Another weekend; another park.

bench closeup

Whew – well it was a hot and sticky morning once again.  I left early, but, unlike in mid-Summer when I try to beat the oppressive heat and humidity by leaving long before the sun is out full strength, Ol’ Man Sun is lazy these days and sleeps in later, so I can’t enjoy those cooler early morning temps.

The sky was flawless, with not even a whisper of a wind when I set out.  I decided to head over to Lion’s Park after I finished a short walking stint at Council Point Park, just to change things up a bit, plus to continue my theme of visiting different local parks.   So, after only one go-around, I headed over to Lion’s Park, which is like a miniaturized version of Council Point Park.

bench

It has an asphalt trail, which runs along the Ecorse Creek and is pretty and picturesque in some places, like this one, with its little peekaboo feature.

park

There is a woodsy feeling as you stroll along, but no chance to walk near the water,  unless you go right down to the Creek’s shoreline, thus, there are fewer glimpses of waterfowl.  There are very few squirrels to interact with, and no geese are walking around giving you a piece of their mind.  But, to me, it is like an extension of Council Point Park, so I had a double-dose of nature nooks this morning.

There’s the expression of  arriving at a fork in the road and what path to take, but what about a fork in a tree?  If you check out the pair of trees in the photo below, you’ll see they both look like giant slingshots.  I wonder if I am the only one who sees a slingshot, or a wishbone, when looking at that pair of trees, or that these two trees list just a little to the right?

lean on me - fork in the road and tree

It’s an imperfect world for humans, and critters, and apparently that is true for trees as well.

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Hello Fummer, er Sall, … er, make that Fall!

09-22-17

Meteorologically speaking, Fall officially arrived here in Michigan today at 4:02 p.m.  The weatherman said that Summer is working overtime.  I agree, so perhaps we should call these next few wickedly hot days “Fummer” or “Sall” – what do you think?

The calendar says September 22nd is Fall and Oregon is already shoveling snow.  While I don’t love this heat wave, it’s better to have heat and humidity than snow (in my humble opinion anyway).

I decided to take the car for a spin to Council Point Park to arrive there extra early to get my walk in before it got too warm.  It seems everyone else had the same idea.  The weather is always a common topic for the walkers, and this latest heat wave, just like the chilly weather we had a few weeks ago, created a lot of chatter.  An informal poll amongst walkers revealed that people loved the cooler weather and this heat and humidity not so much.  If there were no crumpled leaves littering the asphalt pathway or occasional glimpses of red or yellow-tinged trees scattered throughout the Park, I’d swear it was mid-Summer.

I did four miles today and called it quits with rivulets of sweat dripping from my brow.  As I pulled into the driveway, my car odometer registered 4,500 miles and my car will be eight years old tomorrow.  I have 685 miles walked so far this year and 70 more miles to go to meet my goal.  Quite honestly, the 31st of December seems far away since I am writing this blog post and can hear the strains of the ice cream man’s truck as he travels down the street on this very hot first day of Fall.

I’ll leave you with this quote:  Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.  It’s what the sunflowers do – Helen Keller

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Buggy, muggy, soggy and foggy.

09-20-17

Well, those were the conditions as I set out on my walk this morning.  It sure wasn’t too inviting, but rain wasn’t present, nor was it in the forecast, so off I went.  Besides, who wants to complain about our weather when you hear what is going on elsewhere in the world.  Between the hurricanes and the earthquake, I guess we can endure a little sogginess and fogginess in our lives.

The sidewalks were wet as I wended my way to Council Point Park, and I don’t know if that was from the rain yesterday, or the extreme dew.  The grass was sopping wet.  Each tree seemed saturated with moisture and shed droplets from their leaves when I walked underneath.  Occasionally, a big fat splat dropped onto my arm.  The humidity brought out the mosquitoes as well, and they were all abuzz, looking for a warm body to land on – miraculously I remained unscathed by any bug bites.

