What keeps me going is goals. –Muhammad Ali #Wordless Wednesday #Me too!

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

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It was a fairy nice walk.

As promised, today’s post is about a stop at Oakwoods Metropark, the second leg of my July 2nd round robin of the trio of parks along the Huron River.

As to my quest for adventure, you’ll recall that Willow Metropark was a bit blah, but this venue, Oakwoods Metropark, helped make up for the dried-up Washago Pond, just missing that fawn photo op and my abysmal attempts at capturing the outside art collection.

Admittedly, the saying goes“you can’t win ‘em all” and this was before my bevy of birdie encounters later in the Summer and Fall of 2022.

Little did I know I was about to find a pair of Chipmunks, my only new furry discovery last year, (although there was a sleeping Raccoon at Council Point Park two days in a row, but I didn’t see its face or tail).

It was almost mid-day as I walked from the parking lot along the pathway toward the Nature Center.

I passed the bark hut and stopped to take photos of it and the materials used in its construction.

The Nature Center was a hopping spot on my agenda.

Passing beneath a canopy of trees, I was immediately grateful for the shade. As I neared the Nature Center I heard the murmur of voices and saw there was a hubbub of activity. I assumed the interpretive classes had resumed since COVID shut them down. I ambled over, camera at the ready, to scope it out.

There are two large avian outdoor enclosures where Radar, the Great Horned Owl and Hawkeye, the Red-Tailed Hawk live. Both of these raptors are not releasable as they have sustained injuries rendering them unable to live on their own.

Radar, the Great Horned Owl.

Radar has been at the Nature Center since 2015 and is a permanent resident there after sustaining a closed-head injury while hunting for prey. He was swooping near the ground and was struck by a car. Radar is usually found perching in the back portion of his enclosure where it is darker.

I moved closer to the owl enclosure where I saw a young man attempting to grab Radar and wrap him in a towel or blanket. Radar struggled, talons outstretched, wings flapping and finally he was flat on his back.

I recognized Paula, the Oakwoods interpretive guide who conducted the “Walk, Talk and Sketch” class I took back in August 2019, so I nabbed her as she was entering Radar’s enclosure to ask if he was okay. She gave me a reassuring smile and said “no worries – it’s vet day today, so Radar and Hawkeye are each getting a routine check-up.”

Well this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to Radar, because as mentioned, he usually perches at the back of his enclosure in the dark. Photos I’ve taken in the past just show Radar’s penetrating stare, a pair of golden, glow-in-the-dark, non-blinking eyes. I always feel like I’m intruding into Radar’s personal space, so I move along.

The vet finished up a brief exam and Radar was gently placed on his perch. The unblinking eyes did not speak of any fear or anger at his capture, but, since this owl sat in stoic silence post-ordeal, I managed to get a half-decent photo.

I didn’t include Radar on my list of 2022 bird discoveries as the owl was not out in a natural environment.

Hawkeye, the Red-Tailed Hawk.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings for the good doctor’s visit was Hawkeye.

The sign near Hawkeye’s enclosure tells visitors he has been at the Nature Center since 2008. He was found at Lower Huron Metropark and it is believed he was raised in a cage, which permanently damaged his ability to grow all his primary flight feathers on his left wing. Although Hawkeye can fly, he is unable to fly well enough to hunt for food. He’s very active and vocal when visitors approach his enclosure.

Well this is a scowl if I’ve ever seen one – do you agree?

Hawkeye had no doubt sensed the vet vibes, courtesy of Radar’s occasional hootin’ and hollerin’, so his angst was building. Note in the above and below photos how Hawkeye’s beak is open, as he was hyperventilating, a sure sign of agitation for domestic and wild birds. I saw my pet birds do that when the vet made a move to grab them, sometimes even in the waiting room before the visit.

Once the vet entered the enclosure, Hawkeye flew from his perch and around the enclosure to thwart him. He may have issues that limit his flying prowess, but he sure was on the move here.

I decided to move along as it seemed the vet was growing a little weary as he would attempt a capture and Hawkeye flew away again.

The Nature Center was chock-full of photo ops today.

