Fields of fuzz and a fur baby.

FINAL HEADER

It was just a couple of weeks ago that thousands of dandelions infiltrated the grassy areas at Council Point Park.  At a glance, it resembled a golden carpet.

And now those dandelions have gone to seed, much to the chagrin of the Canada geese that enjoyed those sunny-looking weeds as a breakfast treat.  They had perfected the art of eating those dandelions, first wrangling the heads off with their beak, then slurping down the shiny stems like a kid eats spaghetti.  It was comical to watch them.

Most of the dandelions these days are clumps of gangly, rubber-like stems with delicate puffballs on top.  Once a week the mowing crew comes to cut the grass at the Park.  They are way overdue, likely because of this never-ending rain, so these delicate-looking dandelions are everywhere.

 

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PATHWAY

The Canada geese are a little finicky because they prefer the golden dandelions, but these not so much.  They’ll walk through the fields, but they don’t munch on the spent dandelions.

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I saw two families of geese with their goslings and they were grazing in lush grass, in a rare area that was dandelion-free.

The bunnies have been scarce at the Park this Spring and this is only the second time I’ve seen one since the snow disappeared.  From afar I saw him, blissfully nestled in this field, dining on dew-topped dandelions.

HUNNY BAR FROM AFAR

Since he didn’t even bolt as I neared him to take a picture, I inched even closer.  He gave me a sideways glance and just kept right on chewing away, as I clicked away for this close-up of him enjoying a dandelion head.

HUNNY BUNNY CLOSE UP

The bunny looked warm in his fur coat and I would have liked to grab him to warm my hands.  This Spring is such a disappointment.  When I left the house this morning, it was a mere 50 degrees and a chilly breeze was blowing.  I had on a sweat suit and a sweatshirt jacket, and, as the breeze blew through the Park, I shivered just a bit.  I sure hope this is not the new normal for Spring, as this season surely has fallen short of our expectations, especially coming off that cold and snowy Winter.  It’s hard to believe one month from today will be the first day of Summer.  Hopefully, the weather has perked up some by the 21st of June.

As I write this post, it is teeming raining once again and will continue all night and through mid-morning Tuesday.  Our Memorial Day weekend will likewise be spoiled by rain and rumbles of thunder.  The lawn and weeds are loving the rain, and I just may need to snag that bunny under my arm and bring him home to dine on the lovely weeds that are already popping up in my garden.

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Forward … march!

FORWARD MARCH

I don’t always hurry through the ‘hood when I walk.  Sometimes I take my good old sweet time.  Today was such a day.

Yesterday’s weather was abysmal – there is no other word for it.  From early morning until nightfall, waves of torrential rain and thunderstorms made for one very soggy Saturday.  I began my day by hunkering down in front of the computer screen, along with about 1,255,236 people who were similarly tuned into YouTube to take in the Royal Wedding 2018. The wedding ceremony was moving and I loved the pomp and pageantry afterward.  This was my third Royal wedding I have viewed, beginning with the 1981 marriage of Charles and Diana,  which I watched on the little B&W television in my bedroom before heading off to work.  Then it was William and Kate in 2011 and now Harry and Meghan.  I even misted up hearing “God Save the Queen” … I guess, once a Canadian, always a Canadian.

Luckily their day was picture perfect and they were not stuck with our weather.  At one point, perhaps around 8:00 p.m., the sun finally dared to show up and I thought it should have been ashamed of itself for making such a late arrival.  However, had I peered out the door, instead of merely harrumphing at that bright orb, I might have noticed this beautiful rainbow that my friend Ann Marie saw behind her apartment building and promptly e-mailed to me.

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Indeed, that pretty rainbow was the reward for all of us enduring such a dreary, drizzly day.

Unbelievably, the skies were still spitting out rain in the early morn, so I decided to retool any Park plans I had today and walk in the neighborhood,  then go to the City’s Memorial Day parade instead.

The sun was pale and it was chilly when I finally ventured outside.

On my walk, I noticed a robin’s nest brimming with babies.  I smiled at the red-breasted brood watching the world go by from their nest up in the eaves trough.  There was a momentary sadness as I recalled “our” robins who might have looked just like these and maybe even fledged this weekend.  These chicks were in a nest high up near the gutters and seemingly safe from any predators.

