Birds of a feather …

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I’ve decided the balance of this Summer, I won’t make weekend excursion plans in advance, since rain keeps intruding.  Even though we’ve been blessed with about four weekends in a row with no rain, what is problematic are the rainy days preceding the weekend.

We had two days of rain, and today, at 5:00 a.m., it was 70 degrees and 93% humidity, with a breeze barely worth mentioning.  We are still entrenched in those dreadful “Dog Days of Summer” until next Thursday, the 23rd.

So, in picking today’s Saturday morning excursion, I decided the planned wildflower walk at Lake Erie Metropark would be soggy after two days of rain, plus it would be buggy and muggy, since it is near a marshy area.

I’m itching to get to Hines Park since six miles of that park is closed to traffic from 9:00 to 3:30 every Saturday through the end of September, but this park is prone to flooding after any rain … no telling if that happened, since the traffic report was full of construction detours and warning about the burgeoning traffic jam for the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Heritage Park is still hosting the Junior League Baseball World Series.

So, I stuck with my tried-and-true, old standby, Council Point Park.

I’ve collected a few more pictures of Parker and his pals noshing on nuts and fully intended to share those photos for today’s post , but I’ve decided to crow about my goldfinch and heron sightings instead.

The rain left pools of water in the street as I made my way down to my favorite nature nook, and there was a huge puddle in the parking lot at the Park.

PUDDLE

The perimeter path was still damp from the trees shaking off their water droplets, or maybe from that oppressive humidity – whew!

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I chatted with a few walkers as we paused along the trail and we decided that this Summer definitely was a disappointment.  I think we need a redo, but of course it’s too late for that now.

Discovering the goldfinch was a delight because I’ve been looking for them all Summer and they’ve been elusive.  This one first peeked between the bushes at me.

GOLDFINCH FAR

I inched closer and might have had a better shot of him, but just then someone walked by and spooked him, so he flew away.

Likewise, the Great Blue Heron was spooked on two different occasions.  Perhaps it was ornery from the heat, or hadn’t caught any fish for breakfast, but both times it flew off, making a screeching noise like something was in hot pursuit of him.

HERON

I was happy to see a few mallards were back, even though they were paddling through the algae bloom that was in some portions of the Creek.  The picture looks almost as murky as the thick muck the ducks were swimming through.

DUCKS

I almost didn’t see them, as they made no sound, and they are still wearing their drab brown eclipse plumage, so I couldn’t tell the males from the females, unless they were a contingent of females who were headed to a kaffeeklatsch.  The group swam along noiselessly, which is so unlike them because they are usually a raucous bunch and their voices carry in the still of the morning.  I’ve really missed the ducks and geese as they add a little more character to the Park.

Lastly, I can’t forget to include these hawk pictures.  They are not great images, that much I know, because I shot blindly since I was in the middle of the second loop where there were few trees and the sun was right in my eyes.  They look like fly specks, but if you look closely, you’ll see how many there were.  I have been scanning the sky for predators at the Park ever since the Cooper’s Hawk swooped down on Stubby.  I won’t feed my peanut pals if a hawk is looming nearby.  There are never many squirrels in this part of the Park.

So, on one of my glances to the sky, I saw a collection of birds gliding around.  I suspect the three large ones were hawks, maybe juvenile bald eagles.  But, there were smaller, similarly shaped birds, with wide tails and a large wingspan, just gliding aimlessly while dipping in and out of the clouds.

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It was eerie and reminded me of an old black-and-white Western movie where a group of buzzards were circling overhead.  Finally, I reached the area where a row of pine trees stand, so I dipped behind one and at least got a couple of blurry shots of the bigger birds.

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This steam bath weather is for the birds, but at least it didn’t rain, and I added six more miles to my total walked in 2018.

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Vintage vignettes.

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I’ve been hunkered down in the house today.  It’s been raining off and on all day, but so far the storms have stayed at bay.  Because of the weather, I missed another walk this morning and tomorrow morning is looking a little iffy too.  It always rains here when my boss is on vacation, and that is where he is – in the Upper Peninsula for five days.  I am holding down the fort, and was left with plenty of work to do – I never seem to catch up these days.

