Today’s the day to honor dear old Dad.

What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. ~ Proverb

Well we honored our mothers, so it is only fair that we fête our fathers too.

Since the first goslings arrived at Council Point Park in early May, I have taken many photos of the four families, but, of all the pictures that I have picked through the past six weeks, these are my absolute favorites. I will be honest and state up front that I have no idea whether this is the goose or the gander with their offspring in these sweet images. But, let’s just suppose for the sake of this Father’s Day post, that this is Papa Goose with his goslings, okay? Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in nature, walk | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Eat your peas!

About a week ago, I was down at Council Point Park one morning, and, while walking through the parking lot, a very large flock of Canada Geese were flying overhead. 

Their honking, while in flight, was almost deafening.  In fact, the flock was so large, they were actually in two V formations; these photos shows the bigger of the two Vs. 

As old as I am, there are some things in nature that continue to fascinate me and a large flock of migrating geese, playing follow the leader to parts unknown, has always made me stop in my tracks and take notice of them.

I whipped out the camera and took a few shots as they stayed in that near-perfect V formation, and then slowly faded into the distance.

Moments later I was on the perimeter path, where a few gosling families grazed nearby.  Once again I marveled at how quickly the goslings had grown since the first time I spotted them at the Park in early May.  When you compare the offspring of the different families, it is even easier to see how the goslings have grown in leaps and bounds.

But, even though the first family of goslings are nearly the same size as their parents, they are still far from fledging and being on their own.  At this point, they can only gaze upward to the sky and aspire to one day become a part of a contingent of geese like you see in the photos above. 

In the interim, try as they may, their wings, unlike the mighty wingspans of their parents, just resemble wing dings right now.

But, of course a gosling can dream big, like this little guy in the left-hand corner.

Even though the goslings do nothing but graze on the grass at the Park all day, they still need the rest of their feathers to grow in and those tiny wings to develop as well.  Did you know that the average goose eats four pounds of grass a day?  I think the only time the goslings aren’t eating, is when they have swimming lessons, or they are sleeping.

I was remembering about being a youngster myself, way back in the day, as I watched those little nippers toddling about, their parents never far from them.

I’ve often mentioned that my parents were very strict with me.  As an only child, I knew my place and that I must toe the line, or pay the penalty for not doing so.  There would be no slip-ups by little Linda or she’d get a lickin’ and there were no older siblings to have smoothed the path along the way to make it easier for me.  On this Father’s Day weekend, thinking way back to my formative years, it was my mother who was the disciplinarian and not my father … 

Except when it came to food and mealtimes. 

I know that experts say that adults can generally recall events from the time when they were just three or four years old.  I believe that to be a true statement.  I vividly recall a salmon-colored plastic child’s plate that Mom used to put my dinner in.  She poured hot water in the bottom portion, screwed the cap tightly, ladled my dinner into it, then placed it in front of me.  There were little blue, red, yellow and green fish that would “swim” in that water.  But I couldn’t see them until I ate my food.  I never got to be picky about what was put in front of me either.  I may have occasionally voiced my displeasure and balked a bit with the menu that night, but I knew enough not to make an issue of it … 

Except when it came to peas.

I hated those *&^% things!  From the time I graduated from my Little Miss Muffet spoon to a big-girl fork, I had nothing but disdain for peas.  How were you supposed to eat them?  It was hard enough to round ‘em up on your plate and onto your spoon, then try and make a quick dive into your mouth, before they rolled off the edge of the spoon, but balancing them on a fork … well that was a challenge that was a whole ‘nother story.  And my father being European, was all about eating with a knife and fork.  He’d watch me struggling with those stupid peas and trying to meet his standards of how to eat my dinner like a young lady.  Sigh.

I didn’t like the taste of those peas either and occasionally (very occasionally),  I’d protest a little saying “oh, peas again” and my mother would give me “the look” and then the lecture that they were “full of iron and would make me big and strong” so I’d best eat them up.  “I thought you said liver did that Mommy?” my brave and impertinent little self once said.  My father’s response to that comment was “just eat your peas Linda; they’ll put hair on your chest.”  Mom rolled her eyes and said “oh Max – really?!”  Occasionally I got the lecture about starving children in poor countries who would love to be eating peas or liver, so I just resigned myself that I’d never eat peas or liver when I was grown up.  And I don’t.

