Tuesday Musings.

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For years, my morning was not complete if I missed broadcaster Paul Harvey’s daily human interest feature called “The Rest of the Story”. Mr. Harvey’s unique delivery, and the content of those newsy and informational tidbits, made you stop and think sometimes.  After he passed away, my morning ritual was not the same.

So, I went up the AM radio dial and gravitated to WWJ-950.   At this CBS station, I discovered Charles Osgood’s “The Osgood File” which is a similar, thought-provoking feature which appears several times daily.  I always learn something from these short, witty and informative nuggets, some of which Mr. Osgood delivers in rhyme.

Yesterday, the teaser for “The Osgood Files” topic really piqued my interest. The subject would be the medical benefits of  getting outdoors, and enjoying nature, especially by walking in a park.  Mr. Osgood said that his doctor, as well as other medical practitioners, have a different type of prescription these days to reap physical and emotional benefits; the Rx is to head outside, discover nature, or go to a park to cure what ails you.

Here, have a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree: https://audioboom.com/posts/5848095-the-osgood-file-04-24-17-6-25-am?t=0

Mr. Osgood doesn’t have to convince me to go on a walk and commune with nature. I began a walking regimen in 2011 because my life had become way too sedentary since working from home, where my entire office area exists in my small kitchen.  So, I began to walk and escape the confines of the kitchen on a daily basis.  The following year I expanded my horizons, from the ‘hood to Council Point Park, where I could enjoy that nature nook and come home refreshed and ready to take on the day.

I know that discovering Council Point Park has changed my life. That escape from the neighborhood and into a natural habitat within a few short minutes of leaving home, is the perfect way to start my morning. The two-mile figure-eight walking loop takes me past a wooded area and up close to the Creek which runs the entire length of the Park.  It is more than just visiting with a few squirrels or dodging the ducks and geese who cross your path.  No, it is the feeling that you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life and infused your mind with nature, if only for the time it takes to walk the loops that cut through the 27 acres of land that the Park encompasses.

I was hooked after my first trip there, and soon began toting a camera, bread for the ducks and geese, and some peanuts for the squirrels.

The more I walked, the more I was inspired to share my experiences about walking, thus this blog was born in February 2013.

This morning, the sky was gray and the air was crisp when I set out for my daily excursion.

I opened the screen door and glanced across at my neighbor Marge’s gazebo where, suspended from the tallest horizontal bar, are multiple bird feeders. Within the past few days, feeders filled with niger thistle seed and sweet nectar have been added to the other feeders, in an effort to lure the goldfinches and hummingbirds.  Marge says that if the hummingbirds arrive this early, they will surely be wearing earmuffs.  But, who knows?  I saw a pair of Cabbage White butterflies flutter by just as I arrived home on Sunday and it was not that warm.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of yellow and black and watched a goldfinch dart over from the magnolia tree to hone in on those seeds, clinging to the thistle feeder as it rocked gently.

I saw no action in the wire mesh basket which houses the Mourning Dove’s nest that I wrote about earlier this month. The sole egg did not hatch on Good Friday as expected, but a baby dove did emerge last weekend, so the nest is crowded now and Mom sometimes sits lopsided on her offspring.  A wooden birdhouse blocks my vision as to the goings on in that nest, but Marge had a bird’s eye view of the baby which she shared with me.

04-25-17baby dove

My eyes strayed from this next-door bird haven and I hurried down the sidewalk to begin my walk.

Who can resist the urge to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature? In a four-season state, even with our mild Winter, but cold Spring, we all share the same exuberance when the magnolia blossoms pop, or the leaves unfurl, or those hardy perennials poke their heads through the semi-frozen and yet-untended soil … it’s all good, and just makes you glad to be alive.

Nature’s wonderments leave us in awe sometimes, and beckon us to retreat to a place where life is simpler, and, for me that go-to place is Council Point Park.

This morning, I was an early bird and the Park was peaceful, the sounds were plentiful, and not a single utterance came from a human. The frogs were up, already croaking in the Creek water, their deep voices resonating in the quiet morn.  The woodpeckers were drilling into the tall trees with staccato-like precision and the songbirds were trilling from their respective perches.  Even the squirrels chattered at me while scurrying along a tree branch or while playing tag as they raced up/down and around the tree trunks and across the dandelion-laden grassy areas.