I’ve had the news on in the background as I waded through that work.  I decided that Detroit made its mark on the national news for most of the day, pushing the latest presidential titters or Tweets aside, and, even the wildfires’ status is at the bottom of the news stream.  The haze from these wildfires has now reached Michigan and made our already-gray sky look hazier and grayer, although, as a result of the wildfires, we are promised some beautiful orangey-pink, and even magenta sunsets … that is, if the sun remembers to show up.  Practically speaking, what are a few hazy skies in our state, when people have lost their lives, homes and possessions, and wildlife and natural beauty have suffered as well?

All eyes are on Detroit today and I mused that usually Detroit, Michigan is well known for its crime, (just Google the 1967 Detroit riot), or renowned for the mischievousness that used to occur on Devil’s Night.  And, who can forget when the Tigers won the 1984 World Series and fans’ celebrations got way out of hand?

But, today the City of Detroit is darn proud of its moniker of “The Motor City” with the impending “Woodward Dream Cruise” and it also shines as people remember home-grown talent Aretha Franklin, who passed away from pancreatic cancer earlier today.  The airwaves have been chock full of tributes to the Queen of Soul, and I heard quite a few things I never knew before about this legend.  In the local news, as soon as Aretha Franklin’s death was announced, it bumped the Woodward Dream Cruise reporting to the bottom of the barrel of news stories for today.

You might recall back in June when I made a pit stop at Cruisin’ Downriver, the classic car cruise that passes through my city, I mentioned this event was just one of a parade of classic/vintage car cruises held by various localities all Summer, until the granddaddy of all cruises happens this weekend on Woodward Avenue.  Its website proclaims the “Woodward Dream Cruise” as the world’s biggest car cruise: http://www.woodwarddreamcruise.com/

It is only fitting that Woodward Avenue should host such a grand affair because this was the first paved street in the nation.  The cruisers have been out day and night since Monday, though they might have tucked their little gems away today while this rain has been pelting down.

When I was at the “Model A Rendezvous” last Saturday, I took some pictures of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.

You can see it parked behind this Model A.

in the background

When I was done checking out the 86-to-90-year-old cars, I meandered over to this one.  I especially like the hula girl and the sticker about White Castle burgers, a/k/a “sliders”.

side window hula

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Sometimes, I wish I’d been around for the fun 50s era to hang out with the likes of Richie Cunningham and his crowd from the “Happy Days” show.  Maybe I’d be Richie’s main squeeze with a bouncy ponytail and I’d don a poodle skirt, a blouse with an “L” on the lapel and saddle shoes.  It might have been more fun than my teen years, those turbulent times of the 60s and 70s.

Before the flood of Aretha tributes and reflections monopolized the news, there was some car trivia on WWJ this morning.  I learned that to be called a “classic” vehicle, it must be at least 25 years old; a “vintage” vehicle must  be 50 years old.

Well this Chevy Bel Air is beyond vintage.

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Speaking of old, and since it is Throwback Thursday, just for good measure, I threw in a couple of black-and-white photos of me posing with the family car back in the day.  Hmmm, I guess this girl could be labeled “vintage” too.

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P.S. – Detroit is also known for its Coney dogs, even if they don’t sell ‘em at Arnold’s Drive-In.

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Remembrances …

Marge sunrise

It was another sweltering morning, with heat and humidity to the hilt and temps which would soar to 90 degrees by late afternoon.  I did my walk early, but still felt my shirt sticking to me as I trudged home, tiny rivulets of sweat rolling down my face.  But, with over 400 more miles to meet my walking goal for 2018, I slogged on.

Anniversaries and angst.

On this morning’s newscast, they recalled the 15th anniversary of the big blackout on August 14, 2003.  The power grid went down, leaving 50 million customers in the U.S., from Ohio to the East Coast, and even in southern Canada, without electricity for a day or two.

I was still working on site in 2003.  My boss was on the first day of his annual week-long vacation in the Upper Peninsula.   In those days, the cellphone signal was not as strong, so he called me before crossing the Mackinac Bridge to inquire about any messages, because once over the Big Mac Bridge, he would need a landline to return those calls.  There were no messages so we hung up.

