Frozen Foray!  #Wordless Wednesday  #Shiver on the River #Primo spot for eagles  

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, nature, Seasons, walk, walking, Winter | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Winter walks in wacky weather.

Grateful for short hops in the ‘hood or the Park when Winter is at its worst.

I love alliteration and this blog post title pretty much sums up Southeast Michigan’s not-so-wonderful weather since the beginning of the year. I am mindful that Mother Nature’s mood swings are wreaking havoc nationwide and I am grateful we didn’t receive this latest Winter wallop. Right now, it is Sunday afternoon and while writing this post, the furnace is chugging away as we experience our third Polar air mass in 2022.

I did walk this past weekend and admit it was uncomfortably cold, despite donning multiple layers of clothing. I was at Council Point Park both days. Saturday I slipped down to Dingell Park when the temperature was 12 F (-11 C), with a real feel of 6 F (-14 C). Bundled up or not, boy that north wind was a killer. I’ll have some photos of my brrrrrrisk walk near the frozen Detroit River in this week’s Wordless Wednesday post.

We’ve had a roller-coaster ride weather-wise, so the freeze-thaw cycle has been off the charts; soon potholes will be popping up everywhere. We started out with a wintry mix in the early morning of January 2nd and, though the snow was pretty and pristine, we were left with a coating of ice. My street was treacherous. I ventured out to the street one morning and decided it too icy, so I came back into the house. I didn’t walk for an entire week.

When I finally made it to Council Point Park the following Saturday, the 8th, we had frigid temps, but I decided to brave the ice and cold at mid-day. It took me 20 minutes to get dressed for what would be a two-mile round trip walk to the Park and a one-mile perimeter path/loop. Hefting my bag of squirrel and bird treats, in lug-soled boots, I picked my way around my icy street, then when I arrived at the cross-street, much to my chagrin, I discovered it was totally ice-free. Wending my way down Pagel Avenue was wonderful, as it was also clear to the cement. The Park’s parking lot and perimeter path had similarly been plowed and salted. Oops! I felt terrible that I’d not ventured farther than the end of my driveway in a solid week, but with Omicron stats surging here in Michigan, I was not going to risk taking a tumble on the ice and breaking a bone.

I decided to lavish treats on my furry and feathered friends to make up for my absence, so I brought hazelnuts and walnuts, along with the usual fare of peanuts and sunflower seeds. I’m reserving the remaining suet and birdseed bell in case we get another Arctic blast in February.

I was greeted like a long-lost friend as the squirrels scurried over to see me. I sweet-talked them a little as I spread out their treats at each of the three spots. Sweet-talkin’ USUALLY never hurts anyone, but those puffs of warm breath under my N95 mask caused my glasses to fog up (despite the anti-fogging spray application). Soon tiny rivulets of water were traveling down the lenses and making a glaze on them, so I’m not sure I could tell Rex the Woodpecker from a Cardinal or Blue Jay. The ever-charming Parker could always step on my toes or tug at my sweatpants if my glasses were too fogged up to see him. I decided against removing my mask and thankfully, I made it home in one piece, despite seeing about 50% at best.

From “freezy” to “breezy” in 24 hours.

That evening we had freezing rain – oh joy … well, there goes the walking again. Very early Sunday morning, the 9th, it was a crystalline landscape. The traffic reporter cautioned listeners about treacherous driving, while the weatherman assured us “by mid-day it should be balmy.” Sure enough, by noon, the sun was out, the ice was gone and I knew I could shed at least six articles of clothing for that mid-day walk as it was 37 F (2 C).

It was easy navigating to the Park, but once I was there the wind picked up. The gusty wind was buffeting me and I flipped my coat hood up to secure my hat from going airborne and headed home posthaste. Once home I learned the wind gusts were 24 mph (39 kph). Yikes! That night we plunged into the Deep Freeze for another two days.

But … good things come to those who wait.

The very next day, Wednesday, the 12th, it was 25 degrees warmer than the day before! So I seized that opportunity to get five miles walked at the Park and strolling around the ‘hood.

