Any port in a storm – whew!  #Wordless Wednesday  #The eagle up top means birds are welcome here, right??

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

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Stockpiling sunshine and vitamin D.

Here in Southeast Michigan the sun was not around much in March, nor April and the first week of May was nothing special either. I’m convinced the Groundhog doomed us, not only for the six-week period after his February 2nd prediction, but for early Spring. Grrr to that miserable rodent.

So finally, on Palm Sunday, April 10th, we had a glorious day, full of sunshine and even climbing to 60 degrees F (16 C) – yay! I aimed to savor the daylight hours. Even though I was bundled up to be comfy from the shoreline breezes, there still was a nip in the air, which made me think, despite the weather folks’ declaration that we had FINALLY turned a corner, that was not so.

The past few Spring/Summer seasons have often had crummy weather weekends resulting in rain-soaked shoreline parks. If that is the case this year, I’ll be marking my miles at Council Point Park where it never floods. I’ll probably resurrect my occasional “Seize the Day” impromptu jaunts to larger parks on favorable weather weekdays before my work day begins.

The first stop of Palm Sunday was at Council Point Park where I walked one mile to visit and feed the critters, then set out to give the car a 30-mile roundtrip run to Lake Erie Metropark. It was my first visit here this year, though I’ve had the 2022 pass since mid-November. In Spring 2021 I saw the beaver chews, a goose sitting high up on a nest in the marsh and her mate chasing off an interloping goose, all interesting to see and the images made for a picturesque post. Though the landscape was still dormant and blah, I was hopeful for a handful of interesting items to photograph today.

Lake Erie Metropark is located at the western shoreline of the Detroit River and Lake Erie and encompasses 1,607 acres and three miles of shoreline. Because this venue is so large, I generally alternate which part of the park I will visit. For example, I could begin at the Marshlands Museum, visit Luc the resident eagle, then trek down to the boat launch and along the Cherry Island Trail, or, clear on the other side of the park, an alternate trek would be to walk the rocky shoreline of Cove Point and visit the marina. Since we had a lot of rain that past week I decided on the latter.

Ambling along Cove Point.

The Cove Point stroll is always picturesque with Windsor’s wind farm just across the water and most times you’ll see a freighter or two on the horizon. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron or Great Egret in one of the many marshy areas. The last time I walked along Cove Point was July when I saw the fawn and its mom, which made that walk my favorite of 2021, if not all time.

The Park was not ready for primetime yet.

Park benches looked a bit forlorn and the picnic tables were still leaning against one another, like dominoes waiting to fall and, unless you had an intense hankering for a hotdog or burger on the grill, you would not want to be cooking them while standing in ankle-deep water. The hot coals cans were empty, all waiting for a sign of life to descend upon the park, i.e. warmer weather and more sunshine (yes, bring it on please).

Along the rocky shoreline

I recently published a post recapping a trip here on November 20th and this Metropark looked the same as last Fall, with long-dormant Phragmites and/or Cattails that had burst out of their brown sheaths.

The water was sparkling , but choppy and waves were racing up and over the boulders. I decided that the bright-blue and cloudless sky more than made up for the blah landscape.

Well, what do you know – a paddle of Canvasback Ducks were bobbing around in the water. This would be my third sighting in 2022 and the solo male Canvasback Duck never returned to Council Point Park after a week of very windy weather – perhaps he joined his brethren down at the Detroit River.

This fallen log was new since I was last here – bet it made quite the splash when it fell. That was Mother Nature’s doing as the beavers do their handiwork in more secluded parts of the marsh.

The ever-present Trenton Channel Power Plant stacks are seen in any Downriver shoreline stroll photos. This partially decommissioned plant is scheduled to close completely this year as energy provider DTE converts to natural gas and renewable energy plants. I wonder if they’ll remove those red-and-white-striped stacks that mar the view of the Detroit River shoreline parks?

A Swallow scoped out future housing. Should I tell him/her that volunteers built and erected many nesting boxes along Cove Point to entice BLUEBIRDS? Swallows prefer nests in rafters, like in the covered bridge at Heritage Park, or below wooden outlooks. He alighted just long enough for me to snap its picture, then it left again, so perhaps it read my mind.

