weather and were taken aback when we entered their personal space. At least they were photogenic, and not feisty!

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Well here comes trouble …

10-14-14

It sure was dark and gloomy looking this morning when I ventured out for a walk, albeit a short one, since it took forever to lighten up. I am looking forward to the time change and “falling back” on November 2nd to get out a little earlier for walks and errands. I stayed in the neighborhood, and it was an unremarkable trip, save for this peanut pal who piqued my interest. Evidently the peanuts that are doled out by us humans for cute antics like begging on haunches, or a few flicks of the tail as a greeting when you are nearby, sometimes fall short for our furry friends. Maybe they are bored with the same food every day and seek tastier treats to supplement their diet. I spied this little guy sizing up a pumpkin that was part of a homeowner’s harvest décor. As I approached him, he was trying to take a bite out of one side, no doubt thwarted by the thick skin, plus it had no cutouts in it yet where he could sink his teeth into it to rip it apart. Despair registered on his face, frustrated by his inability to climb inside and noodle around like he usually does, so the project was quickly abandoned as he scampered off seeking peanuts, a project he could readily handle. Just wait another week ‘til people start putting out carved pumpkins and those squirrels will be in their glory. It’s pretty hard to “squirrel away” a pumpkin … you guys had better stick to nut gathering instead!

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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving …

10-13-14

… and Columbus Day as well. There was no walk for this Canuck today since it was a soggy, drizzly early morning, so I decided to grab a little more snooze time. Instead of pumpkin pie, sleeping in was my Thanksgiving Day treat. For dinner, I’ll have a turkey sandwich and that’ll satisfy the holiday fare requirement for 2014. This is a picture of me proudly proclaiming my heritage sometime in the 90s. Unfortunately, my mom, who was a good half-foot shorter than me, cut off part of my head in the picture. I was originally planning to attach a photo of some Canada Geese grazing at the Park to this post, but after Googling around a little bit, I found out that Canada has no national bird, but the provinces each have their own representative bird. Since I was born in Toronto, Ontario, my national bird would have been the Common Loon. I really didn’t want the word “common”, nor a loony bird associated with me, thus this picture of myself in one of my favorite sweatshirts. Through the years, there have been alot of people that I’ve known, through work or school, that never knew I was a Canadian citizen. It is not that I am ashamed of my heritage – it just doesn’t come up in casual conversation anymore. But, back when our family moved here from Canada in 1966, my schoolmates teased me horribly about my Canadian accent and my proper Oxford English. So, I tried to say as little as possible and emulate my peers with their lingo and pronunciations. My mother, however, refused to acquiescence to anyone, and for the rest of her life continued to say words like “chesterfield” instead of “sofa”, “toque” instead of “cap” and “serviette” instead of “napkin”. I am more keenly aware of being a Canadian this week as I must renew my green card, something that now happens once a decade. Once upon a time, all we did was obtain a card from the post office and send it in to the government every January … that card merely confirmed that we were still living in the United States. Then, about twenty years ago, we had a form to fill out, special pictures to be taken and had to make a trip to the police station to have fingerprints done. From there we had to get validated at the U.S./Canada border. My fingerprints were too blurry to be used – way too many years of typing and, who knows … maybe even all the accordion playing. They had to be redone. It was a little embarrassing. The procedure next morphed into an electronic application and capture of vital info in 2005. Now, the entire process is done through the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I applied a month ago because my card expires in February 2015, but I passed muster and got my appointment right away. I go this week to have my fingerprints, photo and signature captured electronically for DHS’ digital files. I also had to pay a $450.00 fee for the application and electronic capture. I have promised myself that I will become an American citizen before I have to renew my green card again. Since Canada is our neighbor, it is a shame that I cannot just become one of you without all this fanfare; after all … Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day are always celebrated the same day – hint, hint.

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Well … hello there Mr. Heron.