I wanted to make myself visible in this misty morn.  A few years ago, after finishing up negotiations for a new contract with a local union, my boss and I were presented with some union swag – not just pocket protectors and pens, or a few buttons, but tee-shirts emblazoned with their union logo on them.  So, on this very misty morning, I wore my Cement Masons Local #514 neon-yellow tee-shirt, and, when paired with black pants, I must have looked like a giant highlighter.  That’s okay because that way, the drivers can see me walking down the street in the mist, plus my shirt lights up like a beacon for the Park squirrels to find me.  After all, those furry critters should be mindful it is almost Autumn and they should be gathering peanuts to tuck away for the long Winter ahead.

The Park in the mist holds a little mystique, because, even if you detest spiders as much as I do, you can’t help but admire their intricate handiwork which was accentuated by the dew drops.   I marveled at those webs, as long as some hidden strands didn’t drop down out of nowhere and plaster their stickiness across my face.

In low-lying places throughout the Park, the geese seemed to be walking on dry ice as a fine mist was swirling around at ground level.  It was eerie indeed.

The leaves are really beginning to litter the walking path, especially those pesky locust trees with their fine yellow leaves scattered about.  And leaves are dotting  the surface of the Ecorse Creek, right next to the pond lilies which still have the occasional blooms.

It may have been buggy, muggy, soggy and foggy, but it wasn’t froggy.  I’m still waiting to find a frog sitting on a lily pad.  Perhaps the Ecorse Creek frogs are finding serenity practicing yoga, as is suggested in this garden stepping stone.

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

I’ve dusted off my semi-regular “Tuesday Musings” post, as it has been a while since it appeared in this blog.  I’m writing today about my dusty treasures and trinkets, discovered as I ravaged through the basement on my cleaning blitz earlier this Summer.

How do you define treasures and trinkets?  They are those small keepsakes that you have held onto through the years, conflicted on whether to part with them, knowing you’ll feel guilty for simply tossing out an item that at one time held meaning, or gave you pleasure.

I hear the horror stories about people faced with the wicked forces of nature, such as wildfires or hurricanes, who must flee their homes without their most-treasured possessions.  I don’t know how they do it … a lifetime of memories gone in a heartbeat.

This box in the basement filled with trinkets and treasures held no real sentimental value, but instead were keepsakes from other eras in my life.

Over the weekend I finished perusing the last of those items I had stuffed into a large box during my initial clean-up phase in the basement.

As many of you longtime followers of this blog know, my New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to restore order to my house this year.  It was a worthwhile, but tiring endeavor, dealing with upstairs, then downstairs, the latter which was neglected and unloved for many years, and had become a catchall for items which made upstairs look messy, so they were relegated to the basement.  That messiness in the basement was pushed over the edge on June 9th when an all-house insulation job and messy contractors left the basement in a shambles.  I could bore you with before and after pictures, but suffice it to say, it was a nightmare.

But, I got myself a shop vac and wore out two broom heads from sweeping with a vengeance, so I no longer have to cringe and make apologies when I take the Flame Furnace tech downstairs for his semi-annual furnace and A/C checks.

That clean-up in the basement took the entire month of July, and I was frazzled by that job and did not want to spend another minute down there, but, I had gathered some items together in a box to give them a “once-over” before deciding whether to toss them or not.

So, I’ve finally made my way through that cardboard box that contained a mishmash of memories and disposed of them accordingly, saving only one item, just like a new year where you exclaim “out with the old, in with the new!”  There was a little angst involved, in what mementoes to keep.  Some gave me cause to pause, and others I said to myself “Linda … really??!!”

Well, many of those trinkets were related to trips taken through the years.

In the early 60s, my father had a job interview in California, so we made a family trip there and visited tourist spots geared for kids like Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and Marineland of the Pacific.  I still had a pink folding comb with an emblem of Bubbles the Whale, the star of the show.  I wonder why I kept it all these years … surely  not for any sentimental value?   If I want to remember that day at Marineland, I need only look at this photo of myself wrinkling my nose after feeding a smelly old fish to an exuberant seal.