Every time I think I’d be wise to pick up the pace and get more steps onto the pedometer in an effort to get five miles walked in under one hour, I find myself meandering, both in my mind, and with my feet. Like investigating the origin of a big splash … my head swivels around, and there I go, off that beaten path once again, usually with a passel of squirrels following close behind.

But that’s a good thing.

As to the squirrels, after all, I feed those furry critters enough peanuts that soon I will have the ability to claim them as dependents for tax purposes.

Council Point Park is my refuge, a place to bulk up the steps on the pedometer, pump up my heart, and, yes, even do some soul searching.

As to soul searching, I do it while I walk along, but the benches that are strategically placed along the pathway are a welcome respite to gaze into the sparkling water and dream of faraway places, take a load off your feet, or, your mind. It’s a perfect spot to do some serious soul searching.

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There is also sole searching. As you well know, if you throw a few peanuts on the ground by your feet, you’ll have squirrels galore rushing to greet you as you make your way around the perimeter path.  In their exuberance for peanuts, sometimes the squirrels will try climbing up to my ankles, using the soles of my walking shoes like a stepstool.  Whoa!  Stop!  I’m doling out the peanuts just as quickly as I can – geez.

Thus, you have sole searching … for peanuts that is.

The squirrels are needy and they sure know how to work a crowd.

Perhaps we humans are needy too – we need nature to soften our hearts and souls which have become quite hardened by the events of the day.

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Well, take a gander at that!

04-23-17

We were blessed with still another beautiful weekend day.

I left later than usual, thinking I’d wait on Mr. Sun to warm things up a bit, so my fingers didn’t freeze when removing the gloves to take some photos.

It seems to me, that in the last week as I’ve set out on my walk, I’ve worn at least four different coats, one seemingly for each season. A couple of the days there was no coat at all.  Such crazy weather!  This morning, the weatherman said it was 45 degrees, so I had layered up, even digging out the wool headband, (which always makes me look like I’m headed to the slopes), since I took the chenille knitted caps to the cleaners last week.

But, in short order, the layers starting coming off. First, the gloves and headband got stuffed into the coat’s patch pockets, then the coat itself was soon looped around my waist … all that, even before I reached the outskirts of Council Point Park.

The trail was packed with walkers, plus one young girl in a tee-shirt and capris on rollerblades. Hmmm, the younger set are more warm blooded is my guess.  The bright blue sky was absolutely devoid of clouds.  No hawks up there either … I’ve been scoping out the sky every time I’m there for more hawks to get a close-up shot.

I did, however, stumble upon this beautiful Canada Goose, standing still as a statue, taking a gander at the activity on a homeowner’s dock across the Creek.  The goose seemed fixated with whatever it saw, yet all I could see was a big white pail and a couple of kids. This goose was so focused, that it never even looked away as its brethren, a pair of noisy honkers, flew right overhead and made a significant splashdown, skidding along the top of the murky waters of the Ecorse Creek.

What was this goose watching, or was it merely woolgathering?

I stood still as a statue myself, right in my tracks, drawing the camera slowly out of the pouch so I wouldn’t scare that beautiful bird. I inched closer and took a few shots, and it never budged in the least, until finally bending that long and sleek black neck to the ground, to nibble at the ground cover which is already thriving.

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I finished my loops and arrived home far too quickly to go inside – how I wish we could just bottle up this beautiful day.

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Earth Day 2017.

04-22-17

Today was the 47th observance of Earth Day.

When I heard that little factoid announced this morning, I tried to recall if I might have observed that first day in some manner and just could not remember. But, after all, I was only a teenager at the time, and teens back in 1970 didn’t have many cares about how our earth fared.  Today’s teens are much more in tune with the state of Mother Earth than we ever were.  They sling lingo around like acid rain, energy, fossil fuel and ozone layers.  Did we know that gas tanks should not be filled, nor lawns mowed, on certain days known as “Ozone Action Days?”  I don’t think so.  Today’s kids know about wildlife and extinction, plus are knowledgeable about recycling, global warming and leaving a carbon footprint.

Perhaps these kids already know too much and are scared for how our world will look when they are older and ready to raise their own kids.