NEST UP HIGH

I zoomed in on them and they were all looking in the same direction – most likely at Mama who was perched in a nearby tree.

MAMA ROBIN

I didn’t see Mama with any grubs or worms in her mouth, so I knew I wasn’t interrupting feeding time, therefore I took a few pictures, zooming in on this cute family of robin chicks.  They all looked a little disgruntled, each resembling my grumpy face until I’ve downed that first cup of coffee.

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I saw a funny video on my friend Carol’s Facebook page the other day and I wish I could share it here, but I couldn’t find a link to use.  It was a man who found a baby robin and the chick could not fly very well.  Evidently, it was an orphan, so he took it upon himself to care for this wee soul.  So, this guy goes out to the garden with a pitchfork every morning and turns up the soil to expose worms and grubs for his feathered friend.  Oh, did I mention that the robin likes to ride along on the pitchfork as he makes his way to the garden?  What worms are missed by the baby robin, the man picks them up and hand feeds him, dropping them one by one into that upturned mouth.

People don’t have any flowers planted yet, just a few porch pots here and there.  I sure don’t blame them as it’s been so cold and those torrential rains yesterday would have beaten them up pretty badly.

But this tree had two things going for it … or, perhaps I should say, growing on it.

TREE AND DANDELION

Somehow dandelions were growing in a little spot of dirt above the base of the tree.

DANDELION IN TREE

And, as that expression goes about a “fungus among us” … a healthy-looking appendage, a/k/a bracket fungi, was growing on the tree trunk.  Ewww, but I still took a photo of it.

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Finally, it was close to the parade start time, so I wandered over to Memorial Park to get a primo spot.  While I used to attend the parade for years, I eventually stopped going until 2014, when I went over to watch the parade only, just for old time’s sake and to get some photos to accompany the narrative for that day’s blog post.

Today there was much police presence, and even the Downriver SWAT vehicle was featured behind the fire truck as the parade rolled by.

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The Shriners were a big part of the festivities, riding their miniature cars, or motorcycles, and there was even a paddy wagon with Keystone Cops.  The Shriners swerved and dipped their vehicles to the delight of the crowd and not a single fez fell from their respective heads.

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KEYSTONE COPS

There were Shriner clowns as well and they stepped close to the crowd for those who wanted a quick selfie.

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CLOWN 2

Honest Abe and his bride made their way down the one-mile parade route, stopping to give a quick thumbs up, or smile at the many cameras and phones that were clicking away as they passed.  The couple is a fixture at most of the City of Lincoln Park’s festivities.

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I was disappointed the Lincoln Park Exchange Club did not have the field of flags display this year.  The display consists of full-sized flags each on its own pole, each flag representing the 129 Lincoln Park residents who have died serving their country, beginning with World War I.  Each flag has a tag that bears the deceased’s personal information, including date of birth/death, rank and where they died.  The display usually goes up the week before the parade and I have visited that before.  However, there were flags encircling the historic cannon and near the Fallen Heroes memorial and pavilion area.

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Once the parade festivities were over, everyone gathered under and around the pavilion before the huge granite memorial, where bronze plaques list the war dead from World Wars I and II as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.  The sky was gloomy and gray and seemed like it would start to pour raining at any minute … that would be fitting for this solemn service, wouldn’t it?

The memorial service was touching and very respectful.  ROTC members and veterans gathered and saluted one another before speaking and after placing a wreath at the memorial.  The service lasted about an hour, and there were speakers, including one that sang “The Star Spangled Banner”.  There were prayers said, the Pledge of Allegiance recited, a salute by the Canadian Navy Honor Guard and the mournful sound of “Taps” as well during the service.

CANADIAN HONOR GUARD

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With the strains of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” playing on the loud speaker in the background, I must say I was very moved, so much so, that for the second day in a row, I felt tears begin to flood my eyes … I guess, having lived in the States for nearly 52 years, I feel like I am an American as well.

I watched a few older veterans staring transfixed at the memorial stones, no doubt recalling their own memories, and likely their fallen comrades from many years ago.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude.  America will never forget their sacrifices.” ~ President Harry S. Truman

 

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Sweet indulgences.

YUMMY OPEN MOUTH

My boss was at a meeting this morning, so it provided the perfect opportunity to meander a little more than usual, like I do on weekends.  The wind was blowing like crazy, the prelude to what will be another rainy weekend … and beyond.  At least it won’t be a total soaker – just a few thunderstorms and intermittent rain over the weekend, but all the way through Tuesday.