While watching those feathery fellows scattered along the perimeter path, beak-deep in the tender grass, I had this flashback of the dinner table many decades ago.  Eat your grass little ones and you’ll up grow up big and strong, so one day you will fly in a flock as big as this one.

Today is Nature Photography Day – if you’re so inclined, hope you had an opportunity to get out and see and photograph a few critters today!

Posted in nature, walk | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Glimpses of Grady.

This post is way overdue.  After all, I filled my blog with many tales about all my “porch pals” during the Fall of 2018 through early Spring 2019.  Then, all of a sudden, there were no more posts that mentioned my furry and feathered friends who greeted me each morning to enjoy peanuts on my front porch.

You already know that Parker is my favorite squirrel at Council Point Park; well, Grady was the neighborhood counterpart to Parker.

There’s always a backstory.

There’s always a backstory and for some of my newer followers, I’ll give you the scoop about Grady, along with photos that you can see from prior posts.

In late Summer of 2018, a casual toss of a few peanuts to a cute Gray Squirrel that suddenly appeared when I walked up my driveway, began a chain of events and provided fodder for many blog posts. 

I was at the tail end of my Ziploc bag of peanuts and I said “you’re new around here – we don’t get many Gray Squirrels; do you want a peanut honey?”  He was a tad nervous but scampered over a wee bit closer and I dumped out the rest of the bag of peanuts for him.  I said “it’s your lucky day, bye now” and walked into the house.

The next morning I took the car as I had errands to run and didn’t get home until a little later than usual.  I pulled into the driveway to find this cutie pie sitting on the front porch.  I said “were you waiting for me all that time?”  I always carry peanuts on me, they are in a Ziploc bag  inside a mesh bag that hangs on my fanny pack.  In the Winter, I carry them in my coat pocket.

So, I fished out a few peanuts and put them on the corner of the porch and he ran to get a couple, then took them “to go” to bury them.  After that day, every time I’d return from my walk or errands, there was my furry friend, waiting for his peanuts.  I named him “Grady the Gray Squirrel” and our daily ritual was peanuts on the corner of the porch, sometimes tossed out from the front door, even before I left for my walk.  The peanuts were always gone when I got home.  I began to give him more and more peanuts.  He always took them with him, but remember that this was Fall, so he was socking away those nuts for the long, cold Winter when foraging would be impossible.

Soon the frost was on the pumpkin, then our first snowfall and Grady was still showing up every morning.  He’d see me walking out of the house and soon was a blur of gray as he scurried down “his tree” across the street and raced over to meet me.   After Daylight Saving Time ended in early November and the sun rose later, I would open the door to check the walking conditions, crossing my fingers for no ice or snow.  It was early daylight and there was Grady on the corner of the porch, waiting on me.  Well, being an animal lover, my heart just melted.  This was the exact same relationship I had with Parker at Council Point Park.  He would always come to see me on my arrival at that venue. So, I tossed out some peanuts onto the porch and watched Grady carry those peanuts up to the brick ledge that ran along the front of the house.  Not only was he nimble to climb up the bricks, but he also was a pretty smart cookie to do that, because the ground was frozen by then and there was no digging those sharp claws into the earth to retrieve any peanuts buried in good faith several months before.  This way he intended to have a snack later that day. 

When freezing rain and snow coated my roses which I’d not yet pruned for Winter due to all the rain that Fall, it was Grady who stalked me along the chain-link fence while I took photos of the crystallized rosebuds, frozen in time on November 14th.  These are some of those photos.

“Patience is a virtue Grady” I told him while he paced anxiously, so I tossed him a few peanuts to tide him over while I meandered around the yard looking at the frozen precip on my roses and perennials. I couldn’t open the front door as it was sealed shut with ice.

I began to give Grady more peanuts, some before I went outside, and more when I got outside before going on my walk.  Despite all our interactions, he was always wary of me, as I loomed large at the screen door.  Of course, he was not seeing the glass that separated us when I stood and watched him at the door window.  I managed to click off a series of shots for this post back in February. If you click here you can see Grady on the porch that day.

Soon it became the “Morning Munch Bunch”.

Just like with humans, whenever the goin’ is great, and there is somebody that isn’t part of that action, they want a part of it too.  And, as is often the case with humans, someone has to overstep their bounds and be a spoil sport.  So, this was true here as well and Grady and I could not continue this exclusive relationship forever.  Yup, someone else wanted some peanuts to munch on too. 