Speaking of footprints, carbon or otherwise, I made some of my own. Actually, they were wet splotches along the asphalt perimeter path at Council Point Park, because I strayed off that trail to feed some dried-up bread chunks to the ducks that were congregating near the cement precipice.  The contingent of mallards paddled right over amidst a cacophony of quacks and honks.  They gobbled those tidbits right up, which was lucky for them, since my shoes got soaking wet and covered in grass blades, having traipsed through the freshly mowed and dewy grass.  That first cutting of the season left a fresh smell and wheel tracks in the grass, but didn’t quite shear the tops of the dandelions off.  They were plentiful, probably already numbering in the thousands.

It was overcast when I first arrived at the Park. There were just two other walkers besides me.  Even the squirrels were tucked in their hidey holes.  But, as I progressed on my excursion, the sun came out and the sky brightened.  Dim rays of sun bathed the Park, warming me up enough to unsnap my jacket, even though it was just around 40 degrees.  The second go-around, the squirrels joined me, rushing over to my shoes and looking up at me with a pitiful and petulant pout … okay, it was more of an impatient and pleading look, as my fingers, clad in fuzzy gloves, struggled to get the Ziploc bag of peanuts opened before those squirrels tried to scale my leg.

The trees in the Park have all leafed out now, and, occasionally you’ll see a flowering memorial tree that sticks out like a sore thumb, albeit a pretty sore thumb, amongst the regular trees with their new, bright-green leaves. Of course, those few dead trees are still there, standing up tall, but not so proud, with their raggedy bark and grayish-looking branches.  The jagged trunk of the huge tree that snapped in two from the March 8th windstorm, remains as a solemn reminder of those wicked winds that day.  Its short and stubby trunk is positioned amongst the taller dead trees that tower above, and their bare branches cast long and dark shadows onto the path as I walk along, shutting my eyes to that area of the Park, but taking in the beauty of this little nature nook that is smack dab in the middle of our City.

[Image by Open Clip Art]

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Tuesday Musings.

Easter weekend was not a washout as ALL the weather folks predicted, so they get a collective slap on the hands for making some people cancel their outdoor plans in favor of a drier venue.

Sadly, I’ll just bet that many early morning Easter egg hunts were foregone, because who really wants to be running around the soggy grass, peeking under wet bushes, or peering behind dewy daffs and waterlogged tulips in search of Easter eggs?  Those eggs may have been beautifully colored and decorated with a loving touch at one time, but rain would likely have rendered those delicate shells a runny mess.

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I’ve written in the past about my grandmother, who followed the tradition of her mother, and, in anticipation of Easter, boiled several dozen eggs in a huge pot where she put in all the onion skins she had been saving from every Sunday’s pot roast dinner. She’d add those onion skins to the water and when the eggs were finally hard boiled, each egg would be a unique shade of brown … some darker than others, depending on how many skins were crowded in that part of the pot.  Nanny didn’t do any more decorating than that, so, yes … the eggs were colored, not beautifully – let’s just say they were functional.  We got a bag of eggs to take home and had egg salad for days afterward.

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The poor egg has been maligned the last decade or so. I clearly remember that sing-song commercial many years ago by the American Egg Board, “The Incredible-Edible Egg”, which touted the many benefits of eating eggs.

But, then people worried the egg yolks would raise their cholesterol levels and clog their arteries, so they began eating “Egg Beaters” or egg white omelets. Well, that’s no fun.  I cut down on eggs myself, based on all the dire news stories about them.  Now, just in the last week, the nutritionists say “go ahead and have the one egg a day, if you’re healthy – there are so many benefits to eating eggs.”  Sheesh – if you live long enough, you will hear the good and the bad for every food and beverage, so who do you listen to?

As for the eggs, maybe the revised nutrition benefits by the experts are valid after all … stay with me here. Last week, the oldest person in the world died.  She was a 117-year old woman who lived in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy.  She died in her armchair according to a caretaker who stopped by daily to check on her.

Her name was Emma Morano, and, she was the last known person to have been born in the 1800s. That claim to fame is because she was born on November 29, 1899, so, yes – she just squeaked into that century under the wire.  I listened to an excerpt of a radio interview that had taken place with a CBS newsman a few years before her death.  Of course, you know that one of his questions was “what do you attribute your longevity to?”  So, I listened to hear her secret to living a long life.  The response was that she had a raw egg daily.  Yuck!  So, that’s the secret to longevity?  So, the yolk’s on us that we non-believers either gave up or limited eating eggs after listening to the health experts.  While, I am not sure I want to be around at age 117, I must confess that I did buy more eggs than usual when I went to the grocery store yesterday.

