Rovin’ and ‘Ritin’ …

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It seems I’ve done neither of the above much lately.

Oh, I did that post the other day about my boss and his trip on the high seas, which was an occasion to tout that I had surpassed the halfway mark to my eventual goal.  I am still striving to stride toward that goal, though Mother Nature made it tough to do so this weekend.

Friday was designated as an errand day, much as I hate to waste my walking time for such mundane stuff, but one must eat and thus a visit to the grocery store was in order.  Then there was the tax bill to be paid, plus a few other miscellaneous and sundry tasks requiring the car.  The pedometer told me that I racked up almost two miles and two miles was better than nothing, but it was not fodder for a Friday post.

Saturday it rained all day.

This morning I didn’t fare much better, but, unlike yesterday, at least I made it outside.  I listened to the weatherman and checked out “The Weather Channel” online and it was all good, so I hustled myself to get going before the rain’s expected arrival in the 9:00 o’clock hour.

But once outside, the sky was dark and ugly, it was just 65 degrees and quite blustery.  I took the car to give it a spin, and, while driving to Council Point Park, the first little “spits” began.  A few raindrops dotting the windshield here and there … okay, maybe I could live with that, except I didn’t bring an umbrella as I believed I’d be home before the rain’s ETA.  I even went so far as pulling  into the parking lot at Council Point Park, but then the spits became splats and I muttered a few words, pulled back out and headed for home.

It isn’t like I would be twiddling my thumbs in boredom here at the house, because I often put blinders on to the dust bunnies and clutter that persists.  Between working, walking and blogging, it leaves scant time for little more than eating and sleeping.  Housework always gets put on the back burner.

My other dilemma, besides the rain intruding on my weekend walks and the chance to visit different venues and take more photos, is that Council Point Park has been very boring lately.  I wrote about the squirrels last week – the young‘uns  are skittish and the “regulars” seems to be missing in action most days.  Occasionally, I drag out my Ziploc bag of peanuts and my camera is at the ready, but those occasions have become few and far between.

The Park robins, having reared their young, have abandoned their nests and are now at large in the Park.

The geese and goslings are long gone and won’t return until Fall, once their flying feathers have all grown in.  By then, the goslings will look (and act) like their parents, so any photos shall be just ho-hum.

So, I’m sharing a few photos from my morning jaunts over the past few weeks.  None of these photos in this collection of critters really merit an entire post, but that is just my opinion.

First, a dirty old pear was what this chubby squirrel was chomping on as I passed by.  I don’t know that I’d scramble down from a tall tree for this morsel when my friend Linda is offering up peanuts … but then, I don’t think like a squirrel.

CHUBBY CHEEKS

This peanut pal was acting a little squirrelly, dancing around in the middle of the pathway.  It is the same squirrel I featured the other day, but this time in a standing pose.  Perhaps he had been out in the sun too long?

SQUIRREL DANCING

In trying to establish a rapport with the young squirrels, I toss out some peanuts whenever I see them, even though I’m usually rewarded with a deer-in-the-headlights look for my efforts.  But, I know they will come around eventually.  The peanuts don’t go to waste because the cardinals and red-winged blackbirds try to remedy the squirrels’ snubbing of treats, by flying down to snatch a peanut for themselves.  Here’s a photo of a cardinal who flew down to the asphalt pathway BEFORE a peanut landed there.  Imagine his surprise, he who lives by the motto “the early bird catches the worm” – I made it worth his while for his incredible swooping efforts.

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This inquisitive bunny caught my eye one morning.  I inched closer to him and he did not bolt, but posed nicely.  I wondered what the heck was on the back of his ear, and zoomed in for a closer look, thinking I could tell better when I got home and uploaded the photos.  I’m no further ahead, but it looks like a snail?

BUNNY1

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Here’s the heron who humored me this time by posing for a photo.  He is in the same place every morning, scoping out the murky water for his breakfast.  I peek through the bushes as I near the cement landing, so I know whether or not to have the camera ready.  Aha!!  Gotcha … this time anyway.  Usually, just as soon as I appear in his peripheral vision, he takes off, pulling his feet up from the cement landing, flapping those huge wings, his hurried flight accompanied by a prolonged croaking noise as he heads down the narrow passageway of the Ecorse Creek.