Mere moments later, I was processing mail at the postage meter and the machine made a whining noise and just died.  So did the lights in our suite.  While I am prepared for loss of power at home, with a cupboard filled with lanterns, a battery-operated radio, fan and blanket, plus extra batteries, I had none of those essentials in my desk at work.  (Hmmm – all that Brownie, Girl Scout and Pioneer Girls training was for naught.)  Plus, it was pitch dark in our office suite, because my boss has collected labor-related artwork and cartoons for decades; there is barely an empty space on his office walls that does not contain framed art, so he has always kept the blinds down to protect those items from sun damage.  My own office had no window.

Even though it is a small suite, and you might walk the same path every day, thus you should know your way in the dark, that is easier said than done.  I found some regular stamps for the mail, grabbed my tote bag from under my desk and left.  Happily, I was able to get out of the suite as I didn’t have to wait for the door mechanism to recognize my image to allow me to depart.  Sometimes in the past that was problematic as I am tall – the electronic eye sometimes trapped me in there and I’d walk back and forth a half-dozen times until I was able to open the door.  I wanted out, as in “to escape” … after all, who knew what was really going on?  Of course, my mind was racing as I jumped to conclusions – after all, 9/11 was only two years before, so an overtaxed electrical grid on a steamy hot August afternoon was the furthest thing from my mind.

Our building, Stroh River Place, has six floors and we regularly practiced emergency preparedness drills, and I was the contact person for our office, so I knew the evacuation plan and where to assemble in the street in the event of an emergency.  Our suite, located on the 5th floor, meant five flights of stairs to go down – were they double sets of stairs for each floor?  I don’t even remember now, and I’ve not been in the office since April of ’09.  But, yes, there was panic, as all the tenants grabbed their belongings and bolted, sweaty hands clinging to the stairwell railings as we collectively made our slow descent to ground level.  There was pandemonium in the street as we milled about, wondering what happened.

Smartphones sure weren’t commonplace in 2003, but thanks to the quick-thinking owner of Andrews on the Corner, a restaurant across from the building, we discovered what happened.  He got the scoop from running to his car and turning on the radio.  Low tech works well sometimes!  He grabbed a megaphone to tell the masses assembled in the street that a massive power outage had wiped out the electricity in some parts of the States and the extent of the damage was still not known.  We lost power at home too but luckily it returned late overnight.  At work we had no power restored for two days, and during this time, anyone with a pass to enter the Stroh River Place campus could access another tenant’s suite, since the power outage did not allow securing of same.  I had scheduled Friday as a vacation day anyway and since we had power at home, life went on as normal, but I’ll always remember August 14th as an angst-filled afternoon.

August 14th is memorable for me for a few more reasons.  For years, I always took a vacation day on August 14th, or a day close to it.  This calendar date was a day designated to celebrate a  “second birthday” for my mom and I.   This was because Mom’s birthday was on February 14th and, because it was not always easy to get into a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, or, often it was cold and snowy, so we just fast forwarded our birthday celebration exactly six months.  Sometimes we celebrated my April 14th birthday then as well, because snow occasionally impacted my birthday lunch or dinner.  So, whatever works for you … August 14th became a good excuse to enjoy a vacation day and break up the Summer with something pleasant like shopping, a movie and a nice dinner.  Since my mom’s death in 2010, August 14th does not pass me by without a pang of remembrance of the significance of the day, a bittersweet annual reminder of our tradition.

Sunrise, sunset.

Sadly, a year ago today I would add another memory to this calendar date.  My good friend and neighbor, Marge Aubin, passed away suddenly on August 14th.  She had been ill with advanced COPD for some time, but was scheduled to return home after a week-long stay in the hospital for breathing treatments.  I am including this link to the tribute post I wrote that day, since only a handful of people followed my blog back then.  https://lindaschaubblog.net/2017/08/14/last-sunrise/

My posts were often peppered with Marge’s name, as they should have, because, if not for her, I would not be writing this post today.  Marge encouraged me to start a blog to memorialize my daily walks after I’d e-mail or message her about things I saw while I was out walking.  She kept saying “blog about it!”  So, in February 2013, at her insistence, I started this blog.  Since August of 2013 I have been blogging at Patch.com and also still appear on Heritage Newspapers’ blog rolI.  I have Marge to thank for encouraging me to put my blog on those two places.  Her friendship to my mom and me encompassed many years.