I didn’t go inside the Center, where there is a turtle tank, butterfly habitat and historical items native to this region. Behind the building were multiple bird feeders and houses. The seed feeders were empty. During my interpretative walk back in 2019, we learned the feeders are left empty in Spring through early Fall when birds can forage on their own, but the Nature Center caters to their avian friends when the cold sets in.

There were several hummingbird feeders and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovering over, then dipping its beak into the nectar. Hope, the only hummingbird that stops at my two feeders, is likely to eat and run, leaving no photo ops for me. So, I got a few shots against the Center’s streaked window.

Then I met my first Chippies.

Yes, I had gone 66 years without seeing a Chipmunk – how can that be? But it wasn’t the pair of Chipmunks scurrying in and out of an opening under a concrete slab that caught my eye. I was marveling just how much fluorescent yellow caution tape was wrapped around this small wooden overlook. I hurried over to look for a sign why this wooden deck, with a good view of the Huron River, was now off limits.

Here was how it looked in 2019 when we assembled on the overlook in our sketching class.

And here is how it looked now, complete with a Chipmunk guarding the entrance.

Since I had the camera focused on the overlook anyway, I was able to get a few shots of the Chippies. It would have been nice if they posed side-by-side and I could have titled this post “Chip ‘n Dale” but nope, they each stuck their noggins out from their hidey-hole, but didn’t both venture out simultaneously.

Before I could get any closer to see if there was a sign explaining what happened, a booming voice said: “don’t take one more step – it is dangerous to get too close, whew, I thought I was the only nature lover that was crazy enough to walk in the heat of the day in this here woods, pleased to meet you ma’am – I’m Billy.” The words all tumbled out in one long sentence. I took a moment to process that info and said “nice to meet you Billy, I’m Linda. So what happened here?”

Billy said he walks here daily and explained that the wooden overlook began listing to the left and the earth beneath it was apparently unstable and crumbling. They have closed it until they can stabilize where the overlook juts out. I told him about Washago Pond and he tsk-tsked but said he only visits this venue.

Billy then relayed his Easter morning visit: “I was here on Easter Sunday morning, worshiping what God had created, instead of being within the confines of church. I was here very, very early – not a single soul, just me and I heard a noise and saw a doe – what a moment! A little later I saw a huge coyote and a wild turkey.” He finished his story by saying “you don’t get mornings like that often.” I said “I agree and I hope the doe was safe from that big coyote?” He said he didn’t know and like me, hoped it was okay.

I was surprised to hear of any wildlife at this park and asked “you mean right here on one of the named trails?” “Yep” he answered. Hmm – I wondered why I never have critter encounters here unless you want to count a fuzzy white Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar and the guide said “don’t touch it – you’ll get sticky fibers embedded in your fingers!”

Perhaps I need new glasses?

Billy and I chatted about the weather and I said “I’d best be movin’ on as I’m going to Lower Huron Metropark after here.”

Now it was time for a walk in the woods.

The woods is not very dense at this park and the past few times it’s been a haven for mosquitoes. In this 35-minute walk they got me twice. I usually walk on the path which gives me a view of the Huron River, then there are multiple trails to veer off for, none of them very long.

As I embarked on the woodsy trail I saw this quaint little facade of a fairy cottage high up on this tree. I zoomed in – that is the photo you see up top.

I took two trails, swiveling my head this way and that to ensure I didn’t miss anything … there was really nothing to see this time of the day.

As I headed to the car I aimed for one last nature shot, a pretty blue dragonfly that dazzled in the sunlight and kept evading me as if to say “na, na, na – catch me if you can!”

I thought I’d stop at the Butterfly Viewing Nature Trail which is an area of this park with an abundance of flowers, so many that it has been certified as an official Monarch Butterfly Waystation by the organization Monarch Watch. “I’ll stop there first next time” I told myself as the car’s A/C felt way too good and I didn’t want to get sidetracked for my third and final park venue, Lower Huron Metropark, the topic of next week’s post.

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Monarchs are in Mexico sipping margaritas ‘til March.  #Wordless Wednesday  #Monarch Butterfly sipping nectar at the Goodwill Garden at Heritage Park.

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature | Tagged , , , , , | 55 Comments

“I like adventures and I’m going to find some.”

As I stepped out the door, I did my best to channel Little Women author, Louisa May Alcott, who once declared: “I like adventures and I’m going to find some.”