HERON ON CEMENT LANDING

These might be the tiniest inhabitANTs at the Park, but at least they weren’t at someone’s picnic.  I had my share of ants this year, first the wiggly ones at the kitchen sink, then the winged ones flying around my face seeking a mate, which siege lasted 24 hours, then they mysteriously disappeared (thank goodness).

ANTS IN PATH

The grass at the Park is filled with morning glories as far as the eye can see.

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The bunnies love munching on the morning glories.

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One morning I came across a woman who was picking something that grew along the pathway.  From a distance I squinted to see what she was taking.  I knew it wasn’t berries at that location, so I snapped her picture from afar.

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As I neared her, to satisfy my curiosity, I asked why she was plucking leaves off a plant.  She told me it was milkweed and she was harvesting the leaves for her Monarch caterpillars she had at home, because, even though she grows milkweed, (the host plant for Monarchs), she needed many more milkweed leaves for all her baby Monarch caterpillars.  Her reply initiated a whole conversation as I relayed my story of when I bought a milkweed plant from the Wyandotte Street Art Fair, complete with a half-dozen Monarch baby caterpillars and mosquito netting wrapped around the plant and pot.  I thought it would be fun to release these butterflies when they emerged from their cocoon.  But, in record time, the six baby caterpillars ate all the milkweed leaves and I had to find more leaves to feed them pronto, so I gave the “kit” away to a butterfly enthusiast in Allen Park who raised Monarchs and released them from her backyard.  Just like me, this young woman had run out of “baby food” and was there picking leaves for the growing caterpillars.  As she reached into the leaves, she was triumphant over the discovery of a tiny Monarch caterpillar and showed it to me.  I should have taken a photo of it, but we were busy talking and I didn’t want to be rude.  (It was bad enough I asked why she was picking leaves off the plant … the plant didn’t belong to me!)

Here is a photo of the milkweed plant.

MILKWEED ON PATHWAY

This young woman also raises Black Swallowtail butterflies and their host plant is Queen Anne’s Lace, so she has plenty of this lacy-looking wildflower (pictured below) growing in her backyard.

QUEEN ANNES LACE

The rain was pesky in that it interrupted my walking plans, but truly it was needed.  We were in almost drought-like conditions before this weekend’s rain.  My lawn was not just brown, but crispy.  The Park pathway is strewn with leaves, mostly yellow and brown, crinkly and curled up, just like it was the end of September rather than mid-July.

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Our weather is not so stellar this coming week, with fits and starts of rain and thunderstorms intermingled with heat and humidity.  Once again, I will scratch my head and say “and I waited all Winter and most of Spring for this?”

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Seize the day!

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You’ve no doubt heard the expression “carpe diem” which translates to “seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow” – that phrase came into play this week at work.

We’ve been very busy the past few months, and when a big hearing suddenly got rescheduled from June 23rd to August 1st, my boss Robb and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  With most of the prep work already done, the adjournment allowed for a wee bit of down time, so Robb, and his friend Scott, thought they might eke out an impromptu freighter trip around the Great Lakes.

As a management labor attorney, Robb has clients that range from non-profit corporations, to construction companies, and several clients are involved in the maritime industry.  One client has a collection of freighters and tug barges, so every Spring, Robb and Scott consult their calendars and block off some time, usually a week, to escape to “sea” and get away from it all – you might even say they “seas” the day!  Although the trip can be three to five days long, they have to block off a week on their calendars, because the freighter is often at the mercy of the weather, or even a backlog of other freighters similarly unloading at the same terminals, causing the vessel to arrive or depart later than scheduled.   Here’s a picture of the freighter they are on: http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/alpena.htm

In the nearly eighteen years I’ve worked for Robb, he’s only missed one Summer without a freighter trip and that was last year.  He and Scott, a busy trial attorney, had set aside a week for their annual getaway, and, at the last moment there was a mix-up in scheduling at the boat and they had to forego their trip.  This year, they decided to make no plans at all, and just “wing it” when the occasion came up.  After our hearing got adjourned and Scott’s calendar miraculously was free, the opportunity to get away appeared to come to fruition.  Robb gets a daily e-mail called a “Vessel Position Report” which details the itinerary of each boat in the fleet, so on Monday he discovered the Steamship Alpena would arrive in Detroit on Tuesday night.  Talk about a lucky break!