I decided to bring treats for my furry friends at the Park since I may not show up at the regular “feeding time” for a few days – this morning’s treat was “Nutter Butter” cookies.  You may know the full-sized sandwich cookies by their peanut shape and the smooth peanut butter which holds them together.  Well, the last time I went grocery shopping, Meijer had a huge display of all types of bite-sized treats in plastic to-go cups, so I decided to get “Nutter Butter Bites” for the squirrels.

NUTTER BUTTER PICS

My long-time followers will remember last year when I introduced peanut M&Ms to Parker, my favorite squirrel at Council Point Park.  Sure, he was dubious as to whether those candy-coated morsels were edible, or something just to push around with the tip of his nose.  You can see his impressions and my photos in last year’s post:  https://lindaschaubblog.net/2017/07/20/just-for-kicks/

I do aim to please my furry pals, as well as see if I can eke out a photo opportunity, however, I took back-up peanuts just in case these peanut butter cookies didn’t hold any appeal.

I tossed out a few Nutter Butter Bites to Parker who pounced on them immediately.

POUNCING ON A COOKIE

How about a few more treats?

BEGINNING COOKIES

He sat holding each one in his front paws, nibbling with dainty bites, much like a small child would eat a cookie.

NIBBLING COOKIE LIKE A CHILD

Parker enjoyed one cookie by prying it apart and licking out the peanut butter (sometimes the preferred way to enjoy an Oreo.)

EAT THEM LIKE AN OREO

My furry friend finished both of them, then came begging for more.

PARKER ON MY SHOE

I tossed out a few more, then some of his friends, no doubt detecting the scent of peanut butter in the wind, showed up and surrounded me as well.

OTHER SQUIRRELS ARRIVE

I was happy to accommodate.

I went along on my walk with a cup of cookies in each pocket, tossing them to my furry pals along the way.  I took my time on my trek, returning a second and third time on the same loop, to make sure I had everyone covered.  No need to pull out a single peanut from my Ziploc package.  I used up all my cookies so I decided it was time to head home.

I left Council Point Park with a warm-and-fuzzy feeling, and arrived home with 5 ½ miles walked, but, while having coffee and a snack afterward, I turned on the radio and heard the news … it quickly put a tarnish on my sunny disposition.

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Meanwhile at the ol’ swimming hole …

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All Winter, as we endured that 61-inch snowfall here in Southeast Michigan, I moaned and groaned about the endless shoveling that I did because of my “deal” with my next-door neighbor –  I shovel both properties all Winter, then he mows both properties during the growing season.  Unfortunately for me, his property is twice as big as mine, with more driveway, deck and pathways to shovel.  I sure am grateful that my turn is over and now he taking care of the lawns until October or November, especially in lieu of all this rain.  Jeff just mowed the day before the incessant rain, and today the grass blades are way past my ankles, and halfway to my knees.  The lawn is looking thick and lush … those weeds are looking pretty healthy too.  The grass is starting to go to seed, as are the dandelions, with their wispy puffs adrift when I walked along on this still morn.

I was happy to step outside where it was sunny and surprisingly warm, since it was chilly in the house and I had put the heat back on.  I headed down to the Park, and along the way the neighborhood was filled with a cacophony of loud noises … lawn mowers groaned mightily as they munched up grass, weed whippers whirred and blowers blasted as lawn services hustled to attend to their customers’ properties, after the overlong spate of rainy weather.  In record time, their powerful yard equipment had already begun to neaten up those homes.  There must’ve been at least five of those lawn services enroute to the Park, and the noise was deafening.

But, once at the Park, the familiar feeling of peace and quiet was evident.  I heard the woodpecker drumming a near-hollow tree and the red-winged blackbirds calling to one another from their respective trees.  I think it was quiet enough to hear the tap, tap, tap of squirrel toenails scrambling down bark, or racing across the asphalt path for peanuts.  I was willing to accommodate those furry friends, and had tucked an extra bag in my coat pocket, figuring that no other walkers had frequented the pathway since last week due to the rain, and the squirrels were probably starving.  The bushes that bear black raspberries, and the apple trees in the Park are a long way from producing any fruit goodies for our pals and it was a pitiful sight to see a squirrel holding a dirty walnut in his mouth and another one chomping on a pinecone.  “Poor babies” I called out … “come and see Linda.”

