Noshin’ and nibblin’, and … I saw my first robin.

02-19-17

It was another beautiful day, and, we broke a longstanding weather record from 1884, after we hit 66 degrees this afternoon.

I wonder what we did to deserve all this love from Mother Nature?

I got hung up doing some domestic chores and left a little later than usual, but not before I stopped to gather some goodies for the feathered and furry critters at the Park.

There was some old bread I had defrosted, so I broke it up for the ducks and geese, and, when I reached into the cupboard to get a Ziploc bag of peanuts for the squirrels, those peanuts smelled so fresh and good, that I stopped and treated myself to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Just for kicks, I made a smaller sandwich and cut it into “fingers” to share with the squirrels.

I made my way down to Council Point Park, and there were many walkers there already. There were also a few teens chasing the elusive Pokémon characters, and, a couple of boys bumped into each other as their heads were bent, studying their phone screens.

By the time I reached the perimeter path, I had unzipped my jacket and stuffed my gloves in my pocket. I even took out the camera just in case I could get a close-up of a squirrel noshing on a PB&J sandwich, with peanut butter smeared all over his furry face.

First, a pair of squirrels scrambled down from a tree, and, I lured them over to me with some peanuts, which were quickly grabbed and positioned between their front paws. Chomp, chomp – gone in a minute, with the shells cast aside on the path.  Next, I laid out a couple of sections of  the sandwich – that got their attention, and each sniffed a piece, scooped it up with a paw, shoved it into their mouth, then took off running.  Bad manners!  No photo op either!  But, I looked over in the bushes, and, yes, they were enjoying their treat, so I left the rest of the fingers there so they could come and get them at their leisure.

So, yes – the entire world loves PB&J sandwiches, not just you and me – the squirrels love ‘em too.

At the cement precipice, I took out my bag of bread, and, once again I had my camera at the ready. I had a few takers for those yeasty tidbits, long discolored by freezer burn, and those mallards delicately nibbled that bread, then quickly moved on.

I put the camera away again, figuring I was done dispensing goodies for today, though I still had some peanuts left for any other squirrels who happened along.

Soon thereafter, a big robin, the first I’ve seen this year, flew down beside me. He looked just like the one pictured above, wearing a perpetual scowl that  most robins seem to have.  He probably saw me feeding the rest of the crowd and thought I might have a worm or grub for him, since I doubt he found any in the frozen ground in mid-February, despite these balmy temps.

That appearance of Robin Redbreast made me think … do I have to get my robin contraption in place over the coach light at home already? I need to search in my blog to find my first whine about the robins settling in to raise their family last year – they were at least a month earlier than usual, probably due to the mild Winter of 2015-2016.  Though I am a bird lover, the robin’s messy nest over my front door light, is just not acceptable to me, and, I fear this warm weather will have them looking for a mate, nesting materials, then a place to build.  Each year they favor me with their presence, and believe me, I’ve never put out the welcome mat, nor a sign that reads “Mi Casa es Su Casa!”

I heard the vroom and low rumble of motorcycles while walking home and throughout the day. I half-expected that the next sound I would hear would be a lawn mower starting up.

Too bad the President’s Day holiday was not extended to all workers – tomorrow is supposed to be another stellar weather day.

[Image by Kaz from Pixabay]

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Hello Spring!!! *

Spring pattern

This headline deserves an asterisk, because, my friends, we all know that Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20th.

So, I guess I am circulating “fake news” … that’s okay, because it sure feels like Spring has arrived here in Southeast Michigan.

It turned out to be a day to ditch the hat and gloves and unzip or unbutton your coat and breathe in deeply.

However, while it may be 68 degrees right now as I am typing this post, this morning when I left on my walk, a stiff breeze was blowing and there was a chill in the air – it was only 45 degrees then.

I headed down to Council Point Park where I joined many fellow walkers and joggers who wanted to spend their morning enjoying that venue, just like me. Though I took the camera, intending to get some current Park photos, I never took it out of the case since the landscape is still drab and dowdy looking.  Even the squirrels seemed to blend right into the scenery, except, of course, when they spied me along the trail, or, I shook a bag of peanuts in their direction.  They soon came running over.  Yes, I’m a quick study, and noticed early on that shaking the clear bag filled with peanuts had a similar effect to Hop Sing, the Ponderosa’s Chinese cook, ringing the dinner triangle to announce to the Cartwrights that the meal was ready.  (Of course, if you never watched the T.V. series “Bonanza” you might wonder about this analogy.)