The pair hopped aboard in Southwest Detroit for a multi-port itinerary, where they’ve already stopped in Cleveland, Ohio, then full speed ahead to the Michigan ports of Essexville and Alpena.  Friday they will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then back to Alpena, and finally home to Detroit over the weekend.

During this journey, they will cross three major bodies of water: Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.  Here is a map of the Great Lakes that I got online from “World Atlas” to illustrate the journey for my blogging pals who are not familiar with the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Map.jpg

Robb e-mailed me the picture up top of the smokestack, (or “stack”), toward the stern of the S.S. Alpena as they cruised along Lake Erie.  You might remember my trip to Lake Erie almost two weeks ago where I walked along that three-mile shoreline with the huge boulders and the heron with the wacky-looking feathers and the big yawn.   They are enjoying good weather this trip, so Robb has had a cellphone signal all along and e-mailed they are crossing Lake Huron today.

So, while my boss is logging nautical miles, I have been logging lots of walking miles (and some computer screen time as well since he left me work to do).  This past three days have been very enjoyable for walking, and I walked five miles each outing.  As of today, I have walked 527 miles this year, so I’ve finally crossed that halfway mark to my final goal, with a couple of miles to spare.  Every day while out on my daily trek, I do question the wisdom of trying to match last year’s whopping amount of miles (250 more than my intended goal), and, if we’d had more gorgeous days like these, I would not be questioning my abilities.  Mother Nature has challenged me at every turn, but I’m happy to have reached this milestone and at my favorite go-to spot to boot.

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Tails from the trail.

hark who goes there

I know you think I made a spelling boo-boo, but I did not.  Today’s post is a tale about tails on the trail, and no, it’s not a sequel to the post about “Stubby” that hapless squirrel who’s missing half his furry tail.

But first, let’s back up a bit.  It was truly a glorious morning, coolish temps in the 60s and low humidity and a sheer pleasure to be out and about.  I’m savoring these few cooler days as heat and humidity return the end of the week and then it is a stormy weekend.

I’m happy to report that my furry pals, a/k/a the squirrels, are slowly returning to the Park’s perimeter path again.  A fellow walker, (who, like me, always carries a Ziploc bag of peanuts on his hip), had a suggestion in response to my query “have squirrels been begging for peanuts from you?”  He said “no, not really” but, when I said I worried that the squirrels were fearful of the predator birds circling overhead, he suggested they were likely getting their food source from pinecones and the berry bushes scattered around Council Point Park.

While some of my old-time furry friends are coming around once again, I’m dismayed that I’ve yet to see Parker, my favorite Park squirrel.  I hope it is just that he’s relocated to a nearby neighborhood, or he’s just not roaming around at ground level the same time that I am there.  The other squirrels don’t dog me for peanuts by climbing up onto my shoe or trying to scale my leg – nope, Parker is rather unique in that respect.

Here’s Parker’s picture – if you see him, tell him I’m looking for him.

squirrel standing up and dead leaf

And, then there are the youngsters, those young squirrels that I refer to as the “new kids on the block” – it’s not that these young squirrels have an attitude, but instead, they don’t associate me as a benefactor, a kindly soul who can tender peanuts to them.  They don’t understand that concept yet and they are very skittish.  If they are sniffing around on the perimeter path and I arrive, they run the other way.  They don’t recognize me and instead, scramble off  the trail to hightail it up the nearest tree ….

maybe

… or into a hidey hole where I can’t find them (or so they think).

hidey hole

If I toss out peanuts, they don’t even sniff them, but walk right on by.  Clearly they’ve failed “Acting Squirrelly 101” and, as much as I’d like to interact with them, I refuse to crack a peanut in my teeth and nibble on that redskin morsel to demonstrate to these young rascals how to enjoy a peanut.

Fox squirrels have litters twice a year, in March and July.  The March litter are helpless, dependent on their parents for nourishment, until approximately 3½ months old.  So this slew of youngsters are from the March litter and on their own basically.

So, how do I know them from their parents?  Why, by their tails … their bodies are very slender and their tails are long and skinny and they don’t flick those tails very much.

This morning I saw only the youngsters and they ran the other way when I sprinkled out a half-dozen peanuts onto the pathway.  Other walkers, who came upon me muttering “one day you’ll learn” as I walked away, told me I’d lost my touch.  Maybe so, or they are playing hard to get.

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Season’s Eatings.

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Summertime:  the weather is hot and the eatin’ is good.