I had my first freighter sighting of 2022.

Flooding has been a problem at this park since I began visiting here in 2018 and today was no different. Three instances where water crept onto the paved pathway had me dodging those puddles by veering onto the spongy grass, which was a bit muddy. This was one of those puddles.

Someone had thoughtfully packed a low area with pea gravel and, as my heavy-soled walking shoes crunched over it, I hoped it would keep my feet dry for the duration of the trek, as walking any distance in vinyl boots is not a great option.

Frustrated after traversing the third large puddle, I finally cut across the soggy grounds, interrupting the grazing geese and sleeping gulls and walked on the dry vehicle road instead.

I walked the shoreline until I reached a dead end at this Huron River Watershed sign.

The marina was eerily quiet with slips awaiting sailboats and pleasure crafts once boating season begins in earnest.

I decided to visit the overlook for a view of the Canada skyline. The high-powered telescope reminds me a little of fellow blogger Peggy’s hubby’s robot/shop vac!

Some bicyclists hopped off their bikes, took a pause for swigs of water, snacks and a slew of selfies.

An angler was dressed for the chilly temps. I didn’t see a big bucket for her booty of fish, so perhaps she was tossing them back into the water.

Signs are everywhere.

Some are pretty obvious, but as best I can tell, if you pay attention, you’ll escape unscathed.

Alas, once again I was peeping for Peepers.

Every Spring I search for Spring Peepers a/k/a Chorus Frogs. I’ve never been successful seeing or hearing them. They are cute frogs, about the size of a thumbnail, that sing their heart out in mating season, which for them is early Spring.

Well, I don’t know if the Peepers got lucky, but I got lucky while walking back from the marina and, in the muck and mire of this water-filled ditch, those Peepers made themselves known.

It was a delightful sound and though I stood there peering into the water for the longest time, I never peeped at a single Peeper. I took a few more shots of their mini bog/living quarters, but I suspect they submerged or ducked once they saw this looming human.

Not a spent leaf stirred, nor did the algae surface wiggle, but they were there. Next year perhaps they’ll put in an appearance but this year no pics unfortunately.

I neared the parking lot and saw my car, but it was such a gorgeous day, I wasn’t ready to drive home – not just yet. I headed toward the overlook – you can see it in the distance in the header image and here.

These shadows and reflections show you how sunny it was …

I took a blissful pause to enjoy a cacophony of sounds … those Peepers, a nearby Killdeer, a trilling Red-winged Blackbird and several screeching Seagulls

I was hopeful more waterfowl would be here. Well, there was one Great Blue Heron who saw me and freaked and if I spoke fluent heron, I’m sure it said “I was enjoying breakfast until YOU came along!”

Enroute to the parking lot I heard more Peepers at this area and traipsed through the high, dead grass to scope ‘em out, belatedly remembering it wasn’t too smart to do this in lieu of the abundance of ticks this year.

As I headed to the car, it was more of a shuffle, than the spring in my step that I had many hours before; I thought of my outside chores ahead. I arrived home and scurried out to do yardwork/Spring clean-up, before I changed my mind.

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Harry the Heron goes fishing. #Wordless Wednesday #Watch his technique.

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

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Mother’s Day 2022.

No matter the stage …

… or the age …

… a mother’s love is universal, human or otherwise. I’m sure we will all identify with this quote:

“The power of a mother’s love is greater than any force on earth.” – Anonymous

I was on baby watch in the month of April.

It all began with a trip to Heritage Park on Saturday, April 2nd. While walking around that park’s man-made pond, a/k/a Coan Lake, I discovered a Mama Goose sitting on a nest. nestled in the boulders near the covered bridge. I shared those photos in a Wordless Wednesday post entitled “Stone Age Goose”.

At the time I mused that this was not the comfiest of spots to be sitting for a month’s duration, but I recalled another Canada Goose sitting on a nest in the same location last year – perhaps the same Mama Goose?

My Easter eggs were a treat, but were neither chocolate nor cream-filled.