First, two black squirrels began nosing around and became regular visitors to the porch .  I’d open the door in the morning to put out peanuts and counted noses – one gray and two black squirrels.  Gray squirrels and black squirrels are much smaller than Fox Squirrels (like Parker).  They don’t just run, but they spring forward, hopping like a pogo stick to get around.  They are very timid around humans … I see that with Midnight, the black squirrel at the Park.   

Soon I could be counting beaks as well as squirrel noses, when a pair of cardinals and blue jays were joining in the morning feast.  It was a joy to watch and I knew they would be eying the front door, waiting for me to open it and toss all the peanuts out onto the porch.  In the beginning the squirrels took their peanuts to go, but then the ground was so frozen … why bother trying to bury them?  They ate their peanuts right on the porch.  The birds did their usual swoop and swipe. If you click here you can see the black squirrel and cardinals as March came to a close.

But beware, because a bully was lurking about.

And then something happened.  A big, fat Fox Squirrel decided he wanted a part of this peanut party.  This intruder with the wide hips and a big bum that sported a long and bushy tail was pushy.  He would not just take one or two peanuts and leave – no, he was piggy and parked himself on top of the peanuts, only moving from where he sat, to access the next ones that he would shove into his mouth, thus monopolizing everyone’s breakfast. 

That slight shift in position by the Fox Squirrel to get more peanuts was all poor Grady needed and he made a mad dash to retrieve a peanut.  The Fox Squirrel was angry and chased Grady into the street.  I witnessed the whole scenario as I rounded the corner to go into the garage.  If a car was going down the street Grady would have been a goner, a wet spot on the pavement.

I was angry. Defending little Grady, I yelled at the Fox Squirrel and chased him off the porch.  Grady didn’t return, nor did the black squirrels or birds.  It was the same the next day as the remaining peanuts stayed on the porch, still in the shell and untouched. 

A few days later, I went out to walk and the Fox Squirrel had returned and was happily noshing those nuts on the porch from the other day. I watched Grady approach slowly, then he chased poor Grady off the porch and I cringed as he dashed into the street once again.  Grady, always timid, bolted and headed for his tree and retreated into his nest, his safe haven.

So I stopped the ritual all together right then and there.  I did not want to see Grady run over in the street.  But of course, my decision caused there to be other losers in this little morning breakfast ritual, not just the peanut eaters, but myself too.  I enjoyed watching and photographing the bevy of birds and furry fellows coming to feast on peanuts.  I didn’t open the door anymore in the morning for a very long time to dissuade any critters from anticipating a change of heart on my part, but there were no more handouts … period.

I decided if I saw Grady on his side of the street, I’d give him some peanuts.  I think he purposely has been ignoring me, and it made me feel badly.  My actions weren’t intended to scare him or stop feeding him.

Last Saturday after the 5K event at Council Point Park, I was later than usual arriving home, and there he was – up in his tree.  I went over to take some pictures, and pulled out the Ziploc bag and jiggled it and held it high in the air.  I spoke softly to him, clicking my tongue as well to entice him to come down, but, he ran further up the tree and rebuffed me, staring down at me like I was a stranger. 

I took his picture anyway and you see a disgruntled-looking pose, even the side-eye, neither which I deserved I might add .  The black squirrels have not been around either and I assume they, like the cardinals and jays, have moved on.  

There is one in every crowd who must ruin the status quo for others.

Below are a few pictures of Grady that I took last Saturday. Quite honestly I’d rather see him aloof than lying dead in the street … I’ll try to win him over again, so stay tuned!

This was at my house, coming down my next-door neighbor’s tree. See that steely glance, and then Grady hightailed it across the street to his safe haven.
That look … “what do ya want with me?” is what he seemed to say.
“Hmm – well she appears harmless but I’ll just keep inching up my tree.”
“Maybe if I give this lady with the camera the side-eye, she’ll just take a hike?”
“Well, she can’t touch me here – I’ll permit her a profile picture and perhaps she’ll skedaddle!”

Posted in nature, walk | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Oops, I did it again!

Today I completed my fourth 5K run/walk event in four weeks.  It was the first time that I have ever done back-to-back 5K events.  This 5K started at 8:00 a.m. and is about 5 miles away.  I concede that I’m getting older when I have to hustle to get out the door to be prompt instead of just going at my own pace!