Here in my part of town, if you’re going to splurge calorie-wise, or money wise to have a sweet frozen treat, the best place to go is Calder’s Dairy or Bob-Jo’s Frozen Custard Stand.  They are the local favorites and each place has been around for decades.  Thinking back … the only frozen sweet treat better than these two places, was sharing a grape popsicle with my best friend Linda Crosby while we sat in the two-ring wading pool back around 1960.  Yup, those were the best of times … you’d get one whole popsicle and have to break it evenly down the middle.  We’d be dripping popsicle juice into the wading pool and walking around with wide grape smiles until Mom washed off all the evidence.

Even more Summer delights are on the grill – burgers, hot dogs and ribs.  It’s a wonder we can fit into our clothes by Summer’s end, and that’s why we have to have plenty of fruits and veggies to balance our iced confection habits.

Today’s destination was a trip to beautiful Elizabeth Park followed by a short visit at the Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market

I left early to beat the heat because it was wicked hot once again (75 degrees and 89% humidity).  One more day of this sultry weather and we will have a short cool spell (thankfully).

I prefer trekking in Trenton’s Elizabeth Park on Sundays as there are less people, so the critters are usually more abundant.  On Saturdays there are kids with soccer practice and lots of parents watching them, so the parking spaces fill up fairly quickly.

As I said in one of my last trips to this venue, I vowed the next time I was here, that I would tote along some crusty bread to spread on the picnic table that is nestled in a woodsy area.  You may recall I watched a boule being broken up and placed onto the wooden table slats and the squirrels and birds just went crazy for it.  I had some errands yesterday, so was out and about and stopped at Meijer to buy a couple of fresh baguettes.

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I thought it was only fitting to get French bread since yesterday was Bastille Day, and, even though our eyes may be focused on world sports events like Wimbledon tennis and World cup soccer, with France’s victory, I think everyone has forgotten all about the Tour de France!

I parked the car and set out, first walking along the River on the Boardwalk, always a treat, especially on a hot and sticky day like today.

I didn’t discriminate and just bring bread; nope, I brought some oyster crackers for any ducks along the shoreline and peanuts for the squirrels.

But, either the ducks were lying low this morning, or the heat had them hunkered down somewhere cooler, as they were nowhere near the water.

I headed up the incline to the footbridge and saw a cute squirrel in the trees.  He was eyeing me very suspiciously as if I might reach in there and grab him.

SQUIRREL CHECKING ME OUT

What I did reach for was my Ziploc bag of peanuts, hoping to entice him out of the tree and onto the bridge area.

He studied my every  move.

SQUIRREL ON BRIDGE POST

Then finally, his eyes traveled along the bridge where he saw me place some peanuts.  I guess he figured I was trustworthy, because off he scampered along the top of the footbridge to get some treats.

SQUIRREL ALONG THE BRIDGE

I did one trip around the entire perimeter of Elizabeth Park, and it was shady in most places.  That sure was welcome.  I saw some squirrels and there were geese as well, so there were opportunities to tender some crackers and more peanuts.

I had broken up the baguettes at home.  The smell was just delightful as I was tearing them into bite-size chunks, so, I just had to sample a chunk of bread slathered with peanut butter to ensure it tasted okay for the critters.  It tasted fine (more than fine), so I hung the bag of bread, along with some oyster crackers and peanuts, onto my fanny pack for easy access.  I am sure I was listing to one side as I walked, but hey – I aim to please (plus I wanted to get a few pictures of the food fest).  I located the spot where some kind souls have set up a feeding station for the birds adjacent to a wooden picnic table.  Here the feathered and furry friends come to gather and munch down.

I emptied the contents of the bread bag on one side of the long table, plus put some on the ground.  The oyster crackers and peanuts were scattered at the opposite end of the picnic table.  It was time for me to hang out under the shady tree to watch what happened next.

I had a ten-minute wait before the first munchkin came a’callin’.

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Then the squirrels went to investigate the opposite end of the table.

SQUIRREL ON RIGHT SIDE OF TABLE

SQUIRRELS 2 ON RIGHT SIDE

I got my pictures taken, then had to move on to get some more steps in before heading out of the Park and to my next destination, the Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market.