While we humans were weary of all the wet weather, this is why ducks and geese are called waterfowl.  All the rain and wet weather did not deter them from sliding into the local swimming hole.  While it wasn’t warm or sunny enough for people to apply sunscreen before heading out and jumping into a pool, the geese and ducklings seemed content to plop into the Ecorse Creek for a quick dip.

DO I TAKE THE PLUNGE

Hmmm – do I take the plunge?

GOIN FOR IT

I’m going for it!

DUCKLING SWIMMING LESSONS

Duckling swimming lessons.

I decided not to overdo the walking since I’d not been on the trail in days, so I just walked one loop, plus my round trip to the Park, so a little over three miles.  I’ll do more steps tomorrow – it’s supposed to be another beautiful day.

It was a blissful morning and over way too soon.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

For happiness, how little suffices for happiness! … the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisper, an eye glance — little maketh up the best happiness. Be still. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Yes, I am a bleeding heart.

CoCo story

For as long as I can remember, I have had a soft spot in my heart for animals.  It was more than just a childish love of the family pets who came in and out of my life.  When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the response was always “ a veterinarian” having enjoyed the novel and movie versions of “The Red Pony”, “Old Yeller”, “Rascal” and “The Incredible Journey”.  As I got older, I enjoyed the collection of animal tales by British country vet James Herriot, and I figure his adventures are really what clinched the idea of that vocation.

My parents said they’d fund college for me to be a veterinarian and I was ecstatic; too bad my grades in math and science were not stellar and I had to abandon that dream.  My mom would later tell me they never believed I would have the heart to attend to animals that were sick, or in pain, as I was too much of a “softie” or a “bleeding heart”.

Since I had no siblings, and, because my parents believed that every child should have a dog, when I was three years old, Fritzy, a beautiful German Shepherd, came to live at 497 Sandmere Place.  My father’s co-worker raised German Shepherds, and one day my dad came home from work with a new puppy.   He became my oversized playmate.

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As the months passed, this little girl and her big dog romped around the yard with endless energy.

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But Fritzy started having difficulty getting up and down the stairs, and a trip to the vet verified that he had developed hip dysplasia, a common malady for large dogs.  The diagnosis was dire because it would worsen with age, so my parents had Fritzy euthanized.  That was my first experience coping with loss and I was devastated.

My parents promised we would wait awhile then get another dog next year for my birthday, so as that day neared, off we went to the breeder at Wag-a-Way Kennels, where we got a beautiful blonde Cocker Spaniel, that we named Co-Co, and, who is the subject of my first grade drawing you see above.

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Co-Co did not last long in the Schaub household, because, even after obedience training, he would not ask for the door to go out, resulting in piddle puddles all through the house, especially on the carpeting.  My mom, who was already frustrated with the fact that Co-Co’s long, silky ears dragged into his water and dog food bowls, (so the contents were tracked everywhere), was not too pleased with Co-Co and he spent many hours clipped to the clothesline on a long lead in the backyard while she cleaned his ever-present messes.  Mom finally put her foot down and Co-Co was given away.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Thinking the third time may be the charm when it came to pets, our next dog was a black poodle named Peppy.

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He was not like most poodles, because he was wiry and wild-acting, and liked to dig holes in the backyard.  One day he dug a hole under the fence and escaped.  Our subdivision was plagued by a pack of wild dogs that ran together and someone put out raw meat spiked with rat poison to kill them, and Peppy got hold of some.  While I was at school, he came home foaming at the mouth.  My mom rarely, if ever, called my dad at work, but she called and said he had to come home and take Peppy to the vet to be put down before I got home from school.

That was 1965, and I was nine years old.  That evening, my parents sat me down, explained about Peppy’s fate, and I was told there would be no more dogs at our house, and, after I moved out on my own, my parents would buy me a dog as a housewarming present.

Alas, we were a “petless” family once again.  To fill the void, we got a parakeet.  Skippy was full of personality, and the first of many pet birds which would fill our house with joy, whether it was their playful antics, talking a blue streak, or, in the case of our canaries, beautiful singing.

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After Skippy’s arrival, I developed a lifelong affinity for birds.