I set out to tackle three Metroparks in one day. That may sound like a daunting task, but, as you can see by the map above, the parks are located fairly close together and I had already accomplished a similar Parksapalooza feat back in 2020 and survived. Besides, I would rest up a little while driving to each successive venue.

My first stop on Saturday, July 2, 2022, Willow Metropark, is the topic for today’s post.

It was forecast to be a hot-and-sticky holiday weekend, with potentially severe storms to cap off the 4th of July and kick the heat and humidity down a notch or two, (of course … when we all went back to work). Just moments after I parked the car, a bead of sweat rolled down my face simultaneously with seeing this sign about sledding – well no chance of sledding today!

This venue is not far from Detroit Metro Airport and a steady stream of airplanes interrupted the stillness of the morning. Here is one of many planes whisking passengers to their respective destinations for the three-day weekend.

I had two primary reasons for visiting Willow Metropark today – to visit the dilapidated Washago Pond and to see the Detroit Institute of Arts “Inside/Out” collection of reproductions that were on display at this venue. I had already visited the DIA collection of five reproductions in my City, earlier in the month.

What happened to Washago Pond?

The first and only time I had visited 1,531-acre Willow Metropark was after fellow walker Arnie urged me to visit. He enjoyed riding his bike on the 15-mile bike trail connecting this trio of Metroparks. Arnie, who was in his early 80s at the time, told me his favorite spot of the three venues was Willow Metropark’s Washago Pond. If you’re really adventurous and have a comfy bicycle seat, you can opt for the 49-mile round trip that includes Lake Erie Metropark, my favorite Metropark.

At Arnie’s insistence, I decided to visit.

These photos from my 2020 post show this Park’s jewel, a scenic 17-acre pond, an idyllic setting, just perfect for a lazy Sunday ride on a paddleboat …

… or a leisurely afternoon of fishing.

But, fast forward to May 2021 when a pipe beneath the water, part of the control structure of the pond, developed a leak, causing it to drain through the Regan Drain to the Huron River. The water level in Washago Pond had receded noticeably by the morning of May 19th. Imagine the stunned faces of Willow Park workers when they came into work that morning and instead of paddleboats bobbing gently in the water while moored in their wooden slips, they were resting on the Pond’s sandy bottom. Two days later, the pond was almost completely dry, having gone from a stellar view and fun way to while away a few hours to a vast wasteland.

This is how Washago Pond looked just one year later at this visit. A sign explained the misfortune.

Any water in the Pond was just from recent rains.

You know how your garden and yard weeds multiply if you don’t tend to them regularly?

I follow the Metroparks on Twitter, plus get an e-mail of news and events at the 13 Metropark venues, but had not read any updates on Washago Pond recently. Clearly, from the looks of things, they had not yet started any repairs. I saw a Metropark worker in a golf cart whizzing around and waited for him to near me, then waved him down to ask the status. (Yes, Your Roving Reporter, must stick her nose in the newsy updates of all her walking venues.) I was surprised to learn that Washago Pond’s underwater structure was beyond repair, so they were going to just let grass grow over it permanently. Wow – I decided to cross this venue off my list unless I ever use the bike trail, as there is really not much else to see here. But wait ….

Hmm – a sweet fawn and I walked right past it?!

I left the Pond and ambled along the bicycle path and then heard some noises so I turned around to investigate. Down the hill is where I met a nice family of five attempting to ascend the steep incline.

One of their sons was just learning to ride a two-wheeler without the training wheels and they were encouraging him to make that slow climb up the hill. Because he had a lot of trepidation, I walked down and encouraged him too. So, after he made it to the top we all applauded and Dad clapped him on the back, said “that’s my boy” and the youngster just beamed. Mom was towing another child and an older child was up ahead. This is the pathway looking down and a sign advising of the sharp incline.

I told the parents this was just my second time here, as it was better as a biking venue, than a walking venue. The Dad asked me what photos I’d taken with my camera at Willow Metropark so far that morning and I advised just photos of the pond and told them about the misfortune with it. They were surprised as they usually ride at other Metroparks and, like me, had only been here once before. Then the Dad said “you have your camera – shoot some video of the fawn that came right up to us just before we met you!” Excited, I said “where – you were right behind me?” He laughed and pointed and I said “I just came from there, so I’m going to double back and find that baby!”