April 17th was Easter Sunday and I visited this venue again. I follow the Botanical Gardens on Facebook and they were touting their newly planted Spring flowers. I thought I’d take photos of those cheery Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips to contrast with any photos of the several inches of snow we were to receive the very next day.

Easter Sunday was very chilly and windy. Unbelievably I was the only one walking at this popular venue. I decided to check on Mama Goose and strolled over to her rocky perch. Imagine my surprise, not to mention my delight, to see Mama off the nest, stretching her legs and having a drink of water. She didn’t notice me as I stood under the covered bridge and evidently Papa Goose was not around.

I took a few shots of the nest from the bridge, then inched ever so slowly toward the unattended nest. Mama Goose saw me, but paid me no mind as she picked her way around the boulders. I could not believe the size of the eggs. I took my shots then slowly walked backward so I could continue watching the nest and Mama’s movements.

She approached the nest and began plucking at her downy feathers, letting them drift gently into and around the nest.

She bent down close to the nest – was she counting noses, er … future beaks?

After a few minutes, she plopped down and began her incubating duties anew.

I never did see Papa Goose – no telling where he was, but I was pleased to be able to get close to Mama and the nest and marveled at my good fortune in arriving at just the right time.

The next day, as predicted, we had a wintry mix bringing snow throughout Southeast Michigan. In my part of town, we received two inches of the white stuff. I worried about Mama – would she be okay?

Oh no – did Mama Goose just vamoose?

Friday morning, April 22nd was Earth Day and I made another 10-mile round trip visit to Heritage Park. I was dismayed to discover Mama and the nest had vanished from the boulders without a trace. I didn’t even see eggshells from where the hatchlings had emerged!

Quickly, I searched Coan Lake and the sloped grassy area around its perimeter. I took two tours of the historical area and didn’t see the little family. Past experience told me that the parents and their young goslings would not stray far from the water and seeing no sign of them was worrisome. I drove to Council Point Park to get in some more steps and feed the critters there, but in the back of my mind I worried about the welfare of this little goose family.

The next day, Saturday, April 23rd, was a volunteer clean-up event at Heritage Park, so I waited until Sunday to see if I could find the family.

Happily, everyone was present and accounted for – whew!

Well, there they were, lemon-yellow fuzzballs clustered around Mama, dining on dandelions and looking very sweet.

Here are my favorite shots from that day.

I especially liked this one of Mama watching over her brood – all you see is the shadow of her head and neck looming large.

I couldn’t resist and made another trip.

I returned again last Saturday, April 30th. It was a day as gray, gloomy, windy and cold as one could find in Spring. I had planned to go to Lake Erie Metropark but the gray day and impending rain stopped me from driving out to that venue. I was amazed to see how the goslings had grown in one week’s time. While happily taking way too many photos of them, I even got “the stare” and what could pass for a “mini hiss” from a couple of goslings. How quickly they learn to imitate their parents!

Although these photos below may not convey their newfound attitudes, are you able to tell how the goslings have grown?

While I was on baby watch, my blogging friend Barbara, was similarly chronicling the status of her Mama Goose who was sitting on a nest in Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, Connecticut. We compared notes and enjoyed the anticipation of the respective hatchlings and first glimpses of those goslings which brought many clicks of the shutter and smiles galore to each of us.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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We don’t talk anymore .… #Wordless Wednesday #The feathered version of Johnny and Amber

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

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Meandering around Fair Lane Estate – Part II

I have visited the Fair Lane Estate multiple times the past few years. While walking through the woodsy area of the Rouge Gateway Trail, if one stays on the Trail, then veers left, there is easy access to view and/or stroll Fair Lane’s extensive grounds. Ongoing renovations to the entire Estate began in 2014, but inside renovations were curtailed in 2020 due to the pandemic and have resumed with no stated date for completion.

Last Monday’s post focused on the grounds of the Estate, including the Manor; the Fords moved into their home in 1915 and lived there until their respective deaths in 1947 (Henry) and 1950 (Clara). You can click here if you missed that post.