I catered to the birds in the backyard for years.  There were multiple feeders, plus treats, and in the warm months I put out four birdbaths, to accommodate every size bird that visited.  They’d wait for me every morning, all year long, as I loaded up the feeders, or put out seed blocks.

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In the Summer months, with the backyard garden, it was like a paradise.

And then came the rats … and it was paradise lost.

A new neighbor moved in behind us in the Fall of 2007.  He bought a pit bull and left it outside 24/7, even in Winter.  He fed it table scraps and by the Summer of 2008, there were rats in our backyard.  We had to call in an exterminator to bait traps, so feeding the birds was discouraged.  Likewise, no more setting out birdbaths because the rats eat the poison and it dries their insides, so they seek a water source, and a birdbath would be ideal for them.  I watched every morning as my feathered friends lined up along the chain link fence, wondering why I no longer catered to them.  Where were their treats, their water?  It made me sad and I could not bear to look at them.

My neighbor Marge, also afflicted with rats, discontinued her feeding and birdbaths as well, but finally resumed only a few years ago, as she felt badly for the birds and missed their activity as she sat out on her backyard deck all Summer.  But I never returned to my ritual, having seen a few too many bloated rat bodies in the backyard.  I felt ill by their presence, knowing how they destroyed my paradise – I did not wish to go through that horror again.  Instead, I got my “bird fix” by watching Marge’s deck activity, or during my walks in the Park.

Since I appreciate my feathered friends, just like many of you, I’ve enjoyed the daily reports my friend Evelyn sent me about the robins.  I felt like “Aunt Linda” watching Evelyn’s little family from afar, and, I was thoroughly intrigued by the whole process, watching those baby robins growing from naked, scrawny hatchlings into cute chicks.

But sadly, now the nest is empty.

I wish I could say that on their 10th day after hatching, they fledged and went off to explore the world.  But, instead it is with sadness that I tell you that a predator got to the robin chicks yesterday.

Shortly after Evelyn sent me my daily photo of the trio, (pictured below), she noticed a 4-5 foot black snake lurking around her porch and took a photo to send to me.

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She has sent me photos of black snakes in the past when she found them sunning themselves, stretched out along the porch railing.  She has been fearless about those snakes and simply moved them to another location.  I, however, shuddered at those photos, having never encountered a snake in my life.

Evelyn reached down and grabbed that black snake and threw it over the back fence and went inside the house.

A short time later, she heard a commotion – a lot of squawking, so she rushed outside.  She saw the snake and it had a chick in its mouth.  The male and female robins were swooping and diving, in an effort to drive the snake away from the nest, but the snake was not fazed at all.  So Evelyn grabbed that snake and it dropped the chick, which was already dead.  There was only one chick remaining in the nest at that time.

Adrenalin set in and Evelyn had the presence of mind to grab a garden rake and she wrangled the snake away from the nest.  She wasted no time in snagging that snake and then dropped it into a large nearby empty flower pot and covered the pot with a piece of glass.  She marched to the end of the street to deposit the snake into a wooded area, then returned home and called the Wildlife Center to see if 100 yards was far enough away for the snake to lose scent of the babies.  She left a voicemail to that effect, then went back outside the house only to find the remaining chick gone from the nest.

Evelyn sent an e-mail to tell me what happened, then agonized over the death of the three chicks throughout the afternoon.  The woman at the Wildlife Center finally called back.  She was amazed Evelyn had dealt with the snake in a humane manner, and, suggested that even though the chicks could not fly, that perhaps the parents encouraged both chicks to jump into a nearby bush for shelter.  Buoyed by that more-pleasant scenario on the chicks’ fate, Evelyn hasn’t yet peered into the bush, but we hope that our family of feathered friends has sought refuge there.

In their last photos, they really were starting to look more like robins, and, if you remember, they would have been ready to leave the nest at only 13 days old, or by week’s end.

13TH

05/13/18

14TH

05/14/18

Evelyn tells me she’ll likely take down the nest to thwart any robins from future nest-building activities and to not invite another predator gaining access to any baby robins.

Meanwhile, we delighted in the experience.  Sometimes it is the little things in life that make us smile and not frown.  With daily horrible headlines screaming out at us on social media and the news, sometimes we need a glimpse of nature to balance out the bad stuff.  Nature is wonderful most of the time; sometimes not so much, as evidenced  as this tale unfolded.