FARMERS MARKET SANDWICH BOARD1

Our local Farmer’s Market is a weekly pop-up affair that is located on a busy corner here in Lincoln Park.  The vendors gather each Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., from May through October.  Here they set up tables to sell flowers by the flat or basket,  fruits and veggies fresh from their trees and/or fields and a variety of wares like candles, candy, honey, kettle corn and trail mix.  Something new this year was a catering service with steam tables offering hot food.  I usually try to stop at least once a year to visit.

These were some of the offerings:

STRAWBERRIES

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SQUASH BEANS BLUEBERRIES1

HAPPY HARVES WARES

HAPPY HARVEST WARES1

JAM AND JELLY

POUND CAKE1

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I perused and took photos, but didn’t buy anything and it was mighty hot by then and I had parked far away, so I hustled to the car, switched on the A/C and just relaxed a few minutes.

Suddenly it is Sunday evening as I’m writing this post after coordinating my photos – where the heck did the weekend go?

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Time is fleeting …

ALL OF THEM

Summer, which took so long to finally arrive, suddenly seems like it is zipping by.  Just like sand sifting through your toes at the beach, or funneling through an hourglass, it seems that after Independence Day has passed, the realization that we are slowly creeping toward Fall and Winter is evident.  Ever so subtly, the sun is rising later and going to bed earlier.  I’ve already heard mention of back-to-school sales!  I don’t know why we keep plowing through our life at such a hectic pace, but I really don’t like it.  Unfortunately, our brief respite of cooler weather has passed, leaving heat and humidity in its wake, so surely the steamy temps will slow our pace a little.

Today was Friday the 13th?  Did you bravely venture out?  Did you ensure you packed a rabbit’s foot or a good luck token, just in case some evil crossed your path?  Today was the second and last Friday the 13th for this year, the first having fallen on April 13th.  A little trivia for you:  today’s Friday the 13th fell exactly 13 weeks after April 13th.

Speaking of the number 13, it was one month ago today, the 13th of June, when I saw the large snapping turtle digging a hole to lay her eggs at Council Point Park.  I’ve researched when the baby turtles would emerge, and it will be 80-90 days from June 13th (September 1st – September 11th).  Each time I walk at the Park, I always glance over at that spot of dirt in the grass which covers those incubating turtle eggs.  Mama snapping turtle did a good job camouflaging that hole.  She smoothed it over before she walked away, her job done.  If I hadn’t watched her with fellow Park walkers that morning, I wouldn’t be any the wiser that all those turtle eggs are underground.

We’ve had so many extremely hot days since those turtle eggs were laid, and, each time I walk by, I think of still another miracle of nature, the hot sun baking the earth, all the while incubating those embryos until the day the “big hatch” happens.   I sure hope I’m on the perimeter path to witness those hatchlings emerging from their underground nursery, then making an uncharacteristic dash to the Ecorse Creek, approximately 20 feet away.

It seems like I’m always hurrying and scurrying around, and seldom indulging in the leisurely pace of a turtle.  I know that description fits me many days, especially if I have indulged in too much “me time” on weekends, then I’ll pay the price by scrambling around to get things done during the workweek.  There never seems to be enough time to just breathe.  But the weekend is upon us and Friday the 13th is almost over … the next one is September 2019!

Even the youngsters have way too much going on in their lives.  When I saw this artwork on a driveway enroute to the Park, I decided I must take some photos.  The chalk art drawings have been scarce this Summer; usually I’ve featured many chalk artists by mid-July.

For this pastel sidewalk art, I pondered on how to get the best angle to include all the drawings – it wasn’t easy!  This chalk artist really went to town!  The driveway was covered with drawings.  But, it was not until I got home and studied one of the cement driveway segments, that I noticed the words “Love You Little Sissy” and the piece of worn-down blue chalk near the flower outline.

LITTLE SISSY

Artwork frozen in time … so, what happened to the artist?  Did this little nipper run into the house for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich … or a nap, and just abandon the project?  Was he or she writing a tender note to a younger sister?  You’ll have to fill in the blanks because no family members were outside to ask.

So, … back to the topic of numbers.  I finally passed the 500-mile mark today.  I’ve trekked 503 miles so far this year, but I was two weeks late in achieving mileage over 500.  I had strived to reach 525 miles, or at least half of my ultimate goal, by June 30th but fell short of reaching those miles due to the endless rainy days, mostly weekends, we had in the Spring.  It is always my goal to have walked at least half of my final goal miles when the year is half over.