A happy soul may come from happy soles.

I wish I could take credit for this subheading, but it was The News-Herald reporter Colin Maloney’s recent headline in a story promoting the 10th Annual  Happy Soles 5K at Taylor’s Heritage Park.  This is just one of many fundraisers held to benefit the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, which supplies about 1.6 million pounds of food to hungry people in the Downriver communities of Southeast Michigan every year.   

Just as in the past, today’s event was held at lovely Heritage Park in Taylor and you know it is one of my favorite places to walk and take pictures.  You’ll recall the venue as the quaint and historic village with its little red schoolhouse, old mill, beautiful Coan Lake and lots of ducks.

The morning was quite overcast, warm and humid, and I even took a backpack where I stuffed my umbrella and a poncho inside because rain was predicted for early afternoon.  The gloomy sky suggested rain was imminent.  When I walked in this same event last June 10th, I kept saying to other walkers that it would rain before we finished.  I just passed under the finish line hoop when the first rain splats landed on my glasses and it began pouring in earnest in a matter of minutes.

The event began at 8:00 a.m. and I was there by 7:35 to pick up my packet.  There was much consternation amongst all the registered runners/walkers as they ran out of shirts in most sizes and so you were offered one of last year’s shirts or a different size shirt.  The race organizers realized this was a big faux pas and will mail out the correctly sized shirts.  So, instead of a sea of rust-colored shirts meandering along the course, there are many powder blue shirts in the scenes as well.

The event organizers had everything else together though, including a huge pre-and-post race snack table.  Volunteers bustled around stacking the bottled water into coolers. 

I don’t know how many people attended today’s event.  The course began at Sheridan Center’s Open Air Pavilion, then the walking path that encircles the park, through two residential districts, then a heavily wooded area on the outskirts of the park, and finally through the historical village and to our starting point.  Let me take you along with me.

On your mark, get set … go!

We began to assemble at the starting point, which doubles as the finish line.  Captain America, (a moniker he has chosen for himself), and whom I’m sure you’ll recognize wearing the patriotic shorts and hat, shouted to ask if anyone wanted to race alongside him.  I don’t know if there were any volunteers, but it looked like the guy standing next to him in the second picture might have been up for the challenge to step off with the ol’ Captain.

After the National Anthem, a horn blared and we were off by 8:01; the contingent of runners were far ahead of us walkers in just a few minute’s time.

We headed along the outer part of the perimeter path and passed a series of signs.  These signs each represent winning countries in the Junior League World Series held at Heritage Park for one week every August.  You’ll see, for example, that Puerto Rico won the championship back in 1999.

We chugged up the hill, then down again into the first residential neighborhood.  Unlike yesterday, where dogs barked and homeowners waved and cheered us on, not a single person or dog heralded our arrival all the way down Katherine Street. 

By now all the runners were out of view and it was just the walkers and we chattered about the weather and would the rain hold off and shot occasional glances to the gray sky.  We turned onto busy Goddard Road …

… then made a right-hand turn onto William Street and at Mile Marker #1, we found ourselves in another residential neighborhood.

Aretha would be proud of this baby.

As we continued through the ‘hood, our little group all stopped to check out this pink Cadillac that was sitting in a homeowner’s driveway.  I speculated that there must have been a classic cruise of some sort, as this beauty with the classic fins and pale pink paint job was parked in front of an AMC Gremlin, a popular compact car from the ‘70s.  Our area has classic car cruises nearly every weekend in the nicer weather … our City will participate in one on June 29th

Afterward, as I walked along, I mused to myself as to whether the pink Caddy belonged to a Mary Kay saleswoman, or, if it once belonged to one of two famous singers who made millions singing about pink Caddies, the likes of Aretha Franklin or Bruce Springsteen.  It didn’t belong to Elvis Presley; even though his Caddy was also pink and white; it was destroyed many years ago.  When I was picking through my photos, I enlarged the license plate, but you can’t see the year on the plate, but on the trunk was the word “Aretha” so I’ll bet this was one of the cars in the Queen of Soul’s funeral procession last August.  There were about 100 pink Cadillacs on that day. 

We tooled along in the neighborhood, glad for the markers which signaled our progress.   A few people cheered as we got to Mile Marker #2.