Tomorrow I hope to venture out on a walk to my favorite nature nook.  The weatherman reports that we’ve had over 5 inches of rain since last Friday.  It has rained every day for the past 7 days, and 11 of the first 15 days this month.  We sure are overdue for some sun and a little warmer temps.

 

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Dust bunnies and dandelions.

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There is a young man, maybe in his 20s, who has been frequenting Council Point Park lately.  Nate is a kindred spirit, who similarly enjoys the Park’s ambiance and is particularly infatuated with the squirrels and birds.   One day last week he paused at the spot where I was feeding the squirrels.

Nate quickly became intrigued by a cardinal, who interjected himself into the feeding frenzy.  His face lit up as he turned to me and said “hey, this is so cool!” and he was genuinely enjoying the experience, so I poured out some peanuts from my bag into his hands to share with him.  He quickly tossed a few out and a couple of squirrels raced over to where they landed, followed by one red cardinal which alighted on the asphalt path soon thereafter.

Nate took out his phone and started taking a video of the whole scene, then showed me that video, along with some others of eagles and swans that he had recently seen.

We chatted a little while our furry and feathered friends enjoyed their treats.  Then we both looked up in the tree and noticed the male cardinal looking down at us expectantly, probably awaiting more peanuts to be doled out to the squirrels, so he could nab one.  “Your turn” I told Nate, and, once again, he tossed several peanuts onto the asphalt path.

Then he asked me if I had heard of the legend of the cardinal and what their presence signified.  I responded that yes, I had heard that theory.  Next, Nate asked me if I believed that these cardinals in the Park were angels of loved ones lost who were reaching out to those they left behind.  I told Nate that would be a pleasant thought, and I’d like to believe that this scarlet beauty was my mom, who dearly loved cardinals, collected figurines of them, and that Mom was looking over my shoulder as I strolled around my favorite nature nook.

I also conceded it is likely that the cardinal’s motives are not 100% pure and our daily meet-and-greet at the same tree is likely to swipe peanuts when the squirrels are not looking.  He smiled at my reasoning.

But, after I said goodbye to Nate and headed home, I replayed our conversation in my mind.  I decided that sometimes it is not always so great to be a realist, and occasionally one should indulge in a little fiction or fantasy.

If you’ve never heard the legend about the cardinals, I found it on Pinterest.

Legend of the Cardinal

I don’t have a tree filled with cardinals looking down at me.

Just one.

And, he is always in the same tree.

This is the picture I took that morning in the Park when I met Nate.

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And here’s another photo of the cardinal, a bright spot in a bare tree, in the tail end of Winter.

Cardinal in Winter time

I lost my mom on January 31, 2010 and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.  If she is indeed looking down on me, she would be clucking her tongue, because she was a fastidious housekeeper, and she liked the house, both inside and outside, to look immaculate at all times.  She likely would chastise me for being out walking, or writing this blog post, when there are other items that need my attention.

We clearly skipped a generation, for I don’t have those same genes as Mom.  These days I try not to sweat the small stuff, but put blinders on instead.

Note to Mom – I love you, but if you’re looking down on me, please ignore those dust bunnies and dandelions, okay?

[Image of The Legend of the Cardinals from Pinterest.]

 

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A soggy Saturday, glimpses of goslings, and the robins are growing up fast.

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Spring here in Southeast Michigan has really been nothing special.  May’s incessant rain has made our days dreary and dismal, with sunny days few and far between.  It has been raining since noon on Friday, sometimes torrential downpours, and off-and-on thunderstorms.  So, I slept in late on this soggy Saturday, since I knew it would be a stay-at-home day, and likely Sunday too, unless the rain finally ends.  Sigh.

But, I have been busy gathering my photos for Mother’s Day weekend blog posts, which I will use rain or shine.

The first part of this post involves the second sighting of goslings at Council Point Park last Wednesday.

As I rounded the perimeter path at the old twisted tree, there they were, the goslings and their parents, grazing by the blue metal park bench.  I’d have liked it better if they weren’t so close to the bench and I had a clearer view of the entire family, but I wasn’t about to shout “hey you guys – move over to the left a little would you?”  The family was fairly close to the walking path, so I left the path and stood on the nearby grass to get a better look at them, and thus avoid getting the gander riled up.