Last August 14th I awoke and was thinking about the significance and poignancy of the day, but niggling in the back of my mind was the fact I’d never heard from Marge the day before when she was supposed to come home from the hospital.   I sent her several Facebook messages and got no response.  This was unusual as we’d often chatter on social media throughout the day.  She had been looking forward to sitting out on her deck and enjoying fresh air after being cooped up for a week due to her latest COPD flare-up, so I thought she was simply unplugged and enjoying the fresh air.  In the evening, I sent her my latest blog post, just as I usually did, so she could easily access it on her phone.  It was a post comparing my great grandmother’s lacy doilies to the Queen Anne’s lace I saw at the Park on my daily walks.  Marge loved posts about my family members from the past, so I knew she would have enjoyed this one.  What I did not know was she was dire straits health wise on the 13th, never returned home that day and passed away shortly after 5:00 a.m. on Monday, August 14th.

For today’s post, I am using another one of Marge’s Bishop Park sunrise photos she sent to me.   When she was feeling well, she went to this venue and watched the sun rise every morning.  This above photo was taken at Bishop Park on September 29, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.

I recently learned that no two sunsets are the same because clouds are like snowflakes … no two are alike.  I assume this is true for sunrises as well.  Beauty from nature surrounds us and we are wise to drink it all in for as long as we are able to do so.

Sunrises were Marge’s zen.  Everyone must have a zen … something that gets them through the day and through this thing we call life.  My zen is walking and immersing myself in nature – what is yours?

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On the waterfront.

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Before going to the vintage vehicle event, my early Saturday morning was spent strolling along the water’s edge.  Surprisingly, there was not much action at Bishop Park, likely because it was so hazy when I first arrived.

The walkers and runners might have been missing, but the fisherman were already up and at ‘em, some out on their boats, …

fishing in boat

… and others with poles gently resting against the fence that frames the boardwalk where fishing is permitted.  They silently sipped coffee, and, deep in thought, gazed out at the water.  Usually, early on weekend mornings, the fishermen line up along the pier that juts out into the Detroit River, as it is a primo point to fish from, but there was only one lone fisherman casting out while a young girl stood by his side.

casting out

I took their photo when they glanced toward me and shouted that I was waiting for their next big fish so I could take another photo.  The man said he was leaving soon because the fish just weren’t biting and other fisherman had already given up for the day.

Fishing is not allowed on some parts of the boardwalk as you see on this sign.

no fishing sign

I was hoping to get a few good seagull shots since the sometimes pesky gulls are always quick to show up if you try to feed the ducks.  This gull chose to rest on the railing and not go airborne, and originally had both feet planted on the top board.

seagull 2 feet

As I approached him, he decided to assume a stork-like pose for some reason.  I took a picture lest he decide to bolt for parts unknown.

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But, he stayed in that pose, motionless, for the longest time, never moving as much as a muscle, even though I kept getting closer and closer to him.

seagull on 1 foot

Soon, I stopped in my tracks when the first shell passed the pier and came into my view.

one shell

The Ecorse Rowing Club was practicing, so I decided to watch them.  The first shell went by and soon another hurried up and joined them.

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I discovered that the motor boat traveling alongside the pair of shells was not just another boater, but the coach, as he was loudly calling out instructions to each crew.  The shell’s large oars swept the water, carrying them forward rather quickly.

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Soon a third shell of rowers passed the fishing pier and another motorboat accompanied them.  I watched all three shells and their coaches as they faded into the distance.  I knew I had to make tracks as well to make it on time to the Model A Rendezvous, and I hoped the train was not passing through on the tracks as I drove home.

Just as I was ready to leave, the sky finally brightened, with just a hint of blue.  A whole mess of ducks suddenly streamed from under the boardwalk’s wooden railing, so out came the camera again.  The ducks looked peaceful as they paddled in the water and one duck looked a little raggedy after diving deep for his breakfast.

2 ducks

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I brought my A-game to today’s excursion.

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My morning agenda was to visit three parks, with the third being Youth Center Park here in the City.  It was also the site for an event entitled the “Model A Rendezvous” which was to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Henry Ford’s Model A vehicles.