I had better get cracking!

For the time being, I am buoyed by my local meteorologist’s news.  He advised that the Climate Prediction Center says we’re in for a milder and drier Winter this year in the Great Lakes thanks to the prediction of an El Nino Winter.   You’ll get no complaints from me after hearing that news.

Onward and upward!

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Missed steps and a misstep?

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It was a beautiful and coolish morning, perfect for a walk, but my trek had to be cut short by an errand.  That errand was a trip to the eye doctor to pick up my glasses that had arrived almost two weeks ago, but their Robocaller had a hiccup, so I never got the message.  Finally I called on my own.  Anyway, I wanted to be there when their office opened, so I decided to get my steps in at nearby Memorial Park.  I walked enough laps around that Park to rack up almost three miles, not so impressive, but at least I got some steps in before heading home to get the car and drive to the eye doctor.

On my way home, however, near the end of my street, what I initially thought was a crumpled-up leaf, turned out to be a baby robin with its head under its wing and fast asleep.  This little guy was so small, especially with its head buried in its feathers.  I guess he sensed my presence because suddenly its head popped out from under a wing and he looked up at me.

I sure didn’t want to scare this robin chick and didn’t see any adult robins around.  I decided to take this little guy’s picture for today’s post.  I took my camera out of the case slowly, not wanting to make any sudden movements, but all the while talking softly to my little feathered friend.  In my most-soothing voice I said “sweetie, you really should have pulled over onto the grass to sleep because I might have stepped on you by accident!”

Well, he just looked up at me, a bewildered look on his face, and heart pounding a mile a minute.  I haven’t cropped this picture so you get an idea of his size.

little one

It might have been a coolish morning, but my heart melted a little when he continued looking up at me.  I zoomed in on him, taking a shot from the top and the side.  He tolerated my presence but still no parents came to his rescue, or to check me out, and that was worrisome to me.  A quick glance at the two nearby trees told me there were no nests that he might have tumbled out of – so where did this little fella come from?

I put away the camera, still cooing at this bundle of fluff, with the tufts on its head and speckled breast moving with each heartbeat.  Sadly, there was nothing I could do for him, yet I felt helpless just leaving him there on the sidewalk, shaking like a leaf.  I decided that Mother Nature, and his Mama, hopefully close by, would take care of him, so I left, but with some trepidation.

I went home, got the car and went to the eye doctor’s office.  I got there early and went to stand at the door to be first when they opened.  Then, I saw the sign “new office hours” … they are now closed on Wednesdays.  Great, just great.  Well that’s a first and I admit I was rather irked and stomped back to the car.

I decided my sudden “found time” would give me a chance to go back to Memorial Park and walk a few more laps.  I made a point to drive past the house where I saw the chick and saw Mama robin standing next to her baby.  I felt better witnessing this scenario.  While Mama robin is not a cat who can pick up her wayward kitten by the back of its neck and transport it to a safer place, she was still standing guard by her little one.   I put the car away and went back up the street to check them both out.

Mama Robin was hopping on the driveway, close enough to ensure I was not going to harm her chick, who surprisingly had moved about 15 feet from his original spot.  Even though Mama robin was nearby, so technically he was no waif, he still looked very small and scared.  I wanted to pick him up and wrap my hands around his trembling body, but I dared not.  He was a fledgling who likely make a misstep and tumbled out of the nest, or had a problem flying and lost his confidence.  He’d have fared better had his wings been bigger and his tail completely formed; you can see how short and stubby it is.

beating heart

I decided not to go walk at Memorial Park and instead turned around and headed back home, leaving him and Mama robin behind, tears misting my eyes, knowing I would not come back this way again.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  No,  I would not want to see his lifeless body on the sidewalk as Mama may not be able to protect him from all predators.

Suddenly my trivial frustrations seemed silly … it took this little chick to see the light though.

I hope he makes it safely back to the nest or a tree, away from danger, because it is a cruel world out there sometimes.

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Oh … those lucky ducks.

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Today was an escape to beautiful and historic Heritage Park, a venue which never disappoints.  I figured I’d trek around the track twice, after visiting the old village area to feed the ducks and take photos before it got busy.

The weatherman kept crowing that today was the last day of our trifecta of cooler days so “get out and enjoy it!”  I liked the three-day respite, even though I really didn’t think it was all that cool today.  In fact, the car registered 80 degrees outside around noon when I arrived home.  Cool to me is 60 degrees … just sayin’.