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It was then I noticed a second family of geese near the dense, still-dead swamp grass.  They were headed to the water for swimming lessons.  I figured it was my lucky day, though I’d have been a tad luckier had I arrived a few minutes earlier, as I might have had two gaggles of geese and a double dose of cute goslings for my post.

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I took a few more pictures, stepped back onto the perimeter path and fed some of my furry pals, then heard some commotion.  I turned around and a crowd was gathering by the goose family.

THE CROWD LINDA

I watched some of these folks from afar as they stepped off the path and onto the grass toward the family.  The gander hissed, but there was no wing flapping.  Someone had brought food for the geese – bread perhaps – something in tidbits which could be thrown out.  By then, both the male and female were hissing, and the babies – what do you think they were doing?

HISSY FIT LINDA.jpg

Well, if your kid is eating his veggies and someone offers up a chocolate chip cookie, those veggies are going to be abandoned in favor of a cookie in a heartbeat.  Those goslings took off running, er … waddling, toward the bread, eager to abandon the grass they had just been grazing on.

GOSLINGS ONLY GOOD FINAL LINDA

When I uploaded the photos later and realized I cut the top of the gosling’s head off, I was disappointed, but I’m using it anyway – it shows his (or her) exuberance at seeing the treats.

GOSLING TRIO LINDA.jpg

The goslings’ parents had calmed down somewhat and did not take any of the tidbits for themselves, but had a watchful eye over their babies the entire time.  That sudden intrusion of humans on the little clan gave me an opportunity for more photos, though I still hung back, thinking that the parents will remember this interaction, and I don’t want them associating me with it a few weeks from now, and charging after me.  Now, you might scoff at that idea, but hear me out.  A few years ago I brought a couple of bags of bread for the geese, and, there I was amidst a gaggle of them, throwing out yeasty tidbits and feeling at peace with nature … that is, until I got to the bottom of the second bag.  The geese who were fed waddled off, but about a dozen newcomers who missed out on the treat, came after me.  Yikes!  Suddenly this girl was not giggling over the gaggle of geese, but sprinting for her life to merge into a group of walkers.  Yup – I learned my lesson that day and I’ve never brought treats for the Canada geese since.

Even after the crowd departed, Mom and Dad were still having a hissy fit.  I did take some additional photos, without the pesky park bench being in the way, and this was my favorite as they walked away, perhaps for a swim with their brethren.  Guess they don’t follow the wait-for-an-hour-after-you-eat-to-go-swimming rule.

Well goslings … goodbye for now.

BYE BYE.jpg

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Now, it’s time to return to the robin family in Richmond, Virginia.  As you know from two prior posts, my friend Evelyn has faithfully documented the robin family since they built the nest, then laid the eggs, and the emergence of the hatchlings.

Maybe it was her newfound “grandmother instincts” settling in, but Evelyn fussed over the trio of chicks like a mother hen.  She called the vet to see if she could get something for the babies’ diet to supplement what the parents brought, but the vet said the chicks would be fine and not to worry.

The vet was right.  As you see below, Mama Robin arrived, as if on cue, beak open to drop some grub into one of those hungry mouths.

mama robin FEEDING 05-11-18

Slowly but surely, those helpless and scrawny babies born last week are starting to look more like robins.  The size of their beaks just amazes me and I’ve remarked to Evelyn “when will they grow into their beaks?”  They remind me a little of Daffy Duck in these photos.  I love that they are already clamoring for food and today one chick had an eye open.  Evelyn says the parents are leaving the nest more to retrieve nourishment to feed their young.  The following photos are from each of the past four days:

05-09-18

05/09/18

05-10-18

05/10/18

05-11-18

05/11/18

05-12-18

05/12/18

This last picture, I would like to caption: “Hi Mom, I’m awake and I see you, so I’m opening my mouth so you can just drop in a few grubs and meal worms, okay?”

Isn’t nature grand?

As I finish up this post, I am thinking about the episode this week where the red-winged blackbird, attacked the robin sitting on her nest.  That blackbird was way bigger, but the Mama Robin fought that red-winged blackbird, who likely wanted to steal the eggs or babies from the nest.  That mom was devoted to her young, hatched or still in the shell.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world.

It knows no law, no pity.

It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

~Agatha Christie

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