I never saw that fawn, but next went in search of the art reproductions and to be honest, I wasn’t all that successful in that venture either, finding just two of four in the already searing-hot sun.

Art in Park.

After visiting the sad remains of Washago Pond, chattin’ it up with the bikers and hunting down a fawn, it was getting warmer by the moment and I had not located any artwork yet. I saw the same friendly worker, again on his golf cart. I asked about the DIA reproductions, only to discover one was nearly in front of my face – oops.

So these art reproductions were what I was looking for …

… but I only found two of them and the sun’s glare on a too-dark painting and a huge shadow did not make for great pics by me.

I was at Willow Metropark about 90 minutes, then went to Oakwoods Metropark followed by Lower Huron Metropark and those visits will be the next two posts. Thankfully both those were woodsy venues, so I knew it would be a tad cooler (and hopefully some critters as this trek was kind of boring).

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Nope, I did not make that poo; it’s snow!!  #Wordless Wednesday  #That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

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

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A year of magical moments in nature with my camera.

I did a recap in January 2022 of my favorite photos from the previous year and decided an annual recap would be a fun feature going forward. Besides my 2022 “favorites and fabulous finds” I’m adding the calendar page idea which I stole from fellow Michigander and blogger Ruth, i.e. sharing a different calendar page with an inspirational quotation for every month of blogging.

Above is my new calendar’s January 2023 page.

In addition to my favorite 2022 photos, that I’ll insert in a slideshow at the end of this post, I also made some new and fabulous finds, none that were on my perpetual Birdie Bucket List, so that was exciting. You might be surprised to know that in all the miles hiked at various woodsy venues, I had NEVER seen a chipmunk. You haven’t met him/her yet since that story has not unfolded in this forum; I just sorted through those photos over the last holiday weekend.

Ta da! My first “Chippie” is below:

But first … in 2022, the bird was the word!

Believe it or not, every Wordless Wednesday post from August 10th until December 31st, featured a bird, some of them which I spun into fun posts with quirky titles/headlines. I still have a few oddball photos to use.

My 2022 Birdie Bucket List runneth over!

This was last year’s list of hoped-for bird sightings as 2021 came to a close. As the year progressed, I began ticking off several birds on the List:

Canvasback Duck.

I finally saw a Canvasback Duck after years of patiently standing near the water’s edge at the Dingell Park pavilion. On February 27th, I strolled along that park’s boardwalk at the Detroit River as far as I could go, even treading onto private property to view a large raft of these copper-headed beauties. I was happy for that experience, plus some photos, BUT, the very next day I got an up-close view of a Canvasback which spent several days hanging out with the resident Mallards at Council Point Park. Patience is a virtue sometimes.

Bald Eagle.

Likewise, every February and March, I would position myself at that same Dingell Park pavilion, alongside photographers with especially long lenses, as we collectively hoped for photos of the many Bald Eagles that visit nearby uninhabited Mud Island during these two months. The eagles are savvy as they know steam from U.S. Steel, a nearby industrial plant, keeps that portion of the Detroit River from freezing. Thus the eagles will show up like clockwork, scanning for fish, then dragging their find onto an ice floe to devour it. Sadly, that plant has closed down, so likely the eagle sightings will be hit or miss going forward. So, after several years of coming home with brown dots in the trees, I finally had some success and was lucky to fulfill another Birdie Bucket List item, albeit more of a silhouette due to the gray day.

Mute Swans with Cygnets.

After countless trips to Dingell Park hoping to see a Mama Mute Swan with her cygnets nestled in her back feathers, I had to settle for a swan family outing instead. The long-coveted sighting of Mute Swan(s) with cygnets finally happened during a long walk over Memorial Day weekend at Lake Erie Metropark. The family was clear across the marsh, so my shots from the overlook were not stellar, but I crossed that item off the List.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Finally, even with two hummingbird feeders at the house, all I ever got was a shadowy image of Hope, the hummingbird who visits my feeders. This shot, taken at the Oakwoods Metropark at the Nature Center was closer than I’ve ever gotten and I happily ticked “Hummingbird” off my wish list.