I was getting warm and wished I’d stuffed that too-small shirt into my backpack instead of layering it over my other shirt.  Soon we were out of the ‘hood and headed back to Heritage Park’s perimeter path.

There was much police presence and all the officers waved at us or sometimes clapped at the various spots they were stationed along the event course.  These officers were a little more subdued.

Next, into the deep dark forest.

There is a wooded area that veers off the perimeter path and in moments you are in a wooded area. I had walked past this woods many times before last year’s event, and never knew about this pathway.  A sign directed us to head to the woods.

The ticks and mosquitoes are bad this year and the DNR advises to be mindful of ticks if you go into any wooded area.  I had planned to wear pants and long sleeves, but it was too warm.  So, I figured I’d just be diligent and check my clothes for ticks after the race was done.

However, I didn’t count on the mosquitoes being so bad – those little buggers were eating me alive and I spent most of my time in the woodsy area swatting at these blood sucking creatures.  You know me – I operate with both hands as I’ll feed the squirrels and take photos simultaneously, so I snapped pictures of the woods with one hand and swatted those *&^% mosquitoes with the other.

No wonder there were mosquitoes because there were swampy areas in the woods and the trail was a little muddy, even though we’ve not had any rain since Wednesday.

Whew, I was glad to leave there and get back on the asphalt track, but a few mosquitoes followed me.  Hmm – perhaps I am sweeter than I thought?! 

There were wild daisies growing along the side of the perimeter path … 

… and plenty of cottonwood fuzz.

Finally … over yonder was the historical village.

Across the field and around the bend was the village you’ve all come to know from previous posts.   

By now I was really straggling behind the others after my mosquito-swatting-and-picture-taking-foray in the woods.  A police officer asked if I was the last one and I smiled and said I usually am as I take pictures for my blog about walking.  He gave me a big smile … perhaps he is a blogger too?

I scoped out the gosling family to check on their growth.  No goslings or geese to be found, but I saw a heron perched on the Coan Lake seawall, so had to wander over to the water’s edge to check him out.

A few mallards were milling about.  No ducklings – they’ve all grown up.  When I returned to the course, there was Mile Marker #3.

A volunteer pointed and said “that-away” then added “only two more turns and you’ll be there” so I said that he would not believe that I had a walking regimen and didn’t usually poke along like I was now.  (I thought maybe I looked too pooped to participate?)  And, then I recognized that man behind the shades and said “I remember you – you feed the ducks the cracked corn every morning and you and I had a long conversation last Summer and I took some photos of you for that day’s blog post – do you remember me?”  Yes he did and I asked how many ducklings I had missed and told him I was there a few weeks ago for a “duckling fix” and there were no ducks, let alone ducklings.  He said there were a few families – one had 12 and another one 14 ducklings.  I said I’d try again next year, then I said goodbye and  was off again on the last leg of my journey.

I was not the last participant to walk under that “Finish Hoop” … I did get my time recorded; surprisingly not all that awful, considering all the swatting and picture-taking done along the way. 

I had more steps to get done today to reach six miles, and the sky still looked iffy, so I headed back to the car which I parked at the other side of the park to get more steps.  I finished off my six miles at the aisles of Meijer doing my grocery shopping, then scurried home before the rain, lest I might melt since the mosquitoes found me so darn sweet! 

Posted in 5K events, nature, walk | Tagged , , , | 68 Comments

More miles and smiles.

So today was another 5K event for me.   This was the 4th Annual “Rails Rally” which registration fees support the Lincoln Park Schools Education Foundation. 

This is the third year I registered for this event, but only the second time I participated.  The first time, in 2017, it was my first 5K.  Last year I was ready to leave the house and it began to rain, so I went back inside and did not attend.   I later discovered that the rain stopped, it dried up and the event proceeded as scheduled.  Grrrr.  I was still in my I-don’t-wanna-walk-in-the-rain–ever-mode and have since taken steps to abandon that mindset as you all know.

This course began at my favorite stomping grounds, went through a residential area and the last portion was on the Park perimeter path.

Just as I do every day, I walked to Council Point Park from home, thus adding another two miles for that round trip to my steps tally.  I got my packet and had 15 minutes to spare.

The Superintendent of Lincoln Park Schools, Terry Dangerfield, announced when it was almost race time, so everyone began migrating over to the starting point.