The Ecorse Creek had a light skim of ice in places and its banks and shoreline were full of dried-up reeds. The ducks and geese did not seem to mind their surroundings, however, and the waterfowl were plentiful as I walked parallel to the Creek.

I stood out on the ledge, what I used to refer to as “Duck Landing”, and watched the mallards and geese gracefully paddling along. Every so often, the camaraderie would end abruptly, when one of them would rile up his brethren and a lot of quacking or honking ensued, then soon it was quiet and peaceful again.

As I walked along in silence, I was aware of the wind as it swooshed through the trees causing the brittle leaves that still remained on the bare branches to make a crackling sound. Likewise, a few dozen lightweight plastic bags were slung from bushes and branches and the wind rustled through them as I walked by.

I look forward to that first day when the Park seems to comes alive … the grass suddenly will be a brilliant green color and dotted with dandelions, and the goslings will toddle after their parents. That is when the camera will get some serious action.

In the meantime, I think that just a few more days of this mild weather will have the trees and perennials very confused. Buds will suddenly appear and green sprouts will surface in still-frozen garden beds.

We humans can simply don another layer to protect us, but they will be susceptible to the wiles of Mother Nature.

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A toe-and-finger nippin’ Friday, but mercifully snowless …

02-17-17

Even though Jack Frost was doing a little toe and finger nippin’ this early morning, it was still wonderfully snow and ice free, so I happily set out on a walk. Even the sun showed up halfway through that extra-long walk as I meandered down to, then around, Council Point Park.

Could that esteemed weather prognosticator, a/k/a Punxsutawney Phil, and/or his nemesis, Woody, have gotten their predictions about Winter all turned around?

Or, are Al Gore’s global warming rants finally coming to fruition?

If it is the latter, I say bring that global warming on – especially this weekend when we are expected to frolic around outside in temps hovering at 60 degrees.

Is it really mid-February in Michigan?

Quick, let me feel Mother Nature’s forehead!

While I am enjoying this break from Winter, my boss is up north on a Winter break, and embracing the white stuff. He loves nothing more than snowshoeing in the forest and getting his handlebar moustache caked with snow, and, in general, enjoying each minute that he is freezing his butt off.

I am happy to report that my foot mileage has now surpassed the car’s mileage by five miles, and, that fact might have happened yesterday had I not had the significant snow squall put the kibosh on Wednesday’s walk. The traffic reports and warnings for Winter driving early Wednesday morning were pretty dire .  So, I peered out the window before layering up and lacing up my walking shoes.  It was clear as a bell!  So, off I went, with nary a snowflake or icy patch in sight.

Well, nothing like the expectation of a nice walk, duly suiting up to enjoy same, when fifteen minutes later, and at least a mile away, a snow squall appeared. Well that sudden burst of snow burst my bubble bigtime.  Those snowflakes were massive and stuck everywhere they landed.  I quickly headed back and looked like the Abominable by the time I reached home.

I dealt with all the wet clothes after I came in, sipped some coffee, looked outside a short time later, and the snow had stopped, and the sun was shining.

I think Mother Nature is toying with us don’t you?

Hopefully she has flipped her hourglass in the wrong direction and we are headed toward Spring and leaving Winter far behind.

[Image by Leunert from Pixabay]

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Candy is dandy, but …

02-14-17

… this sunshiny day was downright divine.

When I left on my walk, Mr. Sun was already lighting up the sky, as well as my smile, on this Valentine’s Day.

Before I left, I had toyed with the idea of sharin’ the love at Council Point Park, but, it was a work day after all, and, communing with my furry pals, then making a quick getaway without the gang trailing along behind me as I departed the Park, might not be easy, so I planned a jaunt down to the marina instead.

That is … until I was forced to stop in my tracks at the tracks.