I also saw and photographed a Baltimore Oriole, another coveted bird, but it was in the middle of the forest, and not a very good shot.

Brand-new bird discoveries in 2022.

For me, 2022 was a year of feathered friends that I was lucky to encounter and photograph and below are some of those lucky finds.

In my 1,284 miles walked last year, definitely my most-exciting meet-up was with the Sandhill Cranes on June 18th. There I was, exploring a new (to me) grassy cut at Lake Erie Metropark, clicking away happily as a Killdeer crossed my path …

… when I heard some very loud squawking noises overhead. My head swiveled upward and soon thereafter I watched three large birds descend onto the grassy field. I recognized them immediately as Sandhill Cranes, birds I’ve only seen in photos, never up close and personal. They weren’t bothered by my presence in the least, so I took a slew of shots and blogged about them in two posts.

Pied-billed Grebe.

First, I really don’t consider myself a birder, although I have always enjoyed watching and learning about birds and we had many pet birds over the years. I do follow the Detroit Audubon Society’s local adventures on social media and maybe someday I’ll join them. But for now, I glean a lot of info about birds from the photos they post of their year-round trips. So, on July 3rd, standing on the wooden overlook at Lake Erie Metropark, I recognized a Pied-billed Grebe. In between its repeated dives, I was able to get a few shots in, like this one below.

Osprey.

I’d heard and read about the nesting pair of Osprey that live on the fringes of Lake Erie Metropark, yet never glimpsed them. Luckily, I recognized an Osprey overhead during the same trek where I saw the Pied-billed Grebe. After I identified the Osprey, I went to see their nest at the Brownstown Fire Station, just down the road. In the searing hot sun at mid-day I witnessed some serious home renovation with the Osprey’s repeated excursions for new sticks and nesting materials. This was my favorite shot from that day.

Lavender Guinea Fowl.

On September 17th, at the end of a long day of walking, I stopped at Heritage Park. Had I not read fellow blogger Rebecca’s post about Guinea Fowl, I would have had no idea what these plump, rather odd-looking birds were. These Lavender Guinea Fowl were escapees from the Petting Farm at this venue. I helped herd them toward their home and got a few photos of these fast-moving fowl – this shows them scurrying along.

Northern Flicker.

Autumn brought a few more bird finds, which I forgot about until wading through some of my 2022 photos last weekend.

I finally identified an odd bird call I heard in the still of the morning while walking at Council Point Park. The loud call was that of a Northern Flicker, a type of woodpecker and in 2022 I finally caught up with one. Too bad this male (identified by the red, heart-shaped spot on the back of its head) would not pose and instead gave me the cold shoulder.

Belted Kingfisher.

Then, while meandering along the Rouge Gateway Trail, home to several types of birds (including a Wood Duck which I hope to one day see and I have put it on my 2023 Birdie Bucket List), I spied a Belted Kingfisher. I’m not sure if it is a male or female as I can’t see its chest colors. This bird perched on a branch across from the bridge where I stood. Yes, if you squint just right you can see it, but I had to include this Kingfisher with my batch of new bird finds in 2022.

A ducky day for sure!

Then, with just a couple of weeks before year-end, I made my last new bird find of 2022 and I’ve not written about it until now.

That discovery began the evening of Saturday, December 10th when I was perusing my Facebook feed which is flooded with posts by the parks and nature venues which I frequent. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (“DRIWF”) in Trenton had a Facebook post about a unique duck visitor to the pond.

The car needed a run and even though stubborn clouds and gray skies persisted, after I walked at Council Point Park, I headed out to the Refuge. The Park ranger that posted about this unique duck wrote “pond” but I assumed (correctly) it was the larger body of water known as the Monguagon Delta.

As I neared the long boardwalk that crosses the Delta, I didn’t have to wonder if this was the spot for viewing this duck as two photographers with lenses as long as their arm were sitting cross-legged on the boardwalk, cameras trained on the duck which was splish-splashing and diving, seemingly enjoying being the solo waterfowl in the Delta. I joined the two photographers and soon we were trading bird sighting stories and tips, a few which I tucked away, like the DRIWF’s resident Kestrel. I’ll pursue that bird in 2023.