He told us there were 233 registered runners/walkers for this event, but there might have been additional last-minute people who signed up today as well.  Everyone assembled, runners up front and I took a quick photo, then scurried to the back of the queue.

I spotted a little chalk art on the path where we were awaiting the horn that kicked off the event.  As you probably guessed, “LP” signifies “Lincoln Park”.

You sure couldn’t miss the enthusiasm of these local elementary school students.  Their tee-shirts designate them as belonging to the “Carr School Running Club” and they all took off at lightning speed when the event began.

And then we were off

… running and walking along the perimeter of the parking lot, the Superintendent and Mayor Tom Karnes sprinting to the front of the pack (behind those speed demon Carr School kids of course!)

We next headed into the residential neighborhood and dogs barked noisily and homeowners along the way greeted us with a wave or shouted out “good job!”

As usual, in order to capture some photos of the ambiance of the event for this blog post, I soon lagged behind and found myself at the tail end … well, not quite THE tail end, as bringing up the rear was one of Lincoln Park’s finest.

When the race began, there were high clouds so it was not too warmish.  But the sun came out and walking on the concrete in the streets and through the neighborhoods, with my race shirt over another shirt, I did begin to get a little warm.  I was looking forward to hopping onto loop #1 of the perimeter path at Council Point Park and enjoying a little shade from all the trees.

But first, we had to pass the first water station and endure the second loop, which has very few trees.

The perimeter path sure was different with 200+ folks on it.

People probably stopped to check out the new graffiti.

I brought along peanuts, intending to feed my pals along the way.  The last time I walked this event, Parker and pals stopped me in my tracks, so why would this time be any different?  Well, first of all, we did not get back to the Park until around 9:30, so the regular walkers who feed the squirrels would have already treated them.

So, instead of begging for peanuts from me, the squirrels were just content to nosh nuts and watch the parade of people rushing past them.

Other squirrels climbed to the best viewing point they could find to check out the action. They were mesmerized, like this little guy.

I didn’t see any geese or goslings but I understand that one family was present and accounted for – the majority of them likely headed to the water with their offspring when the first runners showed up on their turf.

This Starling, high up on the chain link fence decided he could fly as fast as the first fleet-foot runner, so off he went.

Since my aim was not to win any record in this event, there was plenty of time to stop and smell the roses, er,  … at least look at the little dabs of purple around the Park.

Or one of many mushrooms …

… or inhale deeply as I passed the pine trees, where ripening pine cones were dripping with resin and new pine needles were emitting a smell in the moist morning air that reminded me of Christmas trees.

The air was filled with cottonwood seeds floating around.  This phenomenon always happens in early June, and lasts a couple of weeks here in SE Michigan.  Everywhere you look are white, fuzzy fibers that drift around lazily until they land somewhere.  It was quite windy at the Park yesterday and I came home with white fuzzies in my hair.

Look how the seed fibers have collected along the sides of the path, outlining the edge in white.

The cottonwood fuzzies are even embedded in last year’s dead leaves.

And, in the Creek, at a glance it appears like cotton balls are dotting the surface of the water.

The Hare and the Tortoise.

Now it is time to introduce some fine folks I met at today’s event – Stuart and Laura.  Stuart and I were at the tail end of this run/walk from the very beginning and we were joking about being so far behind.  You know I love chattin’ it up with people, so Stuart and I made our introductions, then we meandered amicably along.  Stuart told me this was his first 5K and that his daughter-in-law, Laura, was running in this event, and would catch up with him and walk the two Park loops as he finished off the race.

After traveling through the ‘hood on the first leg of our journey, once we reached the Park entrance, Laura, true to her word, was standing there and ready to walk the remaining portion with her father-in-law.  She had already finished the 5K in 32 minutes.  The three of us visited as we walked along,  crossed the parking lot once again, then strolled along the two loops (the remaining 1.9 miles).

With the finish line in sight, it’s always fun for the walkers to break into a little run as you near the end of the race.  Stuart crossed and got his finisher medal, a little bling to celebrate his very first 5K and this picture will help memorialize it as well.

I crossed a few seconds later and just captured my time in this image directly above.

I got my medal and wanted to get a few more steps in so I went back onto the path to feed the squirrels as I knew they’d be out foraging once the crowd dispersed to the pavilion for snacks, water and kudos from friends and family.