Marineland of the Pacific

I traveled to Germany with my father in 1969 and saved all the cardboard coasters featuring the various German beers from the many biergartens we visited in Germany and Bavaria.  At each biergarten, a “sweating” mug of beer for adults, or non-alcoholic apfelwein (cider) for kids was plopped onto a colorful coaster when it arrived at your table.  As a 13-year old, I thought that was pretty “neat” and brought home a stack of those coasters which were still rubber-banded together, yellowed  at the edges and never used.   This image from Pinterest shows you those coasters in their heyday.

beer coasters from pinterest1

In the Summer of 1974 I traveled to Spain with friends of our family.  We went to a show featuring flamenco dancers and I bought a pair of castanets the next day in a marketplace in town.  So, did I buy them because I was inspired by the folk dancers who clacked them noisily while performing their moves, or did I plan on doing some flamenco dancing when I returned from vacation?  I also found a small black furry bull, which was no doubt a souvenir from the one and only bullfight I attended.  I bought some Toledo jewelry as well.  The ring was black with gold flowers but it was dressy and not too practical for everyday wear as a student, and working at the diner on the weekends.

Fast forward to 1981 when I took a week-long American Express land tour of Greece followed by a week-long cruise of the Greek islands, with stops in Cairo, Ephesus (Turkey) and Jerusalem.  I simply had to buy a necklace with my name spelled out in hieroglyphics … like the Toledo jewelry, it didn’t fit in with my work wardrobe, and was a tad touristy-looking once I got back into the daily grind.  Likewise, living in the moment, I just loved the music which you heard in every little Greek village, or every night while on the cruise ship.  Most of the people in our tour group purchased 8-track tapes of that Bouzouki music, and when I returned home from the trip, for months I over-played that tape; it drove my parents crazy.  I still had the tape, but no 8-track player.  Most of the women bought traditional Greek garb, patterned cotton caftans and long dangling wire and beaded earrings to wear aboard the ship at night.  I guess I thought I’d wear these items once I returned home, but nope – they have been folded up and tucked away for decades, only to be thrown away all these years later.

In 1983 I had a three-week excursion with Maupintour through four Scandinavian countries and Russia.  In my mementoes, I found an envelope filled with Russian rubles because our tour guide said “take some of this colorful paper currency home to show your friends and family.”  Plus, a mandatory purchase for everyone who visits Russia is a Matryoshka doll, which you probably know as “Russian nesting dolls” – yup, I had a set of them too.

Maupintour sponsored a photography contest where you could enter the photos you thought best typified your tour.  You had to submit the 8 ½ X 11 matted photos with a description on the back and they were returned to you when the contest was over.  I was interested in photography way back then and had the 35mm camera, special lenses, tripod … the whole nine yards.  I even took photography classes at a local camera shop.  So, after lugging all that heavy camera equipment around for three weeks, I was excited to enter a few of my favorite photos from the trip for the chance at a prize and to see the picture(s) used in future travel brochures.

This was a land tour of Norway, Denmark and Sweden and Finland, then we took a short Baltic Sea cruise to cross from Helsinki to St. Petersburg.  We later travelled by plane from St. Petersburg to Moscow.

As to the photo contest, I was just ecstatic when my photo of an ordinary dairy cow in a Swedish pasture, which I entitled “Tranquility” won first prize!  Well, holy cow!  That was a first for me.

Tranquility Cow

I also won an honorable mention, even though the photo of me was taken by a fellow passenger, but it was recognized as representative of our tour.

This picture was aboard the cruise ship that crossed the Baltic sea from Finland to Russia.