Clara Ford loved flowers and the 17 acres of gardens which are part of the Ford Estate would be the envy of any gardener, both back in its heyday and even now. There are many perennial and wildflower gardens, plus a courtyard filled with roses … thousands of roses. In its heyday, Clara could stand at the copper-roofed Tea House and gaze upon 10,000 different rose bushes, some 350 rose varieties, which lined up along the perimeter of the courtyard and surround the courtyard’s fountain.

Although the many birdhouses at the Estate are long gone, at one time there were 500 large and rather ornate birdhouses placed around the grounds, on tall poles or hung from trees. That was Henry Ford’s doing, as he was an ornithophile (bird lover) and enjoyed watching his feathered friends.

The facts and figures about the gardens and birdhouse tell you why a contingent of 26 full-time gardeners were needed to maintain the property.

This post is going to focus on the passions of the Fords … Clara’s flowers and Henry’s birds. I visited the Persian Lilac walkway in May 2021 [click here if you missed that post] and returned mid-Summer 2021 to see the roses in bloom. They were exquisite. I am sure you will agree. I’ll bet they were even more beautiful during the 30 years the couple resided at Fair Lane Estate.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” ~Walter Hagen

The original garden featured tea roses, roses with a single bud, often prone to disease, but later all the roses were replaced with sturdier and disease-resistant shrub roses. Well I can identify with this swapping of roses as I did the same thing. My original rose gardens similarly were tea roses, but waiting forever for one bloom, then a rain or windstorm might scatter the petals was frustrating, so I replaced my original rose bushes with hardy Home Run Shrub Roses a few years later.

So come along through this wooden gate and take a look at Clara Ford’s rose garden. I wish I could create a panoramic view of the garden, but had to do various shots instead.

In 1930, Clara and Henry Ford visited England where they toured an old estate and admired the iron gate. Clara asked Henry if he thought the estate would sell it to them for her garden. Henry said he doubted they would part with it, so Clara forgot about the gate. Two weeks later when they returned from their trip abroad, Clara went out to check her gardens and discovered the same iron gate separating the perennial garden from her rose garden.

I found a few vintage photos and want to include them in this post. Unlike the photos that are featured around the Estate which were okay to photograph, I’m not about to tread on anyone’s toes regarding copyright issues, so I’ll include the links to three vintage photos from the Henry Ford Organization digital archives,in this post.

The first photo is Clara and Henry Ford standing at the above-mentioned gate and you can access it by clicking here.

The Tea House is located at the other end of the rose garden.

The life-sized bronze sculpture of Clara and Henry Ford was installed near the Tea House in 2018. The sculpture, which took 25 people and 18 months to complete was created by world-renowned Brooklyn-based StudioEIS and gifted to the Estate by Lynn Ford Alandt, the great-granddaughter of Henry and Clara. The life-sized bronze likenesses feature the couple with the Power House in the background. Henry Ford, at 5 feet 10 inches tall with a top hat in his right hand, rests his left hand on Clara’s lower back as she sits in her garden hat gazing toward her rose garden.

Clara was an avid gardener, so there were several gardens on the Estate,the most famous being the rose garden and English-style gardens, but back in the day her peony and rock gardens were also renowned as you see in these vintage pictures which I photographed at the Estate.

Henry Ford loved nature and wildlife.

Henry Ford, a brilliant inventor, had a soft spot in his heart for wildlife, which he said began when the four-year-old Henry watched, alongside his brother, as their parents pointed out a Sparrow’s nest containing four eggs in a fallen tree. This event fostered Henry’s life-long fascination with birds. Henry hired an artist to document many scenes revolving around his workshops, inventions and life at Fair Lane, so Henry commissioned this artist, Irvin Bacon, to recreate that fond scene in a painting for him.

Please click here to see the painting of young Henry Ford and his family circa 1867 from the Henry Ford Organization digital archives.

Fair Lane had over 500 birdhouses and an equal number of bird baths which were heated in the cold weather for his fine-feathered friends. Henry’s love of birds extended way past the grounds of Fair Lane as he used his influence to ensure passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, the first national legislation geared to protect migrating birds and prohibit poaching.

Also, in looking through the Henry Ford Organization digital archives, I discovered this photo of Henry with a telescope enjoying the many birds that lived on the Estate. Click here to view that photo.