This was the first bunny I’ve seen in the Park or the neighborhood in months, but there he was, this tiny soul nibbling on the tall grass, his pale pink ears translucent in the morning sun. 

What a cutie pie he was and I took quite a few photos of him before he hopped away.

At the cement landing, the turtles were once again basking in the sun … you can see the cottonwood fuzz on the water. 

You can also see how high the water level is … this is a storm drain, covered with a cement ledge.  I have often stood on the ledge to take pictures downstream.  It is now almost submerged and it’s easy for the turtles to just slide right into the Creek.  The big turtle did just that and the smaller one remained.

As I left to head home, I caught up with Stuart, his wife and Laura, so I paused to take a picture of Stuart and Laura with their medals.

It was nice meeting you both and I hope you will visit this blog post tonight.  While walking home, it was not lost on me that the last two critters I photographed were a turtle and a bunny.  My mind wandered as I thought of the old fable about the tortoise and the hare.  Laura sure was as fast as a hare and Stuart and I were the tortoises … but we all finished and helped fund a worthy endeavor.

[Map of event course courtesy of Lincoln Park Schools Education Foundation]

Posted in 5K events, nature, walk | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Today was a SUNsational day!

But, there is no rhyme or reason to this season.  I listened to the weather before my morning departure – 55 degrees F (13 C), so I dressed for 55 degrees.  The weatherman even said it was coolish out due to yesterday’s gloomy day.  However, I cast off my hoodie, tied it around my waist, then rolled up my sleeves halfway to the Park.  Whew, that sun was hot, or was it just my imagination?  Nope, I arrived at the Park and, just like me, I saw several other women walkers, their hoodies looped around their waist and in short-sleeved shirts. 

When I returned home, the weatherman said “we’re in for a spike in temperatures because the temps will climb to 80 degrees (27 C) and now the high angle of the sun will make it very easy to get sunburned, so be sure to apply the sunscreen.” 

In my mind I flashed back to my teen years and cautions by my mom like “don’t lay out in the sun – you’ll end up looking like a prune when you’re older” or “if you get a few more burns like this one, you’ll look like old shoe leather – neither your grandmother or me laid in the sun and we have skin like a baby’s bum.”

So … ask me if I laid out in the sun anyway?  Yes, I did and maybe you ignored that good advice too?  I ended up with a few really bad sunburns from parking myself in front of a sun lamp or baking out in the backyard.  I was, and still am, fair-skinned and I even conceded “you were right Mom” while she slathered on the Noxzema medicated skin cream to tame that burn. 

Bathing beauties.

It’s okay to laze around in the sun if you’re a Snapping Turtle – after all, you waited through that long, cold Winter while burrowed down in the silt, deep below the Creek, dreaming of the day you’d come out to the cement landing and bask in the sunshine. 

Perhaps my best advice to mother and daughter turtle is to at least apply a little zinc oxide to those perky noses!

Posted in nature, walk | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

The Bird is the Word.

GRUMPY CAT MAY BE GONE, BUT CHECK OUT THIS ROBIN’S SCOWL.
HMM – I WONDER WHO STEPPED ON ITS TOES?

I have enjoyed birds for many years, from the parakeets and canaries who were beloved pets, to the backyard birds that would line up on the chain-link fence every morning all year around to await their breakfast. In the Summer I’d watch them enjoying a cool drink or splashing in the multiple birdbaths I had in the backyard. It was a sad day when a new neighbor moved in behind and left his dog out 24/7/365 and never cleaned up after it and I discovered rats were visiting my yard. My garden, which had been a bird and butterfly paradise, was no longer a haven to enjoy, and I had to get rid of the bird feeders and birdbaths when a pest control service was brought in to bait the rats.

But I still can enjoy my fine-feathered friends on my walks, or when I am out and about in the neighborhood; they just aren’t technically “my birds” anymore. I love whistling back at them and go note for note. I usually give up whistling before they do when my “whistler” stops working. Try it one time when you’re in the backyard and you hear a bird singing – they enjoy doing this.

I’ve been photographing a lot of birds lately and have amassed many pictures … so, there was a dilemma. Do I have a post on only Robins, or just Red-Winged Blackbirds? And how about those NEW cute cardinal-with-a-peanut photos that you haven’t seen yet? Do I make a follow-up “Nutty Buddies”post? Decisions, decisions … so I decided to solve my problem and continue my run on bird posts, following on the heels of the Canada geese and goslings, and yesterday’s Mute Swan.