I admit it was a tad disappointing to learn this was a Juvenile Male Long-Tailed Duck, so it did not yet have that extra-long tail feather as you see in this photo from the “All About Birds” website.

But forget about that long tail feather, because this young duck had some unique plumage; just check out the head with its black cheeks!

I last visited the DRIWF on October 10th but just two months later, on December 11th, I was astounded to see how much the water level had dropped since then. The Delta was so shallow I could see the sandy Delta bottom, plus many schools of minnows scurrying about. With no Herons or Egrets to gobble down those tiny fish, this duck dived over and over again to feast on the minnows, much to the delight of the trio of humans who watched, while merrily clicking away.

How lucky we were not out Christmas shopping, but landed here instead and enjoying Nature’s gifts.

After about an hour’s time, we parted and headed to our respective cars. I learned later in the comments section of the original DRIWF post, that this duck is not uncommon to our state, just not usually found in SE Michigan. That’s fine – it was a lucky find for me.

My 2023 Birdie Bucket List is considerably shorter!

Now, if you’re still here ….

These were my favorite shots of 2022, all which I have blogged about, so if you’ve been following this blog in 2022, you’ve already seen them. I really enjoyed watching Mama Goose at Heritage Park, first while sitting on the nest in early April to seeing her examining her eggs, then seeing her goslings toddling around after her.

With all that is going on in the world these days, I treasure my alone time on each and every walk, especially when I have unexpected nature encounters.

Posted in birds, nature, walk, walking, Year-end Recap, | Tagged , , , | 69 Comments

The weather outside is frightful, but the sherpa’s so delightful! #Wordless Wednesday #Brr! #But today will be 55F!

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, walk, walking, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 47 Comments

East side, west side, all around the town …

It is time for the final tally of miles walked this past year. Yes, I made it … whew! I actually finished up a few weeks ago thanks to stellar weather in October and early November. Good thing I wasn’t down to the wire as my walking regimen halted for four days over Christmas weekend courtesy of the Bomb Cyclone, when my measly walks were a trudge to the garage to run the car and along whatever snowy paths I cleared with my shovel.

What a difference a week makes, BUT, although the weather now feels like Spring, perfect for walking …

… it has rained yesterday and today, so I have slept in and rested on my laurels.

So here is how it all shakes out.

I met my goal of 1,256 miles (2,022 kilometers) on December 11th. I added another 28 miles to my total the past few weeks. Next year I will add one more mile for my 2023 goal (1,257 miles/2,023 kilometers).

And yay me for what I did driving wise, probably shocking fellow bloggers Ruth …

… and JP, both who teased me about my low car mileage back in January.

You both inspired me, (plus in May the mechanic reminded me I needed to drive the car more, forcing me to drive it to the Park daily and walk two more loops there, instead of walking through the ‘hood, unless we have wintry weather). I used to think it was fun to walk more miles than I drove, that is until I realized I was harming the car. The car was in the shop for two weeks in May or I may have racked up more miles.

Here are my odometer readings from January 2022 and a few weeks ago (1,300 miles is a lot of miles for me):

It was the best of times, …

… it was the worst of times, ….” is not only a portion of a famous quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” but it also describes the last quarter of this year for me, when Mother Nature not only graciously granted me every weekend in October and early November to walk my socks off and really ramp up my miles, but she also had some wily weather tricks up her sleeve.

Yes, Mother Nature became my nemesis.

Maybe I whined about Mother Nature a little too much as to the heat and humidity, like on the first day of Summer when it was 96F/36C, or those doggone Dog Days of August, especially with this real-feel temp – ugh!

On the positive side, that lack of rain (this was our region’s third driest year on record) meant more days to walk!

I took every chance I got to enjoy the dry and unseasonably warm Fall weather. One local weatherman said the weather was “boringly great” and a couple of days later The Free Press described our weather:

It was great until it wasn’t …and, as you see here, again, like Christmas and New Year’s weekends, what a difference a week made!

Perhaps I offended Mother Nature by complaining here in comments or grumbling to myself as I added and subtracted clothing to match the weather that day, then, just before Thanksgiving, every time I turned around I was dealing with some weather-related issue here at the house. I was told it was our ever-changing temps: hot/cold and it was that disparity in temps that caused consternation, not to mention money.