Below is a quote about Henry’s vast collection of birds:

“About ten years ago we imported a great number of birds from abroad – yellow-hammers, chaffinches, green finches, red pales, twits, bullfinches, jays, linnets, larks – some five hundred of them. They stayed around for a while, but where they are now I do not know. I shall not import any more. Birds are entitled to live where they want to live.” – Henry Ford

After I published the first post last Monday, several of you asked if I saw any birds around the Estate and were surprised to learn I did not. I only saw bees and butterflies enjoying the many flowers. I didn’t see any of the birdhouses or birdbaths and I wonder if they will once again fill the grounds once the renovations are complete? Perhaps I’ll poke around and see if I can get an answer to that question. Currently, you must be a member/donor at this organization to learn the status of the ongoing renovations.

In visiting Fair Lane Estate and its grounds, plus wading through significant online history to complete these posts, I think that Fair Lane was more than simply another jewel acquired by the Fords. Can you really call a 56-room mansion and extensive grounds a “home” in the sense that you and I define a home? Well, perhaps on a much-grander scale, but I like that the Fords not only enjoyed the opulence of their home in a manner befitting an automobile magnate and his wife, but they also used Fair Lane to fuel their respective passions: Henry for his brilliant ideas and forward thinking more than a century ago and, because the Fords enjoyed nature, Henry had his birds and Clara had her flowers – most of all they had each other, a beautiful love story that lasted until Henry’s passing in 1947.

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Persian Lilacs and flagstone walkways at Fair Lane Estate. #Wordless Wednesday #I wish I could make this a “scratch and sniff” post!

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

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Meandering around Fair Lane Estate – Part I

Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn, Michigan was the home of Henry and Clara Ford from 1915 until Clara’s death in 1950; (Henry died three years earlier). This extensive venue is also referred to as the Clara and Henry Ford Estate and is one of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

Henry and Clara Ford built this 31,000-square-foot mansion as their dream home and it takes center stage in this 1,300- acre estate which overlooks the Rouge River. This is a popular tourist attraction, with its enviable gardens and interesting architecture and was the final home of the pioneer of Ford Motor Company, whom, as you likely already know, was one of the creators of the automobile. The entire Estate in its heyday consisted of a working farm, pony barn, private garage/laboratory, greenhouse/potting shed, hydro-electric powerhouse/dam and staff cottages. A huge staff was needed to maintain the grounds i.e. the many stone walkways, rose, wildflower and perennial gardens, in addition to the English country manor-style mansion with its indoor pool, skating house and bowling alley. Amazingly, there were 26 gardeners attending to the various gardens and walkways.

I’ve visited this venue in three seasons.

From 2019 to 2021 I visited the Estate multiple times in different seasons and amassed a lot of photos. I discarded those photos taken in the Summer of 2019, because Fair Lane, which has been undergoing extensive interior and exterior restoration efforts since 2014, had scaffolding surrounding the mansion which detracted from the architecture. So, I returned in the Spring of 2020 when the outside mansion restoration was compete and took almost-identical shots, just minus that ugly scaffolding. One day I will return to visit the interior, but the renovations, done in phases, are as yet incomplete, partly because of COVID. I have been dragging my heels on getting these Fair Lane posts done as I wanted to include some historical info along with the photos, all which took time, but I figured the posts are evergreen.

A little backstory about the Ford Estate.

It seems incredible that I never knew this place existed until a few years ago – no big deal right? Except that I passed Fair Lane twice a day as I drove along Evergreen Road going to and from Henry Ford Community College. I will even sheepishly admit that for two years I was on the staff of my alma mater’s college newspaper, The Ford Estate. Query: did I not once wonder about the origin of the newspaper’s name which moniker was chosen for the nearby Ford Estate? Hmm.

Yes, the Estate grounds were next to HFCC, but tucked away from Evergreen Road where I blitzed by in my Biscay Blue VW Super Beetle five days a week. I guess I was not too mindful of my surroundings, or had other things going on. I was carrying a full load of classes, working at the diner part-time during the school year, full-time in Summer and on all school breaks. I was not only on the staff of the newspaper, but also an active member of HFCC Student Government. I wouldn’t want to try that juggling act now, but in those days, youthful stamina and lots of coffee got ‘er done.