First, I was at Bishop Park to walk the boardwalk and get some steps in, then stopped at Council Point Park for the sole purpose of seeking out Parker and giving him some peanuts, then I headed to the vintage car event … so, three parks by 9:45 a.m.

The long-awaited vintage vehicle event was originally scheduled for June 9th but cancelled due to rain.  Henry Ford’s Model A vehicles rolled off the assembly line between 1928 to 1932.  I wonder if there was as much fanfare back then as there was this past Wednesday when Ford Motor Company celebrated a milestone, as its ten millionth Mustang rolled off the assembly line at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant.  The paint job on this 2019 six-speed manual convertible, was the identical Wimbledon White as the first Mustang 64 years ago.  It was a big media event and Mustang automobiles from the last six decades gathered in the plant’s parking lot to form a 10,000,000 figure to commemorate the event.

I wanted to arrive early to beat the crowd to check out the cars and take some photos.  The weather was perfect, bright and sunny, though many of the vehicles were parked in the shade.  There were about fifteen Model A vehicles at this event when I arrived, but, as I was leaving a few more Model A cars and trucks were moseying into the event area.

I visited each of the vehicles on display.

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Many, if not all, were part of the Model A Restorers Club.

Model A Restorers Club

I paused the longest when I stopped to chat with two different owners of these fabulous vintage Model A vehicles, as they were kind enough to give me a history lesson, and let me check out the interior and exterior up close as they proudly showed off their vehicles.

The first person I spoke to was Greg, and he has owned this 1929 Model A car for five years.

Greg with car

It was gleaming black and I could see my reflection in the glossy paint job.  I especially liked these snazzy wheels.

Snazzy wheels

Greg showed me a few features for his car, including a specially made grille which helps protect the front of the car, and there were headlamps and small lights which he turned on, as well as tooting the horn, which sounded that tinny, high-pitched noise like you hear in the old movies.

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The front windshield was unique in that the glass tilted outward and Greg said it provides somewhat of a breeze on a hot day as the air will coming rushing in toward your feet when you’re clipping along.  As I was taking it all in, a youngster came by, saw the door open and asked if he could sit on the seat.  Greg accommodated him, saying “as long as you don’t drive the car away” … that got a few grins from the boy and a man standing nearby, most likely his father, who captured this “Kodak moment” on his cellphone as the little boy gripped the steering wheel and his face lit up with a big smile.

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I was going to check out more of Greg’s car, but a small crowd had gathered after the youngster took the wheel, so I ventured to the next car over.

Parked next to Greg was Lee, who owns this 1931 Model A pickup truck which he bought in 1961.

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He told me the first outing in it with his wife, the passenger door opened on its own and Linda said that was the last time she’d ride with him.  Neither of these gentlemen brought their wives to today’s event, and coincidentally both wives are named “Linda”.

Lee bought the vehicle “as is” and it has not been restored in any way as long as he has owned it, thus the paint job is a little dull, but imagine this … that paint job is 87 years old!  The top of the car is actually sheet metal and you can see how it is bolted together.  There is a narrow gap on the passenger side.  I said “maybe that is why Linda nearly fell out.”  He smiled.

The hood was raised up so the engine was visible and Lee told me you can see gas and oil traveling through when it is turned on.

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The pickup bed had a spare tire in it.  He showed me the tail lights, not part of the original equipment, but a necessity when traveling around in this vehicle – and he does travel around in it.  I asked if it is in a garage that is humidity controlled and he said it was not.  You can see the old Ford logo imprinted on the rear portion of the truck and his vanity plate as well.

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License Plate

Next, Lee opened the door so I could inspect inside the car.  Right away I noticed a bright-red fire extinguisher on the passenger side, and remarked that with everything black or dark colored, the bright red fire extinguisher looked out of place.  He said you must have one since the gas tank is in the front of the car.  Good point!!

The seats seemed smaller and I said “you couldn’t have long legs and travel a distance in here.”  I noticed there were no seat belts, so I asked if it wasn’t necessary to “buckle up” per the law.  He told me that if a vehicle did not come with standard equipment like seat belts or turn signals, then the law does not require you to have them.  He did confess that he might get seat belts one day though.  Since there are no turn signals, he uses arm gestures just like motorcyclists or bicyclists use.