Not all portions of the Ecorse Creek were frozen as you see below. You will see some geese were swimming, others standing on ice.

While walking on the path, I heard the ice cracking. There was an ice floe where a trio of Mallards were huddled together, their bright-orange feet in contrast to the ice.

Around the bend, near the cement ledge over the sewer drain, a quick glimpse toward the water told me why at least two dozen Mallards were noisily congregating.

They were there to score breakfast.

A not-so-ducky event.

The seagulls had been buzzing around overhead and screeching their heads off just before the holidays. I also saw them sitting on the surface of the water like this many times.

From nearly nine years of walking at this venue, I knew the shad were running. Shad are small feeder fish and the seagulls, ducks and geese converge at the Creek and Detroit River to eat them.

The frigid weather caused the Creek to ice over and without oxygen, the shad did not survive. Shad bodies littered the shoreline, their lifeless eyes staring upward. Even more dead shad were bobbing on the Creek’s surface, much to the delight of the ducks. Ewwwww!

Through the years I’ve watched the waterfowl wrangling these shad, dead or alive. I’ve come to the conclusion it takes some dexterity to maneuver a shad into a beak and down the hatch and I’ve done a few picture-laden posts about it in the past. In this instance, there were plenty of dead fish, so there was no fighting.

As you see below, Mrs. Mallard clearly had the prowess to snag the biggest fish.

Mr. Mallard didn’t do too badly either, though it looks like he was getting some hints from the Missus.

I added this wee bit of whimsy to my walk in the ‘hood.

I’ve always been fascinated with this home and its touches of whimsy. You see they have a Certified Wildlife Habitat sign. I similarly had a sign in my yard when I provided food, water and shelter in a sanctuary for the birds and butterflies; this was before back-to-back Polar Vortexes ravaged my backyard garden. So, I wondered if this is why the pumpkins were lined up at the edge of the property? You can see the critters have been gnawing on them before snow coated the tops and recesses of these orange orbs.

I was amazed to see the Flowering Kale were still thriving, some still in their pots. Were they also left there for the miscellaneous and sundry critters to chomp on? Maybe the next time I’m considering hardy flowers to plant, these would be a good choice.

The homeowners obviously love birds, from the line-up of bird feeders …

… to this peaceful sign in the garden.

I’ve taken photos at this home in Spring when multiple gardens erupt with pale pink tulips and at the height of Summer when yard art peeks out between the perennials. These concrete critters embedded in the ivy groundcover look no worse for the wear from our wacky weather.

This guy reminds me of warmer days.

How I wish it was a hot August day and I was at the Park watching a line of Painted Turtles plop off the log, one by one, after they catch sight of me. I have remarked to a few fellow bloggers this past week that I vow not to moan and groan about August’s heat and humidity, as those whiny words haunt me on a frigid day in Winter.

This was my last stop and it lightened my mood as I knew the next day we’d be back to frigid mode, once again with an anticipated wintry mix ushering in black ice – ugh! I guess I’ll just keep creepin’ along like this guy through the gray and gloomy days that so define this season.

Posted in nature, Seasons, walk, walking, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 58 Comments

Ol’ Man Winter is testing my mettle and meddling with my miles!  #Wordless Wednesday #Grrr!

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, Winter | Tagged , , | 55 Comments

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Since we recently enjoyed the holiday season, I decided to push this post ahead of my three November excursions, plus I’m still mindful of that trio of treks to the Ford Estate, same which remain simmering on the back burner. Fingers crossed I’ll finally be posting about treks taken and written in real time once Spring arrives?!

This December 26th walk was a seize-the-day-because-it-is-the-calm-before-the-storm outing as we were slated for a wintry mix of precip to arrive mid-afternoon. We lacked a white Christmas – instead it was pouring raining. I felt rather smug as I had my walking goal locked in place, so I shut off the alarm clock and slept in Christmas morning – a rare treat for me.

But Boxing Day, (the day after Christmas for you non-Canucks), dawned bright and slightly over the freezing mark, so I decided to head out. The traffic reporter cautioned about freezing fog in the southern tier of counties, but I peered out the front door and it looked fine, so I headed out early.