Flash forward some 40 plus years later

In 2019 I participated in the Mutt Strut, a 5K walk/run to raise money for a local animal shelter. The event route went along the Rouge River Gateway Trail and past the Henry and Clara Ford Estate. It was a gorgeous May day and the turnaround point was near the entrance to Fair Lane.

While passing the many flowering apple trees on the grounds, finally it clicked … the venue and the college newspaper’s name. Anyway, I liked that route and made a mental note to return to explore the Estate, which I did on a sunny Saturday afternoon in 2019. Before my return, I researched the venue online and knew there were renovations going on. This time I did not hike over to the Estate, but drove to Fair Lane and parked in an adjacent parking lot. I chitchatted for a half-hour with the guard before entering the grounds. She explained the extensive renovation to the Fords’ home prohibited interior access, but visitors were free to roam around the grounds. The interior renovation of Fair Lane is ongoing to this day and, when completed, will recreate artwork, window treatments, wooden floors and floor coverings in painstaking detail, all to ensure the 56-room Manor will one day look identical to when it was occupied by Clara and Henry Ford.

So, with all that history under my belt, I thanked her and prepared to explore. She called out to me “one more thing before you go dear – please be sure to return in the Spring when Clara’s lilac garden is in bloom – the smell and beauty will blow you away!” I thanked her and off I went to explore the grounds of Henry and Clara Fords’ Estate.

The first stop was Fair Lane Manor.

The Fords’ home took two years to build (1913 to 1915) and was the 15th and final residence of Henry and Clara. It was designed in part by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is made of neighboring Ohio’s Marblehead Quarry limestone and concrete. This massive undertaking began after the success of Ford’s Model T. I’ll focus on photos of the house, but there are adjoining buildings where Henry Ford had a laboratory and a retreat area where he discussed his ideas with fellow inventor/pal Thomas Edison. Edison was instrumental in designing the power plant in 1914, which harnessed power from the River and directed it to the home, laboratory and Clara’s greenhouse/potting shed.

Below are the back of the Manor and two shots of the power plant/garage.

Here is how it looked back in the day.

Tootling along the Rouge River.

The Estate is built on the Rouge River. The rear of the home faces the River and that residence, along with the current 17 acres of gardens and grounds are located high above this River which is prone to flooding.

Below you will see the churning Rouge River …

… and these old photos show how that power was harnessed for use in the power plant.

One can have a peaceful stroll along the Rouge River on some of the stone walkways and there were stone steps as well – you had to have good footing as the steps were steep and uneven and that flagstone path was a bit slippery. The Redbud trees were in bloom and it was a very picturesque sight.

You can see the steps and stones were a bit precarious for walking. Below you can read how Clara Ford had the horizontal stones placed to form Alpine gardens.

Here are more photos around the exterior of Fair Lane Manor.

I stopped at Clara’s Greenhouse and Potting Shed.

I could tell there will be a lot more refurbishing done to the greenhouse area. The trails that lead to the gardens near the greenhouse were fenced off with signs that read “no entry” – oh well, as mentioned above, I’ll return when the restoration is 100% completed .

The potting shed (right) was quaint looking and was more like a small house. I peered inside where a slicker hung on a hall tree and there were high boots and a collection of garden utensils, gloves and potting soil.

There were plants lined up along the walkway awaiting one of the many gardeners still on staff.

Clara Ford loved her gardens and in these vintage photos, you can see all the planning that went into them with master gardeners and renowned landscape designers.

At the guard’s suggestion, I did return to see Clara Ford’s Lilac Gardens and my next post, for Wordless Wednesday, will focus on her Persian Lilacs. Unfortunately, as you see below, some of the Lilacs were lost or pruned back due to disease.

Next Monday’s post, will feature a section of the Estate known as the Formal Rose Garden where Clara Ford could gaze upon her 10,000-plant rose garden. Now you know why there were 26 full-time gardeners on staff!

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Mother Nature’s mood swings. #Wordless Wednesday #Is Spring here or not? #Four seasons in one week!