I made good time after leaving my house, high-tailing it through the neighborhoods, and eventually making my way down Emmons Boulevard. That bright sky meant I had my shadow along for company, and I studied the puffy coat, oversized hat and, even the loops of my shoelaces out of the corner of my eye, while I kept a steady pace on the sidewalks through Lincoln Park, over the footbridge, and then far into Wyandotte.

But, the closer I got to the River, I began hearing the clanging of the railroad crossing bells. The incessant noise continued, and, as I neared the tracks, I soon realized that the racket was not going to stop any time soon, since the gates were down and the train was at a standstill.  There weren’t any cars queued up on either side of the tracks, so, the train must have been stopped there for a while.

Thus, the marina trip had to wait, so I walked to the tracks, turned around and then headed for home.

I waved at the postman who seemed to be listing to one side from his heavy bag of mail, no doubt packed with all those valentines he would be delivering up and down Emmons Boulevard.

There is plenty of festive décor at those big homes lining the Boulevard; in fact, some people still have their Christmas decorations up. I saw a few real evergreen wreaths which were looking perky, plus a pair of flamingoes who had donned a Santa cap and a big red bow, respectively.  Dozens of homes were festooned with hearts or cupids on their windows and doors – tomorrow, or the next day, those hearts will be whisked away in favor of shamrocks and the cherubs will be replaced with leprechauns.

The walk was brisk and efficient, giving me another four miles to add my total. I was dressed to stay out even longer and the sun was sooooo very inviting – did I dare stretch the walk out a few blocks more and allow some more sun to settle into my Winter-weary body?

I did just that.

A stroll in the Winter sunshine … it’s like chocolate for the soul.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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Wandering and writing – a double cause for celebration.

02-11-17

It was a gorgeous Winter day, despite the dismal sky and blah landscape. So what if there was no sunshine?  At least there was zero snow or ice, moderate temps, and no need to hurry back as it is the weekend.

What more could one want?

The weatherman said we were above freezing, so I slid a packet of peanuts into my pocket “just in case” my feet would lead me around the perimeter path at Council Point Park. When I shut the screen door, I glanced at my neighbor Marge’s big thermometer … yes it was hovering above 32 degrees, so that clinched it.  I figured I’d at least wander down to the Park, and, if the perimeter path was icy in the least, I’d leave and head along River Drive to Emmons Boulevard instead.

Once at the Park, I immediately saw that most of the snow was gone from the grassy areas and the path was clear and dry, with only a handful of other walkers, and they were on the opposite loop when I arrived. I pulled out my bag of peanuts just as the first squirrel shimmied down a tree and meandered over to see me.  I stopped and tossed a few peanuts his way and he came bounding right over to my feet, eager to partake in his favorite treat.  I left a few more peanuts for him, then resumed walking, but, when I turned around a few minutes later, I saw some of his pals had joined him to share his cache of treats.

Quickly I realized I was overdressed. Yesterday was windy and frigid, and, despite hearing the forecast of mid-30s before I stepped out, I still dressed in two layers of everything.   Bad decision.

Evidently, a few more squirrels had witnessed peanut-tendering session #1, so they raced across the grass inside the oval pathway to greet me as I passed the pavilion. They were the usual cute beggars, as they sat up on their haunches, with front paws poised in the air,  pleading for a peanut or two, that each squirrel reckoned had their name on it.  Really …who could resist that cute face and pose?

All too soon, the bag of peanuts was empty and I had walked both loops and was ready to head home.

But my posse of peanut pals were not quite ready to bid me adieu, and followed close at my heels.  I pulled the large empty Ziploc bag from my pocket and turned it inside out to emphasize “empty”, to no avail.  That stream of squirrels trailed behind me in true Pied Piper of Hamelin fashion.  I jollied along with the crowd for a bit, then quickly veered off the path and spied a quick getaway, by dipping behind a huge fir tree.  The group either lost sight of me, or forgot about me, so I then left the Park grounds.

Whew! I thought they’d follow me all the way home and I’d soon be claiming them as dependents.

Note to self: next time you go to Council Point Park, take two Ziploc bags of peanuts ,and, next time at Meijer, get a couple more bags of peanuts for your pals at the Park.