Speaking of eggs, that sun looked like a big, bright-yellow yolk suspended in the sky when I returned from my walk this morning. Yesterday was a blah day which I spent running errands.  Though I hated to waste a perfectly beautiful walking day running errands and grocery shopping, I did manage to eke out three miles from those tasks, plus completing a few laps at Meijer while I was there, and, I put 17 miles on the car as well – woo hoo.  The car needed a long run, as it only gets the stops and starts in the City, and, with the I-75 detour, Fort Street is forever bottlenecked due to the extra heavy traffic.

Spring may finally have sprung and is here to stay, albeit today’s chilly start. My boss was out again this morning, so I went to the Park, camera and peanuts in tow, and escaped for a breath of nature.  Along the way, every single tree and flowering bush seemed to be on parade as I walked past.  At the Park, lots of squirrels were eager to see me – perhaps I should have bought animal crackers instead of two more bags of peanuts yesterday – today is National Animal Crackers Day … do you think the squirrels would have come running for them?  Maybe with a little dab of peanut butter – I know I would have.

[Image of multi-colored Easter egg by Geralt from Pixabay]

[Image of brown Easter eggs by Pezibear from Pixabay]

[Image of colorful Easter eggs by Alex_Fotos from Pixabay]

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Spring Sing.

04-15-17

Easter Saturday sure started out soggy and dreary looking, but things eventually perked up once the sun was out. By then, a little sun went a long way and I could not believe my ears when the weatherman said it got to 82 degrees.  Yikes!  I thought it was too hot – let us have Spring already, not rush us into July weather!  But, yes – it was nice of Mother Nature to come through for those who still had to buy last-minute items for the big holiday, and, for some who wanted to take a walk.  I just hope no one bought chocolate bunnies and left them in the car.

I knew it was going to be crummy this morning, so I slept in. That late start threw me off all day – what a creature of habit I have become.  After breakfast, I hopped on my computer to catch up with the news of the world, and, out of force of habit, I meandered over to the April the Giraffe web cam site.  I have visited that site two or three times a day since it was announced April would give birth in late February.  Well admittedly, the vet was a little off, because April finally gave birth this morning, and, wasn’t I lucky to be just checking out the site, when tiny hooves appeared, followed by a nose, ears, and, then one gigantic push by April and out popped the calf who plopped onto the sawdust-covered floor.

While Oliver, the anxious father, watched over his stall door, April was quick to inspect her still-dazed baby, and nuzzle it, and clean it with her long gray tongue. I thought I’d just stay put, my eyes trained on the stall, for a few more minutes, until the calf stood up, but, I found myself, along with over a million other viewers, (according to the tally on the corner of the web cam screen), waiting for the baby giraffe to spring to its feet and bond with its mother.  Slowly, April continued cleaning her offspring and nudged it to move, and it responded to her touch, wiggled its ears, but laid there, seemingly unable to transition to a standing position.  Several attempts had it landing back onto the floor, and, I am sure there were collective gasps by viewers (yes, I gasped or winced too) at each failed try.  But, finally the six-foot tall, 150-pound baby giraffe was triumphant, getting upright, on shaky legs, and soon toddled over to have some of Mom’s milk.

The miracle of life – there is nothing like it, especially when we could witness it before our own eyes.

Since returning to the site tonight, I have discovered the baby is a male, and baby and Mom have been checked over by Dr. Tim, the vet, and are in good shape. There will be a naming contest to be announced by the animal park.  Tonight, I watched the pair as they bonded, and, while the baby nursed, Oliver craned his long neck to not miss anything. I guess he is feeling a little out of the loop now.

Meanwhile, many miles from Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, the critters and the humans here in Southeast Michigan were enjoying this Easter Saturday.

The birds were joyful, singing their hearts out, like this Starling high in a flowering tree.

The walkers – well, they were joyful too, especially one man who always brings his transistor radio with him to the Park when he walks.   He knows all the words to the songs he sings to.  The gentleman has a song in his heart, and, is so overcome with joy when he sings aloud, that you cannot help but smile whenever he passes by.