I stopped at Council Point Park for a quick one-mile walk to feed the critters and discovered, just like a few weeks before, a mere mile from my home, freezing fog was glistening on the brittle and curled-up leaves and on the grass. I figured by the time I reached my next destination, it would be fine to walk (or so I thought).

I went gallivanting on Grosse Ile.

I hadn’t visited the Island since March 2020, just prior to when the pandemic lockdown began. That day I took an impromptu trip to look for those tiny singing frogs known as “Spring Peepers” and had no luck finding them, so I went to the alpaca farm to look at those cutie pies instead.

The Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge over the Trenton Channel (a/k/a “The Free Bridge”), was closed since May 2020 and just re-opened on December 3rd. Though it was targeted for re-opening in late 2020, structural problems, including deterioration to the underwater piers, delayed the opening an additional year. For those of you that don’t live in this area, there is a toll bridge available for residents and visitors, costing $5.00 round trip, but the lines were long to get on and off the Island the duration of the closure. In declaring the structure sound and stable once again, the engineers estimated the repairs added 20-30 years of life to this nearly century-old free bridge.

I mused that maybe I’d see a Canada Goose or two for Boxing Day.

I missed two Springtime gosling arrivals at Grosse Ile. The huge and stately homes along East River Road are near the Detroit River’s edge, separated only by that busy street. If you are lucky enough to find a place to park (public parking is a rarity here along the riverfront and trespassing is a big “no- no”), you will see multiple feathered friends, i.e. Mom and Pop Canada Goose guiding their goslings by waddling around homeowners’ lawns, strolling across the busy road, or maybe meandering near the water. So I drove by and found nothing to pique my interest for taking out the camera nor scaring up a parking spot. Next I headed to Horse Mill Road looking for deer – perhaps I’d see a couple of bucks crossing the road like last time. Not a deer to be found.

Two strikes on this excursion thus far, so I made my way back to Meridian Road and decided to visit this 153-acre Open Space woodsy area where I last was looking for Spring Peepers.

Parking is easy-peasy; across the street is the parking lot of Meridian Elementary School.

I parked and headed to the wooded area, took out the camera and proceeded to cross the wooden bridge, but quickly backed off after I slid, despite wearing lug-soled hiking boots – “nope, not gonna do that” I told myself. You can see the slick surface.

What what wasn’t slick or slightly frozen, appeared to be submerged in water.

In the adjacent wooded area, frost had settled onto fallen leaves, but a bigger threat, in my opinion, was that the mild temps meant ticks might be in the leaves and I wanted no hitchhikers. Scientists are already predicting another tick explosion for ALL of 2022, not just the warmer months. Sigh.

Well, that was a short trip! Annoyed, I crossed the road again, not really in the mood to return to the car, nor entertain the need to figure out another destination with impending bad weather. Just then a jogger ran down this path into a wooded area and was soon out of sight.

Good – I would investigate and this was somewhere new to me. I wandered along the path …

… which was nothing special and it appeared our recent heavy winds had taken down many trees, leaving the area looking a little like overgrown Pick-Up-Stix

I eventually turned back, discouraged by multiple muddy puddles which I didn’t want seeping into my boots. “It’s always something” I muttered to myself.

I decided the only good thing about this day was it was sunny enough to get a decent, long-shadow selfie like you see up top.

Well, that would do it – nothing more to see here. I went closer to the elementary school to take pictures of the words emblazoned on two park benches out front. I guess you’re never too young to know about these virtues; so will these pearls of wisdom remain with the students the rest of their lives? I momentarily thought of the impact the November 30th murderous rampage at Oxford High School by a fellow classmate had impacted the community and our state.

I pushed those sad thoughts aside once I saw a poster of this Dr. Seuss book title taped to a school window, so I took a photo of it and decided that would be my title for today’s post (hmm, better have a catchy title as this walk wasn’t going to create much fodder for photos or a narrative).