I was fascinated with the front dashboard and instrument panel cluster … well, there were not many doodads there, so it was not cluttered, that’s for sure.  I bent in closer to see the odometer and speedometer and Lee said he thought it had about 73,000 miles on it (that is, if it had not already rolled over before he got the car).

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Next, he reached up and rapped on the inside part of the roof and said “notice how it is made of wood?  That is because the roof under the sheet metal is actually wood from a packing crate and up close on one of the boards, you can see the wood is stamped “Sears Roebuck & Company” on it.”

Lee plans to go to the vintage car event at The Henry Ford on September 8th and 9th and Greg told me I should check it out because you can find every type of old vehicle at that event and “you’d come home with even more pictures than you took today.”  So,  I checked it out and Greg is right – what a collection of vintage vehicles.  The link is here if you’d care to view it:  https://www.thehenryford.org/current-events/calendar/old-car-festival/

After I got home and uploaded these pictures I noticed Lee’s vintage Ford shirt he was wearing – how did I miss that while chatting with him?  I guess I was so engrossed in looking at the vehicles and learning their history, I didn’t notice.  Very cool Lee!

I took some photos of the other vehicles at this event, including close-ups of some of these features from cars of yesteryear.

Check out the rumble seat – maybe not your smoothest ride.

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This is a produce truck with its scale.

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How about this delivery truck?

My Land Delivery

This vehicle featured a wooden box which was open to display its roadside emergency kit, which included a bicycle pump.

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I also liked the fuzzy dice and a sign about “Henry’s Lady”.

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Henry's Lady

It was a fun event and I enjoyed myself.  As I headed home in my nine-year old car I glanced at the odometer with its whopping 5,254 miles on it.  I only got about four miles walked today, but it sure was fun to travel back in time.

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Back-to-school, bacon, and …

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… the Boys of Summer.

The Summer is zipping by far too quickly.  Between work, walking and writing (or trying to), lately I seem to be flying by the seat of my pants, and hopelessly behind in everything.  I am reminded of that quote by Lewis Carroll in the tale “Alice in Wonderland” … the hurrier I go, the behinder I get!”

Mother Nature continues to tweak the weather – yesterday was beautiful and breezy, this morning was buggy and muggy.

The ads nowadays are all about back-to-school, plus all the facts and figures on what it costs to get your child ready to hit the books once Labor Day is over.  This morning I heard a story about the new craze and must-have for school kids, and no, it is not the latest electronic device, but scented  pencils.  The most-popular pencils smell like bacon or donuts.  Hmmm – what if the student was so busy dreaming about bacon and donuts that he forgot to pay attention to what the teacher was saying?

When I was a young tyke, I remember graduating from the really wide pencil that we’d grip in our chubby fingers while practicing cursive, to a bright yellow and very slim #2 pencil.  Then we got older and thought we were pretty cool if we had one of those pens that had multi-colored ink in one barrel – at the click of a button you could have red, green or blue ink.  We were easily amused, but easy to please back then, weren’t we?

I know the term “Boys of Summer” usually refers to baseball, but I’ve not seen any baseball practice by the Little League teams at Council Point Park this year.  Perhaps they have another venue?  So, I’ve decided the new Boys of Summer are a local soccer team because those kids have been running and kicking their hearts out every morning at the Park.  They may be middle school, or even high school boys.  Their coach totes along a big net bag full of soccer balls in one hand, and the other hand holds hula hoops.  I’ve watched the coach place the hoops close together on the grass, then the boys take turns jumping back and forth between them – pretty fancy footwork by those Boys of Summer.  I’ve not heard anyone yell “goal” yet though.

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After the boys run all over the soccer field, their coach makes them run laps around the Park.  They often pass me up and last week I called out to them “future World Cup champs!”

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This morning along the perimeter path, I saw a goldfinch flitting between the trees.  I had my camera ready should he alight somewhere where I could take his picture.  The birdsong from this wee soul was just incredible.  He was so high up in one tree, but how those beautiful  notes carried all the way to ground level.  I tried to whistle back at him to lure him to a lower branch, but a noise startled this beautiful bird and he disappeared into the dense treetop.  That was the first goldfinch this Summer and they used to be more plentiful, especially perched on a thistle and enjoying its seeds.