Today’s journey marks sixty miles walked thus far in 2017.

And, today also marks the fourth anniversary of beginning this blog. I set up the blog and my first post appeared on a cold and snowy Winter day.  Today, I went back and re-read that post, and, of course I was whining about the weather and not being able to take a walk.

Well, here we are four years and 875 posts later, and, with the exception of today, I’m still usually moaning and groaning about the Winter weather … I guess some things never change, do they?

[Image by BYKST from Pixabay]

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Slip-slidin’ away …

02-08-17

It was back to reality this morning, after Mother Nature momentarily put Winter on ice.

After yesterday’s torrential rain, the temperatures soared to 56, and we broke the old record of 53 set way back in 1882!

I assumed that the ferocious wind overnight huffed and puffed all that moisture away, thus, I was confident that neither black ice, nor snow, would put a stick in my spokes, and I’d be able to walk at Council Point Park.

So, with that destination in mind, I packed a bag full of goodies for the critters. There were bite-sized bagel bits that were surely as hard as my head, but, I figured the geese and ducks could dunk ‘em in the Creek water, plus, a pack of peanuts to dispense to my squirrel pals.  And, after missing that photo op of the ducks and geese on the ice the other day, I also packed my camera.

But, as I set out, I soon discovered that Tuesday’s all-day rain sure took its toll on the sidewalks and streets, leaving muddy puddles everywhere, and, surprisingly, a few spots of snow were still dotting the grass. There was even a thin veil of ice on some sidewalk cracks and the potholes.

So, I failed to throw caution to the wind on this chilly and dismal morning and head to the Park with its perimeter path that is prone to black ice. Instead I opted to go to my usual stomping grounds at Emmons Boulevard and feed those ducks and geese.  At the footbridge, there were just a handful of male mallards paddling along in the ice-free Creek, so it was their lucky day.  Those fortunate few got a lot of bagel bits, and they eagerly grabbed them as they bobbed along in the murkier-than-usual water.

I walked to the railroad tracks and back, the pack of peanuts still stashed in the bag that dangled from my coat pocket. I didn’t stop to tender them to the street squirrels, deciding to save those treats for the Park furry friends instead, since they savor their peanuts more and always show me some love (smile).

I was rounding the cross-street on the last leg of my trip when I saw the substitute mail carrier – I stopped him and asked for Jenny, since I’d not seen her in the ‘hood the past few weeks. He told me she took a nasty fall on someone’s icy porch and had been out for two weeks recuperating. He said “you know that you can’t be too careful with the black ice … you can’t see it, and next thing you know, you’re on the ground.”  Twice, he told me to be careful, and said he had just about wiped out today, a few blocks away in the same neighborhood where Jenny met her fate.  Yikes!

Somebody up there was watching out for me this morning and whispered in my ear to switch destinations.

[Image by Mariamichelle from Pixabay]

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Tuesday Musings.

01-03-17a2

Location, location, location!

While that mantra is usually associated with real estate, for me, it is the weather which factors into the locale for my daily walk. Today’s fog and sogfest sure put a damper on my morning constitution, so, it was neither Emmons Boulevard, nor Council Point Park, but, instead making the short journey downstairs to the exercise bike, where surprisingly, I have logged in many more pedaled miles, than walked miles thus far in 2017.

On the plus side, the bike is a boon to the exercise regimen, since pedaling permits me a moderate workout to feel better about myself. The disadvantage is, that from my perch on my bicycle seat, even by the light of a solitary table lamp, I’ve got a great opportunity to scope out the basement, which looks even more ravaged than usual, since I’ve been cleaning like crazy upstairs. That makes me feel badly about myself.

You’ll recall from prior posts, I’ve been busy fulfilling my New Year’s resolution to clear out the clutter and organize the house, so that I know what is in every single cupboard, closet, chest, dresser or drawer. Upstairs that is.  Downstairs will be a job to tackle this Summer, because, it seems that, in an event to declutter upstairs, many items have been relegated to downstairs.  It is a catch-22 situation, because my mindset as to purging items is not so great.

The basement hasn’t always looked this way. I take responsibility for the disorderliness, which is no badge of honor, believe me.