Baltic Sea Cruise

There were other doodads and souvenirs of trips long ago, among them a straw handmade wallet from St. Thomas and a leather coin purse from a bazaar in Colombia, South America.  I should have kept my money I paid for those items, because no money was ever placed into them when I returned home.

Digging further into that box of treasures and trinkets was another photo of some significance.  In 2010, I submitted this picture to “The News-Herald” of a Red Admiral butterfly alighting on one of the cone flowers in my backyard garden.   Our local paper used to have a weekly feature that spotlighted nature photos taken by local amateur photographers.  I scanned it in as best I could, but I have clung onto that newspaper feature page as well.

Butterfly in newspaper

There was a paper trail of tickets and programs from concerts and events attended through the years, the most-interesting event being the King Tut exhibit, “The Treasures of Tutankhamen” at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

King Tut Show

We were visiting my grandmother for her birthday that weekend and my aunt got the advance tickets and went with me … you might recall that back in 1979, you had to physically go buy the tickets in advance for any big show – how different it is now with online sales.

I found the spiral notebook I created when I redid the landscaping from scratch in 1985.  Each page had a hangtag from that tree, flowering shrub or perennial, plus notes on its care which I received from Johnny’s Nursery.  Most of those trees, shrubs and flowers are now gone, as is Johnny’s Nursery.

I discovered a yellowed, folded-up complete Section A of “The Detroit News” commemorating man’s first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969.  I recall my mom read the story, then handed it to me saying “read this and then put it in a safe place as it might be worth something one day.”  So, what does a 13-year old know about saving such important things, except to put them in a box out of sight, and out of mind for all these years.  I now have put that newspaper story into the top drawer of my old cherry wood desk that was relegated to the basement after my status as “student” was officially over.  There’s plenty of room in that old desk now that I cleared out at least three pocket dictionaries, a thesaurus, and a very large Merriam-Webster dictionary, no doubt from my college days.  Who looks things up in the dictionary anymore?  You check at dictionary.com in case you’re not sure after spell-check gives it a whirl.  I remember my parents subscribed to “National Geographic Magazine” for decades, and when they ran out of places to put the old issues, decided to donate them to the local library who refused them since no one every requested that magazine to read or even for term papers.  (Remember term papers before Google?)

I guess I am a “saver” and not a “thrower” … my mom did not hoard memories to become dust catchers or to take up space in the house.  Come to think of it, I never saw my first tooth, a lock of hair or bronzed baby shoes around the house.  And I was an only child!  Hmm.

Rummaging through those treasures and trinkets was a fond look back at my past.  Upstairs, there are many photo albums and scrapbooks reposing in the bottom of a seldom-used closet.  In those pages, mementos and memories have more permanent homes, carefully pasted-in pictures and small items with precisely lettered titles that are still intact on their pages decades later.

I lingered long over that collection of memories and finally let them go into the trash.  But, those mementoes, those tangible items that one time gave me such pleasure are not forgotten because the memories pertaining to them are forever engrained within my soul.

And the one item I saved?  The front-page of the moon landing because it might make me a rich woman one day.

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Seems like old times.

09-16-17

In my recent blog post entitled “Glimpses”, I mentioned the sighting of a raccoon at Council Point Park on my morning walk.  Although I’ve not spotted him (or her) since that day, I won’t give up looking yet.  That post about the raccoon sighting piqued my friend Ann Marie’s interest, and she responded to that post by commenting that she wished she could be walking at Council Point Park and seeing the sights I wrote about.  I replied to her that we should reconnect some time before the snow flies.

This morning we got together to walk around Council Point Park.  Since Ann Marie moved to Southgate in the Spring of 2015, we’ve kept in touch by e-mail mostly, as our walks are now taken in different venues rather than around the perimeter path that we both have so enjoyed.

Ann Marie and I first met in September of 2014 when I had stopped in my tracks, right in the middle of the walking path at Council Point Park.  I had my camera trained on a big fat caterpillar that was slowly inching its way across the asphalt path.  This was no ordinary caterpillar – it was a Woolly Bear caterpillar to be exact, and I was trying to capture its image, especially the black bands on either end of its fuzzy body.