The past two days at the Park, I’ve become accustomed to scanning the not-so-friendly skies, before handing out peanuts to any of my squirrel friends.  I am mindful that the Cooper’s hawk descended on Stubby out of nowhere.  His swift, stealth-like movements took me by surprise and I’m glad my little peanut pal escaped those sharp claws.

Last night, while catching up on Facebook and perusing the local crime sites, I was dismayed to discover there are many hawks in and around our city.  I live one mile away from Council Point Park, but this Park is right in the middle of the city and we are not rural at all.  For years, it was just a 27-acre wooded area close to the Ecorse Creek, and in1994 it gained amenities like a perimeter walking path, a pavilion area for picnics, a playground and separate fields for baseball and soccer.  On the Facebook crime site, Lincoln Park residents posted various pictures of hawks lurking around their backyard and told how the young hawks were learning hunting skills with mice, birds, bunnies and yes, … sadly, squirrels were among the victims.  That sure was a surprise to me.  You never know what is lurking out there when you are walking around.  I thought it was bad enough running into those near-invisible and sticky spider webs that often cross your path in late August.  They are spun overnight by gargantuan garden spiders which have grown fat feasting on everything that was caught in their gossamer traps.

Not only was I  pounding the pavement with five miles under my belt from my morning walk, but I also have been pounding the keyboard all day.  My boss completed the three-day hearing and I have been hunkered down working on a long, post-hearing Brief.  Today he was in Florida on another hearing, and  yes, that will yield follow-up work as well.  Both these hearings are the culmination of a flurry of documents and preparation the past few months.   My brain needs a breather so I was grateful to go to the Park and just BREATHE this morning and I look forward to going on a few jaunts this weekend as well.

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Shadow Dancing.

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It was a toss-up whether to call today’s post “Shadow Dancing” or “Parker, Patience and the Predator” (you know how I love alliteration).

My favorite furry friend, a/k/a Parker, has made a triumphant return to Council Point Park.  However, it is important to tell you that he is hanging out in the fringes of the Park these days, no doubt due to the fracas with the robin who attacked him a few weeks ago on the perimeter path.

After that, he went missing in action, perhaps even scared of his own shadow.

On our first, post-robin fracas encounter, Parker saw me rounding that last bend of Pagel Avenue, a street with a good share of twists and turns.  Oh, I saw him racing over toward me, and then he stopped short of the tips of my walking shoes.

PARKER IN SHADOW.jpg

While pulling the Ziploc bag of peanuts out of the mesh bag hooked onto my fanny pack, I bent over to greet him, asking “where’ve you been sweetie?”  He danced around at my feet, clearly happy to see me (or maybe the peanuts – I am a realist, after all).

I tossed out four peanuts near his front paws and he took two between his front teeth, then made a beeline across the street, before I even got a chance to whip the camera out of the case.  “Please watch  the cars and don’t bury those in someone’s lawn because they’ll get mad at me” I called out to him, then I continued on my journey to the Park.

The next day we went through a similar exercise, but this time he had stationed himself at the entrance of the Park.  Once again, I was fumbling with the peanuts and couldn’t access the camera, so it was a missed photo op as he scurried off again.

But last Friday morning I was a little smarter and hung the Ziploc bag off my fanny pack, so that I could use the camera and dole out peanuts with my left hand.

NEW POSITION FOR BAG.jpg

On that sultry August morning, there he was, at the parking lot entrance, just like a sentry guarding that corner, lest any other squirrels come to grab his cache of nuts.

He followed me and I shooed him away from the parking lot.  His eyes followed my every  move.  This time the camera was accessible and I was ready for him … or so I thought.  Our shadows made an interesting picture as you can see in the picture at the top of this post.