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

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Easter Greetings 2022.

In a perfect world, the photo shoot for my Easter blog post would find me, Your Roving Reporter, tripping down the perimeter path, clutching onto a brightly colored, beribboned wicker basket and doling out treats to my furry and feathered friends along the way. It would be a picture-perfect morning, the sun high in the sky and a gentle breeze. The birds, all atwitter in the budding trees, would be awaiting seeds and peanuts, while an abundance of squirrels would be scampering over to gather near my feet, or under the Safe Haven Tree, to discover what Easter delights I had for them. Aah – it would be a scene reminiscent of Snow White and I’d return home with a treasure trove of shots to spin into a fun Easter post.

Alas, it is NOT a perfect world and Mother Nature repeatedly messed with me by intruding into my planned idyllic setting and weekend photo-taking project, so instead, I was forced to execute a Plan B i.e. a quick-n-dirty plop of naked-looking nuts onto a muddy surface beneath a still-bare Weeping Mulberry tree. Instead of any fanfare, I’d just take a few photos at the house and be done with it.

It was on one such gray and gloomy morn when I stood in the kitchen, having dumped a two-pound bag of walnuts into a rather blah-looking wicker basket. I took a photo, but instantly knew the brown walnuts, sitting in a brown basket wasn’t very photogenic.

I should have planned better I guess if I would be foregoing the annual whimsical Easter Day blog post. Truthfully, the squirrels wouldn’t give a whit about presentation – they’d bury or gobble up those walnuts and perhaps, if I was lucky, I’d come away with a half-dozen shots of them investigating the booty in the basket, or holding a walnut between their front paws. I mused that Parker likely would moan and groan about not seeing any peanuts and begin nosing around my feet, begging for a treat that better suited his fancy. I conceded that in the past when I decorated the Nutter Butter cookies to look like Easter eggs, they were a hit and I got some cute shots, even if I nearly lost the tip of my finger, after stabbing it with the scissors while wrangling the icing tube lid.

Perhaps a little decoration would add some pizzazz to the at-home shot, so I ran downstairs to my holiday supplies cabinet and returned a moment later. Well, that was a wee bit better. I took another photo.

Close encounters of the Easter Bunny kind.

As I stood there, lost in thought, suddenly I felt a presence behind me, hot breath stirring a tendril of hair that had escaped my messy bun. I whirled around and there he was, towering way above me, the tips of his furry ears grazing the kitchen ceiling. I was gobsmacked to have a face-to-face encounter with the Easter Bunny! “Quick Linda – take his picture!” I told myself.

In this moment of madness, I forgot my manners. After all, what does one say or do when confronted by the Easter Bunny? What I mean is, um … is there a protocol for such a meeting? Do I shake his hand, er … paw? How do I address him?

Confounded by the encounter, I admit all I did was stare at this imposing figure, clad only in a bright-yellow vest adorned with Easter eggs, his face seemingly a permanent expression of merriment. I heard a low chuckle, so whew – Mr. Bunny was merely amused and not insulted by my open mouth and dazed expression in that momentary lapse of good manners. I quickly righted that faux pas, regained my composure and hurriedly extended my hand and stammered “whoa – you startled me, but good morning Mr. Bunny – pleased to meet you.”

He responded in kind, offered his paw and uttered “great to see you again Linda” then added “please … I don’t go for all that formality calling me Mr. Bunny. I just go by “E” these days and that would be “E” for “Eggstra Special” – know what I mean jellybean?”

I nodded my head and decided I was not going to burst this bunny’s bubble and tell him the moniker “E” was usually associated with Elvis. This was not the time, nor place, to be splitting hairs, er … hares over it.

“Okay, well E it is then.”

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here Linda?”

“Why yes, the thought crossed my mind E, so do tell.”

E gestured toward the basket, waving a paw in a dismissive manner and said “Linda, I think you laid an egg with this Easter basket. It’s quite lame looking.”

I said I agreed with him, but as Easter was on the horizon, there was no time to prepare more goodies, so I promised that “next year I will do better!”