We have a new type of bird at Council Point Park – a Baltimore Oriole. I have been reading at the local Audubon and Wild Birds Unlimited Facebook sites, that we have lots of Orioles this year. I saw one flit by me and disappear into a tall tree last week. Another walker suggested I research their song online so I could identify with it before I actually looked for them. I don’t know what Orioles would be feasting on at the Park, grubs probably, but I do know Orioles love it if you put out half an orange for them on a simple feeder that is just a long nail driven into a board. They have quite the sweet tooth and like a little grape jelly or marmalade mixed with some water and placed right into their feeder … no English muffin, toast or peanut butter is necessary for them to show up to enjoy that jelly. Hopefully I see an Oriole this Summer and this stray orange-and-black feathered fellow wasn’t just passing through!

American Robin.

I may not like when the Robins try to build their nests in my front coach light – it is messy with mud, dried grass and bird droppings everywhere, so I have to shoo them away with plastic bags stuffed in the lamp elbow. It’s not a good look as to curb appeal for the house, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the Robins who cross my path.

Last month I showed you Mama Robin on the nest and then the hatchlings. I thought she was incubating the eggs originally, but it turns out she must have been keeping those hatchlings warm on those chilly days we had in mid-May. I posted some photos of those baby birds and was monitoring their growth, and one day – poof they were gone. I was a little bummed because I had hoped they would be like the other Robin families and the fledglings would stay near the nest, but they all up and left … they said “bye-bye, gotta fly!” I was sad to see the empty nest and even Mama and Papa were no longer around.

They had usually been close to their young ones, seeming to gaze off into space at times, but one eye was always watching those hatchlings with their mouths gaping open, awaiting worms and grubs from their parents. This was a photo I took a day or so before they became a pair of empty nesters.

I find that Robins have a perpetual scowl on their faces (especially the ones I’ve chased away and torn down their nests in the past). But, despite that stern look, like the Robin is wearing in the photo up top, they are interesting to observe and I love their cheerful birdsong. Here are some of my photos I’ve taken the last few weeks of the American Robin. There are times the Robins land on the perimeter path as if to say “if you’re doling out peanuts, how about doling out some mealworms too?

Since I don’t bring along Robin treats, I get the scowl and often a dive-bomb from one of our red-breasted friends.

Northern Cardinal.

The male Northern Cardinal is so beautiful and at the Park it seems the males are much bolder in their pursuit of peanuts than the females. Very rarely do I see the rather drab-colored female venture to the perimeter path.

Once again you’ll see below that the male Cardinal watched me from the tree as I was feeding the squirrels. So, with that advance notice, I had the camera ready as I knew he was going to soon swoop and swipe, just the same as in all the other photos I’ve posted. I had to laugh as he came down a little too quickly and a squirrel was nearby … it looks like this Cardinal put on the brakes in the second shot! Then he waits patiently on the pathway, as the squirrel, busily noshing on a nut, ignores his presence … in he goes and this bright red bird is ready for his own peanut nirvana.

Red-Winged Blackbird.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds are mean and ornery and will peck any bird, no matter the size, to antagonize it … the male is not defending its mate and the nest when I see these altercations. It just picks on geese or other birds and pecks them on the back or head. This species of bird is a bully, but a striking-looking one. This time I included a few photos of the female. I was walking past the reeds and saw a pair sitting near the bulrushes so I think perhaps they were nesting there. The female may be a dull brown, but her stripes make her easily identifiable. She does not grab peanuts from the perimeter path – she lets her mate do that dirty work because she’s a stay-at-home mom. Both the female and male Red-Winged Blackbirds are pretty vocal – just look at that beak when it’s open.

While the trees were still flowering, I heard, before I saw, this male Red-Winged Blackbird trilling amongst the blossoms. It sure was a beautiful sight to behold.

Even when he was “at rest” you could not help but admire him.

I think they are a force to be reckoned with, no matter where they are located.

Canada Geese.

There will be at least one or two more posts chockfull of geese and gosling photos, but here’s a parting shot of a couple of Canada Geese enjoying a breakfast of spent dandelions.

Posted in Uncategorized | 47 Comments