The historical portion of Heritage Park sure is pretty and peaceful.

you remember heritage park

My first stop was Coan Lake to offload oyster crackers, treat the ducks and get a photo op … all in one fell swoop.

coan lake.jpg

I was toting a new box of oyster crackers that I brought to feed the ducks (and the seagulls if the ducks were slow gobbling them up).  The last time I was here was for the 5K run/walk to benefit the local food pantry, and before that, I spent much of my time trying to get a few shots of the elusive barn swallows which were darting here, there and everywhere around the covered bridge.  Finally, you may recall, I discovered they had nests up in the rafters and each nest was filled with swallow chicks.  It was my lucky day that I looked up and saw the chicks and their parents!  (I confess I also was glad I looked up since there were multiple birds perched directly over my head just as I walked beneath them.)

As I neared Coan Lake, I broke open the oyster crackers to get ready to toss them to the ducks.  But what was this scene?  Another of the ducks’ benefactors had arrived just before me.  It seemed as if a feeding frenzy was already in progress, and that episode changed the course for today’s blog post.

I stood back and observed, camera in hand.

Just like the squirrels who come running over to greet me when I start walking on the perimeter path, ducks began to surround a gentleman, first paddling over to the water’s edge, then clambering onto land, or waddling over from the nearby grassy areas.  A few ducks even flew down from the sky.  There are many ducks at this Park, but they are usually scattered around the lake, never concentrated in one place.

I soon understood why this guy was a duck magnet.  He had a huge Ziploc bag of corn and was tossing it out onto the grass.

This was the scene I encountered just after I arrived.

toss number 1

After a few large handfuls of corn were scattered, the group began to multiply as more mallards joined the feeding frenzy.

toss number 3

By the time he was down to the bottom of the bag, the ground and nearby rocks were covered with ducks, their bills to the ground gulping down that corn.

toss number 4

I told this gentleman I might as well just hang onto my oyster crackers for next time.  He laughed and said the ducks know him.  He is there every morning because feeding the ducks just starts his day off right.  I told him I know all about that warm and fuzzy feeling and that is why I make my daily foray to Council Point Park and the occasional trips to other parks on weekends.  I, too, seek a nature fix and enjoy feeding my little buddies.

I said “so ducks like corn then – who knew?”  He said it was actually cracked corn, easy for ducks to eat and digest and it was a treat for them.  He said “if you leave your crackers and the seagulls don’t get ‘em, the ducks will have something to eat later when they get hungry.”

Based on this wisdom, I scattered the crackers on the lawn so my feathered friends could have a snack later.

Suddenly, he pointed to the wooden walk-out pier across Coan Lake …

walk out pier

… then told me the ducks are savvy, because in the afternoons people go on the walk-out pier with food, so naturally the ducks hang out over there after mid-day when there are more visitors at Heritage Park.

He also asked me if I noticed the ramp the Park installed in Coan Lake to make it easier for the ducks to get into the water.

he showed me the ramp

I’d never noticed it before and told him this, adding “these ducks have a ducky life don’t they?”

We chatted about the weather, and ducks, nature in general, then back to ducks again, while we watched the mallards munching on their treats.  By then, the group had finished all the cracked corn and had moved on to the oyster crackers (so they didn’t snub me after all).

We watched the mallards going up and down the ramp, sometimes at breakneck speed … coming down, they kind of slide into the water with a big plop.

slide1

Some ducks skip the slide, and just dive in headfirst.

testing the waters

It cools them off, but annoys the other ducks with the big splash.  Me too – I jumped back in a flash so the camera didn’t get wet.

big splash

Of course, then their ritual is to shake and flip their feathers, much to the chagrin of the other nearby mallards.

shake your feathers

Finally the treats were gone, so the ducks all headed into Coan Lake to cool off.  There were ducklings playing hide and go seek, turning upside down, tails in the air, momentarily disappearing, then popping up somewhere else while Mama Duck anxiously looked on.

Mama and ducklins

Meanwhile the temps were heating up quickly and I wished I could join those fine feathered friends in the cool water.  The fellow duck feeder and nature lover and I parted ways and I completed a spin around the village, then off to walk the pathway around the entire Heritage Park.

I got five miles of steps on the pedometer, and many miles of smiles as well.

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