I suddenly needed new deadbolt locks on both doors … never mind the fact that one door’s deadbolt was installed in 1984 and the other had been replaced in 2017. Both suddenly seized up and refused to turn. The locksmith said “hot/cold weather cycles are making your door frames shift ma’am.”

Then there was that hairline crack I noticed on the hall ceiling earlier this year. I thought it was pretty inconsequential – that’s a good way to describe it, THEN it morphed bigtime! Perhaps if I used the long-handled duster more, or had paid attention to that crack before I needed to change the light bulb in the hall light fixture, I would have seen that crack expanded and traveled across the hall ceiling and down the wall. That’s my job to fix now. And a paint job to boot … that painting task can wait until retirement, whenever that will be.

The Wicked Wind.

One day I noticed wide cracks in the mortar on the outside bricks. I had the handyman take a look and he determined the wind had caught the awning, partially pulling it from the wall and that created fractures in the mortar. Everything’s been shored up and tuck pointed, so hopefully that won’t happen again!

Yes, Mother Nature had her way with me with that wicked wind, but there was more to come … for sure my worst experience of 2022. Many of you know the whole story of the weather woes on December 2nd, so I’ll give you the abridged version here.

As I tootled off to bed that evening, I knew that gusty winds were forecast for the 1:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. time frame. And yes, that big old dead tree in the backyard two neighbors down was worrisome, but I fell asleep quickly as I’d walked five miles earlier in the day.

After hearing a series of horrific booms at 11:30 p.m., I bolted out of bed. Simultaneously I heard banging at the front door, threw on some clothes and found neighbors standing at the bottom of my front porch steps trying to alert me there was a raging fire in the house behind mine, just 25 feet from where I slept. The loud booms happened when a tree branch from the dead tree fell onto the power line and the line fell onto the chain-link fence between our houses – the arcing noises on the metal caused the booms. The wind whipping around moved the downed wire to the neighbor’s garage and it was on fire.

These are some photos of the fire from our City’s Facebook Resident Forum. These photos were taken at the front of the neighbor’s house – you can’t see my house as it’s behind the flames:

The fireman put caution tape around my house and I was told to wait for the all clear, which came shortly before 2:00 a.m. Inside the house, it was very smoky and I wore a mask for two days. We got power back mid-day Saturday.

I should have taken a photo of the garage, but the shell of a garage was demolished and hauled away a few days later. I only got photos of the debris. That corner of the yard is scorched, bushes planted decades ago gone, BUT the house was spared … as was I.

Years ago, before the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014 ravaged my butterfly garden, the yard was a paradise. I refused to replant, then I began walking in 2011, then blogging in 2013 … less time to garden, so, I will dwell on what to do about not only this corner but the rest of the yard over the Winter.

In 2022, I lost a few friends.

Spring was tough – I lost four friends from March through June. Terry passed away from complications of a stroke and COVID in March; Kirk was in his vehicle at a stop light when a dump truck driver was texting and rammed into his vehicle and Kirk succumbed to multiple injuries two days later in May. In June, John lost his life to heart failure. Lives snuffed out – friends suddenly gone.

I also miss Arnie, a fellow walker, whom I often mentioned in my posts. While I prefer a solitary walk, Arnie and I discussed nature as seasons unfolded at Council Point Park while we fed the squirrels. He only walked one loop per day here, but he frequented other nature venues where I visit, so he gave me rundowns of what he saw on his bike rides there. Arnie did not use a computer so he could not check out my blog, but he would have loved to hear about some of this year’s nature sightings, especially the Sandhill Cranes as he was a birder. Here is a photo of Arnie and his wife Carol I featured in a post. Carol walked sporadically due to back issues and has not been back to the Park since Arnie’s passing in June.

I hope 2023 will be better

I’m borrowing an idea from fellow blogger Ruth. She is a Michigander like me and every month in her blog Ruth features an inspirational calendar’s monthly quote. I saw a great nature calendar with monthly quotes and bought it, then shared with Ruth I was going to be a copycat. This is the calendar front and back.