There was a “Little Free Library” and I chuckled to see that nestled between The Jungle Book and 101 Dalmations was a book on exercising, then next to that how to combat pain through food. I wondered aloud if it was the same donor – so the how-to book did not work so well?

As I was unlocking the car door, I noticed a Blue Jay and went to get a photo (yay – finally a critter for my post). He/she flew off, but I saw a wooded area which looked to be a neighborhood … well I was leery about driving to any other parks due to the predicted wintry mix, so why not explore a little?

So that is how I ended up at Hawthorn.

A different type of nature nook.

I didn’t really feel like I was trespassing, as I was walking, not driving and just enjoying the ambiance of this community.

I spent the next two hours walking along, pleased with this nature nook along Nathan Drive.

This was a winding road which took me through a condo and housing complex. I was impressed by the many picturesque ponds and best of all, no muddy feet or puddles to tromp through. In a Google search later that day, I discovered there were 300 homes and condos which were all situated off Nathan Drive.

A jogger passed by and gave me a wave and mouthed “good morning” as did a pair of dog walkers, thus I reckoned I didn’t look like an trespasser or intruder, but probably someone visiting for Christmas.

It smelled like Christmas trees here and you may not be able to tell, but resin was dripping from the pine cones. Having not had or smelled a real Christmas tree since I was a child, what a heady scent it was.

I was sure I’d see deer in the woodsy area, but nary a one.

Even in the usual barren and blah-looking Winter landscape, I thought the reflections of the trees on the ponds were beautiful. The Weeping Willows had retained some of their leaves – or maybe the warm weather earlier in the month triggered the unfurling of leaves?

In this pond, a thin veil of ice had formed on the surface after that incessant rain had stopped.

I saw (as well as heard) Canada Geese and grabbed a few shots.

There were some geese squabbling in the distance.

There were songbirds galore as I passed many bird feeders. By sound I identified Cardinals, Bluejays, Nuthatches and Chickadees, a delight to the ears as I walked through this massive Hawthorn complex. There weren’t many Christmas decorations, but this house looked festive with its berries, bulbs and bird feeders.

The only item that marred the mostly picturesque area was the intrusion of the twin, striped steam vent stacks of the DTE Trenton Channel Power Plant in the background. (Of course if you used your imagination you might imagine them as candy canes in this holiday season.)

I retraced my route and ended back at the car and sunk down into the seat. I checked the pedometer: 6.3 miles and even though I’d already made my mileage goal, I would add this for good measure. I snapped on the radio to hear the progress of the storm and learned the wintry mix had slowed down. No problem, I was going to head for home anyway. (Actually I returned home with plenty of time to spare, as the ugly weather didn’t happen until the wee hours of Monday morning and it was the first of two ice storms we’ve received in as many weeks.)

Later, inspired by the Dr. Seuss poster about reading, I plunked down on the couch, opened a book … then promptly nodded off. The book tumbled onto the rug and I fell into a dead sleep.

[Dr. Seuss quote from Pinterest]

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Pretty, pristine, BUTT … a pain you know where! #Wordless Wednesday

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, nature, Winter | Tagged , , | 66 Comments

Happy New Year!

Did you know there is a Scandinavian custom that feeding the birds on New Year’s Day will bring you luck the rest of the year?

[Image from Birds and Blooms Magazine via Facebook]

Another nature lover sent me this video some time ago – it is about an hour long and there is no need to watch the entire video; just watch for a few minutes, or listen to it while you read this post, then tell me whether it brought you a little joy and peacefulness. Please click here.

When walking at Council Point Park, it is not just the squirrels who come a’callin’ and begging for peanuts and sunflower seeds. The Jays, Cardinals, Chickadees and sometimes the Downy Woodpeckers and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers likewise arrive to feast under the Safe Haven Tree, or on the path near the fallen log (where I fed them until brush and weeds overtook that area).

I love walking down the perimeter path as I hear the screech of a Blue Jay alerting its brethren that The Peanut Lady is on the premises. Sometimes the Jays or Cardinals follow me from tree to tree and, emboldened by these treats, quickly swoop down to snatch a peanut from the path. Maybe a Chickadee will alight on a nearby branch, waiting for me to move along so it can grab a sunflower seed (and no, I don’t take that personally).