PARKER AND MESH BAG

With the camera in my right hand, I dug into the bag with my left hand, ready to drop the peanuts and get a shot of him up close, when he zipped over for a closer visit than I expected (and would have liked).  Patience was clearly not a virtue with Parker.  He gave me about two seconds, then inched closer, first with front paws on my shoe, then sitting on his haunches on my foot and putting his front paws with those sharp claws pressed onto the front of my bare leg.  I inched back a little, not wanting to make any sudden moves, and he backed off, so I raised the camera up again to catch him in another pose, but he would not be so easily deterred and started climbing up my leg again.  Obviously, there was no peanuts-for-posing bartering to be done, so I gave up and just fed him.

Once again he took a pair of peanuts “to go” while scurrying across the parking lot, over the curb …

PARKER - ONE FOR ME ONE FOR FRIEND

… and clear to the middle of the field.

PARKER LIKE A CHIPMUNK.jpg

Next thing a furry tail popped up in the air and he was busy burying his goodies.

Now, I know I am partial to Parker for his loyalty and his antics,  As squirrels go, I think he is pretty smart – savvy even.   He likely remembers the long, cold and snowy Winter of 2017-2018 and the crummy Spring, and just how many mornings that none of the walkers who regularly feed the squirrels made it down to the Park.  I remember those days as well Parker.  The walking paths were not cleared, so we depended on the sun to melt that asphalt so we can walk.  Parker is squirreling away every peanut he gets, preparing ahead, like a Boy Scout.

I’m just glad to have him back and greeting me on my morning jaunts to my favorite go-to nature spot.

It’s like old times again – once inside the Park, at least ten squirrels came running over to greet me.  I meandered along, doling out nuts and saying my “good mornings” to the other walkers and the squirrels as well.

I might be sharin’ the love with Parker and other furry friends, but not all of them unabashedly come running over for peanuts.  For example, I couldn’t coax this squirrel down from his tree because he was too busy enjoying his apple.  In the Park, a few apple trees are starting to bear fruit, tiny apples, just the right size for a pair of front paws.

UP IN A TREE.jpg

This squirrel was tucked up in this tree, happily noshing on an apple.   Look at the technique here – off comes the rosy red peel, faster than your mom could skin an apple when she was making an apple pie.

PEELING THE APPLE.jpg

Then he was chomping away at that apple – nope, he didn’t need no stinkin’ peanuts.

ENJOYING THIS APPLE

In fact, that squirrel chomping on its apple was reminiscent of an old black-and-white picture of me enjoying corn on the cob back in the day.

AAA CORN ON THE COB.jpg

As blissful and idyllic as this setting may seem, it was far from peaceful as my walk progressed.

When I finished the first loop, just as I neared the pavilion area, along came Stubby, flicking that shortened tail in the air and running toward me.  I walked to the side of the path and laid down four peanuts then started to walk away.  A woman, with a young boy by her side, was laughing as Stubby lunged for a peanut and she said “we were watching another squirrel following you back there – you didn’t see him and he finally caught up with you.”  Smiling, I told her that happens all the time.

Suddenly our conversation was interrupted by  a flash of brown and outstretched wings that appeared out of nowhere.  A predator had descended upon our peaceful Park.  The predator swooped down from the sky and was in pursuit of Stubby.  I gasped in horror.  In a split second Stubby took off as fast as his little legs could carry him.  He dived underneath one of the picnic tables in the pavilion.  Thwarted in his effort to snatch Stubby, the predator never missed a beat and turned its body around, and flapping those big wings, it went airborne, then flew to the chain-link fence, where he perched, his back toward me.

Hawk 08-08-18

The woman and I looked at each other – I said “I think it’s a hawk!”  I was going by its coloring.  I said “Thank goodness he didn’t get the squirrel; I’d have felt responsible for making that squirrel a sitting duck, but I want to take a picture of it.”

I was still a little shook up and managed to get one shot of it, albeit a little blurry, before it took off.  I walked back the way I came, looking for the predator, while wishing I could warn each and every squirrel to watch their collective backs.  Another walker saw me and he said “if you’re looking for the hawk, it flew over the Creek.”

I finished the entire first loop, for the second time, and passed by Stubby on my way out of the Park.  He was still near the pavilion, munching the rest of the peanuts I’d given him, looking none the worse for the wear.

I wish I could say the same for me.

Note:  Later I searched “hawk images” on All About Birds and found this predator – I believe it was a Cooper’s Hawk based on the black tip on its beak and the markings on its back:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Coopers_Hawk/id

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