10-12-14

When I scurried out the door for my walk this morning, I quickly hurried back into the house to grab a heavier coat after the cold hit me like a ton of bricks. Yikes! The frost is not only on the pumpkin, but on the grass, and most likely most of the annuals took a direct hit last night as well We were blessed to have another beautiful weekend day for our Fall chores, or visits to the apple orchard or cider mill, or, perhaps to pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. On a beautiful Fall day, the possibilities to enjoy the outdoors are endless, and I spent my “me time” walking to and from and around Council Point Park. I arrived just as the sun was cracking through the clouds and brightening up the sky, but it sure wasn’t providing any warmth, that’s for sure. As I passed fellow walkers on the trail, we mumbled our morning greetings to one another through frozen lips. Since it now so chilly when I walk, I am encumbered by gloves and a zipped-up jacket, so it is not so easy to access the camera if I see something spectacular that I want to share in my blog. By the time I remove the gloves and unzip the coat, I’d better hope that the subject of the picture is patient – like this guy. I’m convinced this is the same heron I saw the other day when I missed my opportunity to take his picture. It was the same old dead tree with him perched on a large branch, nearly blending into the scene. Well, I saw him and crept over quietly, hoping he would not be startled like before and just fly away. I shot a few pictures of him from the trail to ensure I had at least one photo, before I inched closer. He didn’t move, but posed prettily – well, I don’t know just how pretty he was, but I thought he was regal looking in a blah sort of way. I took more pictures, and he just sat there, so I moved on. I walked the entire loop of the Park which is two miles, and then started back at the beginning of the path once again. I passed him by and he was still in the same position, which suggests to me that he is either very old, very cold, or, perhaps he has taken ownership of this half-dead tree. The ducks were quiet this morning, maybe in deference to the Great One who was perched high above their little alcove, or maybe the water was too cold for dunking or getting more than your feet wet. They were just placidly paddling along, adding to the ambiance at the water’s edge. When the sun finally began to shine more brilliantly on the Park, the trees were bathed in bright sunlight and they looked like a large tapestry of rich Fall colors had been strung from tree to tree in beautiful hues of crimson, ochre, rust and green. I added another five miles today toward the ultimate quest of 500 miles – just 65 more miles to go.

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Ducks on a log.

10-11-14

It was a stellar Saturday weather-wise, and you’ll not hear a comment or complaint from me about the chilly temps. The sun was shining brightly when I left the house, and, as I arrived at the entrance to Council Point Park I saw alot of activity in the pavilion area. There were refreshments on the picnic tables and more long tables heaped high with bright blue tee-shirts emblazoned with the white logo “Walk4Water.org”. I stopped to inquire when the walk was taking place and what Walk4Water was about. I found out it was organized through Helping Hands International and people are sponsored for miles walked. The walkers try to raise money to provide water wells and purification systems in Kenya, where women and children walk an average of four miles daily to collect drinking and cooking water. I was asked to join the walkers, but the event didn’t start ‘til 10:00 a.m. and I didn’t want to stay at the Park for the next three or more hours. I will plan to do this event next year, since this is the 8th annual walk held at Council Point Park.

Once I left the hubbub of activity at the Pavilion, the Park path was rather quiet. I didn’t see any of the regular walkers whom I chat with at the Park to inquire if there have been any more deer sightings since earlier in the week. Yesterday, I walked to Meijer to pick up some groceries so there were no remarkable tales to tell of flora or fauna as I made my three-mile round trip. I was nearly solo on the trail, yet I strained my ears to identify the bird calls in the early morn. I heard a few peeps and cheeps over the occasional quacking of a group of lively ducks in the Creek nearby. I peered through the bushes and reeds at the mallard males who were having their morning ablution and I saw much wing-flipping and flapping and tail-shaking going on to get those beautiful, iridescent teal heads and exquisite plumage spanking clean. Nearby, some female mallards, wearing their drab colors, similarly dipped and splashed to wet their feathers. On the second loop around, down near the marshy banks of the Creek, I took this picture which I’m calling “Ducks on a Log” … this is where the ducks landed after their quick dip in the chilly Creek water. They were either sitting huddled together or occasionally preening themselves after their bath. Around the bend, I stood on the cement precipice that I used to refer to as “Duck Landing”, where I had still another vantage point to watch my fine-feathered friends. In this distant shot you have a faraway view of ducks in a row, lined up with their brethren. It was a peaceful scene and I took several photos, and have a beautiful silhouette of the group of ducks on the log to share at another time. No other critters to speak of, except for a squirrel or two, but I surely got my “duck fix” smack dab in the middle of the City at my favorite nature nook. A beautiful Fall day, and a walk in the Park – memories were made on this outing, some to be visited down the road in my mind. I leave you with a quote which sums it up for me:

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~Henry David Thoreau

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