The joy of nature and having a song in your heart – it’s a feeling that cannot be beat.

Be joyous for the holiday tomorrow – Happy Easter everyone.

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Long in the Tooth.

04-14-17

Well, there were two events marking this 14th day of April.

The first was that I turned 61 years old.

Well there, I went ahead and said it … 61 years old, and, I guess that wasn’t so bad after all. Actually, turning 60 was monumental and way more traumatic for me.  So, time to move on, and, like I told a former coworker when she turned 60 on the 4th of April, “now that we have reached that milestone, we will quietly mark the years going forward, but not celebrate ‘em.”  She agreed.

The second event was a trip to the dentist.

Actually, it was just a regular hygienist appointment and x-rays, with a quick peek at my choppers by Dr. Kelly. It was beautiful weather, so I could still salvage a walk and got a 2 ½ mile roundtrip done, then ran some errands, so all was not lost, plus no cavities or mischief going on inside my mouth, so that really made my day.

When Dr. Kelly walked into the room, he wished me a happy birthday, and, my response was “well thank you Dr. Kelly, but I guess another year older means I am getting long in the tooth.” “No Linda, not for a long time yet!” he laughed.  I probably beamed at his response because that affirmation raised my comfort level, since your teeth are good for about fifty years if you maintain them in primo condition, then the problems begin.  Your permanent teeth arrive by age twelve, and you spend the next 50 years grinding, chomping, biting, plus eating and drinking sugary stuff that doesn’t do those choppers any good either.

In conjunction with the upcoming Easter holiday, Trina, my hygienist, asked if I was a Peeps eater because they are bigtime sugar demons for teeth.  Well, nothing like a Debbie Downer just before the big Easter holiday, but, I told her I don’t do Peeps anymore, and she applauded that answer.

So, back to that expression of being “long in the tooth” which is a description you don’t hear about much in casual conversation, unless you are a horse trader and prone to peeling back a horse’s lips to check out his or her teeth. The more elongated that old nag’s teeth are, the older that horse is.  Sadly, that phenomenon happens to us humans too … as we age, our gums recede, gradually revealing more of the teeth, making them appear longer.

Hey, the tooth, er … truth, hurts sometimes!

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Nuttin’ Honey!

04-13-17

I’m on a roll this week for getting to Council Point Park for my morning walk and I’m pleased about that.

I hurried out the door since the weatherman said occasional rain was in today’s forecast. It is bad enough that rain and thunderstorms will spoil our Easter weekend mornings, but today too?  We’ve had enough rain in my humble opinion, but, it is April after all, and, we have to endure those April showers to get the beautiful May flowers.

The neighborhoods were quiet as I headed down to the Park, and, only a handful of cars whizzed by, so perhaps the Easter holiday has begun for some folks already. I took note of the construction barrels and piles of mud and gravel that were deposited yesterday on Pagel Street after I walked by on my way home.  Soon, they will resume the construction and sewer work halted last Fall, so no more walking that way as the street has been closed off and the heavy machinery and workers will be overtaking the area.  It was a big, muddy mess most of last Summer while the construction was ongoing.

As soon as I neared the parking lot at Council Point Park, I saw significantly fewer cars, no doubt due to the chilly and overcast morning, so I was not surprised by the presence of only a few of the regular walkers on the trail. The mom pushing the baby carriage was absent as well.  Believe it or not, in my journey on the perimeter path, there was not a single squirrel, duck, goose or swan.  Where did everybody go?  Guess, they, like the walkers, decided to hunker down and await the sun’s appearance before venturing out.  Thus, it was a nuttin’ honey kind of morn.

I was glad I dressed in warmer clothes today by adding a scarf and my polar fleece gloves – I’m such a wimp, but, hey … I like to be comfortable while walking. There was no need to drag out the camera since I saw no critter activity, and, besides, I’ve taken a slew of pictures over the past few days, like this one above.  Shortly after tossing out some peanuts on the trail, this little guy picked up a peanut and ran like the wind over to a log to eat his treat.  He was so cute, I couldn’t help but get a shot of this little honey noshin’ on a nut.

Once I left the perimeter path and began crossing the large parking lot to head home, I felt the first spritz of rain. It was sprinkling just as I arrived home.  Pretty good timing on my part, not that I’m made of sugar and would melt anytime soon.

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