No, I’m not going to open it and hang it until January 1st. My mom never hung up a calendar until the new year arrived deeming it bad luck to do so. So, “Momism” or old wive’s tale, its shrink wrap stays on one more day. Stay tuned for the January page in my first 2023 post. Finally, (if you’re still here – I know this post is long), my New Year’s wish for you, appropriately an e-card calendar of nature scenes, can be found by clicking here.

Happy New Year one and all!

Posted in walk, walking, year-end goal | Tagged , , , | 98 Comments

Got a crick in my neck – ouch! #Wordless Wednesday #Too many kisses under the mistletoe!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, Christmas, nature | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Season’s Treatings!

One could liken the non-stop parade of tantalizing goodies to a snowball rolling downhill, accumulating a little more snow as it picks up speed.

Hopefully you did not pick up a few more inches around your waistline from holiday treats!

Think about it … it’s not just the treats from the year-end holidays, but it all begins after Labor Day when cider and donuts are rolled out, then caramel apples and pumpkin goodies are the preferred fare. Soon you’re into the Halloween candy, sneaking a mini bar here or there – the more the merrier. You might even loosen your belt after the Thanksgiving feast, but then it’s on to Hanukkah or Christmas gatherings, finally culminating at New Year’s Eve with the charcuterie board or a fabulous array of canapés and more fattening goodies. Groan – loosen the pants, or better yet, look for sweatpants.

Christmas Present.

Yours truly is writing this post after swigging down custard eggnog and finishing off several kolackes that my friend Ann Marie dropped off for me yesterday. I was outside shoveling the drifts of snow and running the car when she pulled up in her red sleigh, er … car and handed me a festive Christmas gift bag. We chatted a few minutes in the sub-zero temps, then she hopped back into her car to continue on her journey dispensing Christmas goodies to her friends.

Inside the gift bag were treats and this cute little squirrel, a bookworm with his/her book and oversized spectacles. I took a picture …

… then set this sweet squirrel on my corner cabinet and the treats I kept for today and through the holidays.

I laughed when I got my Christmas card from Ann Marie because I think it is Ann Marie in disguise.

I borrowed again from the Avanti website as the lighting was not so good for my photo above.

Christmas Past.

I first met Ann Marie at Council Point Park and we walked together a few times before she moved to Southgate, a nearby city. Although Ann Marie makes a “drop” at all the holidays and my birthday, she usually hangs the gift bag or plate of goodies in a bag on the fence, then calls me from her car. I’m usually home and at work by that time. We had not connected in several years until this past Thanksgiving when I was returning from walking and there she was, exiting the car and ready to make that day’s drop of turkey cookies; then, as you see from her sticky note with my name on it, there would be other drops, with other friends’ names, who would similarly munch turkey cookies made with love.

Here are some Christmas treats from recent years.

Ann Marie is my holiday angel and since I don’t bake, I can’t “pay it forward” as that expression goes … that is, unless you want to count doling out goodies to my furry and feathered friends. This year I didn’t do a Christmas squirrel goodies post because I recently had similar posts for Halloween and Thanksgiving. But I have some suet and walnuts for a special treat once this weather gets a tad warmer and I can get there to visit them. I am sure during this brutal weather, the squirrels huddled together in their nests and the birds did likewise.

Fat-bottomed squirrels you make the walking world go ‘round.

Okay, so I tweaked the title of rock group Queen’s song title “Fat Bottomed Girls” just a bit.

I took a few shots of my furry friends as their behinds blossomed throughout the Fall months. Yes, they still come over to see me, begging along the path for peanuts and sunflower seeds, pretending they don’t see those piles I put in the usual places. I don’t take all the credit for that weight gain. Mother Nature helps them out with thicker fur and growing a layer of fat to insulate them when food is scarce and Winter weather is fierce. Squirrels can add 50% to their body weight in preparation for this season.

Please know that their scamper has turned into a waddle. 🙂

A little mirth at their girth … let’s have a look at my furry friends.

How to wrangle a corncob.

The black squirrels seem to remain lithe … even petite, unlike their counterparts. This squirrel dragged a corncob away from the Safe Haven Tree to the grass to gnaw on it.

So, would you agree that having skipped the butter and salt, he/she was having a healthy meal?

So, for this cutie pie, unlike many of us come January 1, 2023, there will be no atoning for food sins committed during the past four months.

Posted in holiday, nature, Squirrels, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 108 Comments