E told me he was going to work some magic and suggested I take some pictures as the squirrels’ Easter goodies morphed into something special. This sounded fun so I said “ready when you are E!”

“Watch closely Linda.” I watched the blah basket of walnuts morph into a festive basket of walnuts.

This looks much better doesn’t it?” he asked.

Impressed, I said “wait, what! How’d you do that E?”

“Magic Linda – I have magical powers. I’m here with you in the kitchen, right? You didn’t let me in the house did you? I can be all over the world at one time, delivering Easter goodies to all the children, like Santa. Only for my gig, it’s not like I have a slew of elves helping me. I do it all myself. Just me – E. So, I can do even more with these walnuts if you’d like me to Linda.”

“Um – yes, of course Mr. Bunny, I mean E” I babbled.

“Well, I’m going to wave my hand and use a little magic dust and turn these wrinkled walnuts into pretty Easter eggs and add a festive flair to this basket while I’m at it. I know you are dubious – you may even think this is some hare-brained idea, but ….” A few flourishes of a paw and he stepped back to admire his handiwork, then asked “now what do you think Linda?”

I gushed and told him “great – I love it E! The squirrels will be soooooo delighted, except for Parker as he’ll bug me for some peanuts, regardless of how nice these walnut eggs are.”

“Oh, YOU are not going to be giving this basket of goodies to your little furry friends Linda – that’s MY job and I won’t have it any other way.”

“Oh – okay, got it E.” I’m sure my crestfallen face was evident, so in a timid voice I hinted “boy I wish I could see their faces E.”

“I’ll send you some pictures if you’d like Linda – no worries. I have my own website, including a bunch of photos I scammed from your blog about the City’s Easter Egg Hunt a few years ago and I have an e-mail address, so look for a message from me okay?”

Hmm – interesting. I let that comment about those scammed photos slide, then inquired politely “so, will you be hopping down the bunny trail to give out these magical eggs to my furry friends E?” I could feel a blog post narrative was already bubbling around in my brain.

“Oh no Linda – that’s the OTHER bunny who does the hopping down the trail – Peter Cottontail. Believe me, he’s no Hunny Bunny!” I detected E’s agitation and quickly sought to change the subject, to no avail because before he continued, he shook a paw at me and said“clearly Linda, you have your rabbits reversed. That is Peter Cottontail’s gig and if he catches me, bopping or hopping down the trail, he’ll sue me for infringing on his trademark event. He shows up everywhere I show up, lurking about, checking me out. One Easter, I was feeling pretty spry, forgot myself and started hopping down a path and he caught me. As you can see, he sued the pants off of me. Yep, Ol’ Peter is a lurker. I will give these pretty eggs to your squirrelly friends and take pictures of them from behind a tree. I always have my smartphone on me, tucked into my vest.”

Wow, what a lot of info to mull over.  I told E “I will go to another park this morning so I don’t interfere, okay?”

“Good idea and Linda, I’ve left you an Easter treat as well, but I know you’ll wait until after Lent to enjoy it.”

“What treat – where E?” I asked.

He told me to turn around, which I did and found this.

“How did you know I eat dark chocolate E?” I inquired.

He bent down close and one ear flopped sideways giving him an even more comical look and, in a low voice, he said “I know more than you think, so fess up Linda – do you nibble on the ears or the butt of your chocolate rabbit first?”

“The ears first E always!” I replied with a giggle.

“Ouch!!!  Linda, you have my heart!” Then poof … he vanished into thin air. 

I shook my head as if to clear my brain of cobwebs as I wondered aloud “did I imagine this conversation?”  Nope, the basket of walnuts was gone with a chocolate bunny in its stead.  I put on my coat and hat and headed out shortly thereafter to clear my head – they were good thoughts, but confusing thoughts nonetheless.

When I was online later, I ventured over to E’s website.  It was interesting. (And yes those were my photos from my April 9, 2017 post.)

And then I checked my e-mail – sure enough, as promised, there was a zip file from E.

There were photos of my furry friends posing with their Easter eggs.

E even included a picture of Peter Cottontail lurking in the corner. Whatta guy!!!

Hope this post brought some cheer for your Easter Sunday. For a little more merriment, please click here.

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