The peaceful ambiance of the Park is sometimes interrupted by a cacophony of sounds emanating from the trees to the Creek. There is nothing like hearing the first call of a Red-Winged Blackbird come Spring, or the sweet song of a Goldfinch in the Summer. There are always Mallards at play with their loud quacking which sounds like raucous laughter and sometimes the honking of the geese as they come in for a landing can be deafening, but I always look up to watch them (and not just to know whether I need to cover my head and/or duck).

Taking a tally of the birds.

Besides participating in two “Bird Count” events in 2021, it’s time to revisit the perpetual “Birdie Bucket List” to see how I fared in 2021.

Well yay me! But, I am embarrassed to say I put out two hummingbird feeders daily for months in search of “Hope” the female hummer who visited in 2020. She showed up once, attracted by the red handle of the pole cutter I had leaned against a fence, so I hurried and put out her feeders. Then, after I finally put the feeders away in early Fall, she happened by. I insinuated she was a “slacker” thus I’d see her in the Spring of 2022.

I saw two Red-tailed Hawks on two occasions which made my day and I got some sweet photos of Mallard ducklings, including a close-up during the rescue of the ducklings from the sewer in July.

I look forward to many more walks and hopefully capturing images of new feathered friends as well.

But wait … don’t go yet! Keep on scrolling.

Every moment of the year has its own beauty. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve compiled a slideshow of my favorite 2021 shots, all which appeared in my blog. These are critters that I spent a lot of time oohing and aahing over, a group that runs the gamut from birdies to bunnies to Bambi – they were memorable moments, but I think you all know I was over the moon about Bambi. My walks in nature have been the balm that soothes my soul in this broken world we live in today.

Posted in birds, nature, New Year's Day, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 89 Comments

We’re ready to put a bow on 2021 …

… well yay for that and hopefully 2022 will be better all the way around and I don’t just mean as to COVID. It was a year of weather woes, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Here in SE Michigan I remained unscathed, but for me, the ultimate weather worrier, there were over 20 anxious evenings when temps and humidity spiked, bringing a threat for volatile weather. Mother Nature definitely had a bee in her bonnet throughout 2021.

I did walk today after the fog finally dissipated and the raindrops quit falling. I headed to my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. It was 43F (6C), not your typical December weather, though New Year’s Day we will be getting a few inches of snow and it will be much colder.

This post is short and sweet, merely to tell you I have walked a total of 1,276 miles (2,053 kilometers) in 2021. That is 20 miles over my original goal (1,256 miles/2,021 kilometers) which I reached ten days ago. I will merely add one more MILE to my goal for next year and the year 2022, will match the kilometers I will strive for.

Weather impacted my daily walks immensely. Though we are enjoying mild weather today, Monday through Wednesday we had freezing rain and a little snow. Tuesday it was above the freezing mark, so I ventured out, only to turn back and head home one block later. I was not sure-footed with patches of black ice on the sidewalk, despite wearing lug-soled hiking boots, so better to be safe than sorry.

This year began with lots of freezing rain and icy mornings. Spring and early Summer were fine but then Mother Nature gave us repeated bouts of torrential rain, which flooded the shoreline parks I frequent on weekends. The perpetual construction, coupled with the soggy trails, had me visiting venues close to home which seemed fine for a jaunt, although that was not always the case as post photos showed you flooded pathways and muddy grass.

So, I will head out tomorrow and do it all again, though we are expecting fog and drizzle before a snowstorm, so maybe I’ll just rest on my laurels.

Tomorrow I’ve already prepared a recap of favorite photos from my 2021 walks, but for now, please click here for a New Year’s greeting to all of you around the world and across the time zones in this continent.

Posted in goal, holiday, walk, walking | Tagged , , | 57 Comments

What is Empty Nest Syndrome.  #Wordless Wednesday #Squirrel dreys

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, Squirrels | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Meet and greet, but where’s my treat?