For years, my mom would go downstairs to do laundry twice a week, and, between loads, she’d mop and dust the basement and vacuum the carpeted area and braided rugs. Then, as her mobility issues increased, and she had difficulties getting up and down the cellar stairs, the task of keeping the basement neat and tidy fell on my shoulders.  Continually, she would admonish me with “I hope you are doing a good job taking care of the basement because I don’t want anyone to think we are slobs.”  “No Mom”, I would assure her while crossing my fingers, “it looks great down there, really.”

But, I am sorry to say, I was the ultimate con artist, who would ensure that as far as the eye could see, that is – when my mom would peer downstairs from the landing to the basement – that area was clutter-and-dust-free and up to snuff.

I recall, when we were on the cusp of the infamous Y2K event, with all the dire predictions of what calamities were in store for all of us, Mom made me promise that the basement’s pantry and laundry rooms had been scrubbed and waxed, and, in the larger part of the basement, the furniture was clean and dust-free. She fretted over cleanliness constantly, and, in this case, it was because she had extended an invitation to our neighbors across the street, that they could hunker down in the basement, since they had no basement of their own, should some tragic event befall us at Y2K.

Mom had a cardinal rule, similar to that old adage that “everything has a place and a place for everything”, so, as a result, for years I could go downstairs, at any given time, and find anything within a minute.

Rule number two was that for any new article of clothing brought into the house, an old article of clothing would be put aside in a bag to give to the Salvation Army. Of course, sometimes there were exceptions, like garments which could be repurposed for yardwork, or painting jobs, but that was how we kept orderliness at all times.

Sadly, all that orderliness has departed in the last decade, and, while looking around the basement in the semi-darkness this morning, I wondered when order would once again be restored? Not to disparage my mom, but I am just not as persnickety about keeping a clean house.  My regimen is relaxed … perhaps too much so, and the result now is abysmal.

How disappointed she would be in me – how disappointed I am in myself!

But, I do deserve some kudos since, true to my resolution, I have organized upstairs to a point, where I now am left scratching my head where I put stuff , since I was so diligent in ensuring that there is no visible clutter anywhere. Containing clutter obviously has not been my strongpoint, though I have reluctantly parted with some things, abiding by all the magazines and internet site suggestions about the purging-your-stuff- rule, i.e., if you have not used it or worn it in one year, then toss it.  Hmmmmm – I wonder why my mom never preached that rule to me instead of the in-with-the-new-but- out-with-the-old edict?

I conceded to some of Mom’s purging stuff mindset, though, in desperation, many times I tried pointing out that the “good china” and “fine glassware” had perhaps worn out their welcome since they went unused year after year, in favor of the more durable and easily-accessible earthenware tableware. After all, who needs a gravy boat and silver ladle when there are no guests at the dinner table, but us?  And the salt-and-pepper shakers with their silver lids that required annual polishing?  So, why should these fancy-schmancy items get dragged down yearly, just to wash down the top shelves of all the kitchen cabinets, then wash and dry the items before replacing them, only to repeat that effort the following year?  Unfortunately, my plaintive arguments just fell on deaf ears, or, more often than not, garnered a sharp retort like “I never knew that I raised a lazy child Linda”, so, I dropped my plea to avoid raising Mom’s hackles, resulting in a stony silence for the balance of the Labor Day weekend, when we usually spent that three-day holiday refreshing and revitalizing the kitchen.

A friend of mine once told me the secret to properly declutter your house, was that you needed to carry five trash bags to the curb every garbage day. Then, after you winnowed your bags down to just the weekly accumulated trash, and only then, have you have achieved success in containing clutter.  Well, suffice it to say that I’ve been making our garbage men earn their wages at my house bigtime since the beginning of this year.

Location, location, location. In the end, it not only makes or breaks a walk, but, it is all about where you choose to stuff your stuff.

In the meantime, until the day I can take that white glove test downstairs and pass with flying colors, going forward, for each foray to the basement, I’m taking a flashlight with me, so I will avoid that guilty conscience and not see Mom’s shadow, looking over my shoulder, with arms folded, while clucking her tongue at me in disappointment.

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