A quick glance at my roly-poly pal Parker the Fox Squirrel may have you murmuring to yourself “that squirrel looks like he’s been in the eggnog and cookies and doesn’t need any treats!”

In my recent post “Season’s Eatings” I wrote about treats left for my furry and feathered friends for the holiday, so I hope you will smile after reading about the shameless begging by my chubby buddy Parker.

On a recent Saturday morning, I planned a two-park agenda – first to Council Point Park, then a five-mile drive to Heritage Park to see their holiday décor. In the early morning weather report, the meteorologist said it was foggy, so I figured the fog would put the kibosh on the latter trip. When I looked out the front door, there was no sign of fog; I shook my head and off I went.

I arrived at Council Point Park, one mere mile away, where I discovered a few slick white patches in the parking lot – hmm. Temps were just at the freezing mark. The walking path had similar icy patches, but what struck me was the fallen leaves which had a thin coating of ice. Aah – it was freezing fog! The leaves looked a little like “Frosted Flakes” and the grass was similarly slick, so I decided to gingerly walk a couple of miles and take my time getting up to Heritage Park where surely their flooded pathways would be treacherous right now. I left droppings of peanuts in the shell and sunflower seeds at the usual three spots, entirely depleting my stash and unbelievably never saw a bird or a squirrel.

To kill some time, I took pictures of the frozen leaves, then I stopped at this decorated memorial tree to take a few shots since I’ve featured this tree before in my blog.

My peanut pal Parker was on the prowl.

The colossal blunder of being without a single peanut in my pocket, would soon be realized. There I stood taking photos of the tree, when suddenly I felt a tug on the back of my sweatpants. I didn’t have to have eyes at the back of my head to realize Parker had appeared on the scene and placed one clawed paw on the back of my sweatpants and gave a little tug.

I whirled around and once he was assured I saw him, Parker crept over to my right side. I burst out laughing and said “Honey, I’m all out … here, let me take you to where the nuts and seeds are down the path a little bit – follow me, okay?” But Parker, being Parker, endearing but sometimes stubborn, would have none of that. He wanted some peanuts NOW, dropped before his front paws, like he was a little prince.

Who could resist that pleading face?

Then there was another subtle reminder, for good measure, as I felt the pressure of a tiny paw on the side of my sweat pants.

Even the little “kiss” he planted on my hiking boot, still wouldn’t guarantee peanuts would magically appear.

He looked crestfallen and went up to a nearby tree. With crossed paws, he proceeded to pout …

… and glare at me for this food faux pas.

So how did those tactics work out Parker? Well, not so good. Since all I did was take photos of him, a persistent and impatient Parker exited the tree and circled around me to try again, sniffing the grass in case I’d tossed a peanut or two his way when he blinked and might have missed them.

One last steely gaze at me seemed to say “thanks a lot for nothing Linda” and Parker scurried off.

Oops. Well this was a Christmastime conundrum to be sure. I had broken my own cardinal rule to never give out all the peanuts without holding a few in reserve. That’s because a few years ago I did just that … I ran out of peanuts, produced the empty bag, yet one squirrel persisted in following me and/or running ahead of me. I gestured again to the empty bag, but that didn’t deter him one iota from following me. I had driven that particular day, only to arrive back at the car at the end of my walk, to see that same Fox Squirrel “parked” next to the car awaiting my return. He sat on his haunches, in begging stance, with pleading eyes, while swishing that tail. Perhaps he thought I had peanuts in the car. I christened that little bugger “Parker” that day.

P.S. – Not only was I happy to see my furry friend again, but it gave me an opportunity to grab a few shots to show you just how chubby the squirrels get in late Fall. It’s not the peanuts that make them fat. Mother Nature provides him and the other squirrels an extra fat layer and thicker fur to withstand the sometimes brutal Michigan Winter. So, no … I’m not fat shaming Parker at all!

Posted in Christmas, nature, Squirrels, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

Merry Christmas to all …

Click here please.

Posted in Christmas | 34 Comments