In January of that same year (2014), we added some new terminology to our vocabulary.  “Polar Vortex” was a new description that we tossed around casually after we endured that record-breaking cold spell.  According  to folklore and “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” did you know that studying the appearance of this rust-and-black-colored caterpillar will give you an indication of the weather for the upcoming Winter season?  The Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 rust-colored segments of its body, representing  13 weeks of the Winter Season, so … legend has it that the longer the black endcaps of this caterpillar are, the more severe the Winter.   Yes, it’s folklore, and it’s fun, just like the Groundhog’s prediction every February 2nd.  I don’t remember how that caterpillar looked and the picture, just like that Woolly Bear was fuzzy, but I do know the Winter of 2014-2015 was a brutally cold and excessively snowy season.

You can read about the folklore attached to this Woolly Bear Caterpillar at this link from the National Weather Service:   https://www.weather.gov/arx/woollybear

So, on that September day in 2014, the two of us bent down close to study that caterpillar.  It was easier for Ann Marie, because she is at least a foot shorter than I am.   After the Woolly Bear’s photo was taken, and I told Ann Marie about the meteorological aspect of this bristly critter, we continued along on our walk companionably.  So, a friendship began and we walked together whenever we happened to land on the walking trail at the same time.

Today we did the reconnect and walked along together once again, our mouths going a mile a minute.  We didn’t see that elusive raccoon, but we filled our morning with chatter, a four-mile walk in the Park and a mutual enjoyment of Mother Nature’s offerings that was ours for the taking on this beautiful September morn.

Since we didn’t spot a raccoon to feature with this blog post, I’ve included an image from my artist friend Maggie Rust which she calls “Twins” – so, how about these two peas in a pod?

I’ll leave you with this thought:  “A friend is a gift you give yourself.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 

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Return to Heritage Park.

BRIDGE FAR AWAY

My boss was out of the office today, so I decided to expand my horizons and return to Heritage Park, rather than my regular stomping grounds.

I figured this second visit would involve more walking, and less exploring and picture-taking, since I really immersed myself in the whole experience the last time.  There was just so much to see, but today my head was not swiveling back and forth like the last time, so I could just enjoy the journey instead.

So, on this gorgeous morning, it was easy-peasy getting five miles walked.

I kept the camera in the case most of the time, deciding to rely on some of the photos I took the last trip and didn’t use for that day’s blogpost, but … there was a beautiful hawk soaring high above the Park today and I couldn’t resist taking its picture.

HAWK

On the prior visit, I spent much time admiring and taking photos of the covered bridge.  It was the first time I’d seen one, and I’ve had a fascination with covered bridges since reading the novel “The Bridges of Madison County” and later seeing the film by the same name.

BRIDGE SIDEWAYS

And, if this idyllic scene above with a couple snuggling on the covered bridge and ducks wandering around nearby doesn’t seem peaceful enough, how about this fisherman sitting there aiming to get his catch-of-the-day, despite the fact that the Park’s rules and regs make you throw that fish right back into Coan Lake?

BRIDGE AND FISHERMAN

It was perfect weather for today’s excursion.  My next trip to Heritage Park will be to view the Fall colors, so I’m guessing that visit is another month away perhaps?

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Blue skies … nothing but blue skies.

09-14-17

According to the weatherman, the dregs of Hurricane Irma should have hampered this morning’s walk, so I was pleasantly surprised to see no rain, just huge dark clouds overhead.  They were rather ominous looking, so I grabbed the umbrella before heading out.  After weeks of chilly weather, warmer temps have clawed their way back and it was muggy as well, so I shucked my jacket and looped it around my waist before I was halfway to the Park.

On my mind this morning was reaching 655 miles, leaving me just 100 miles to reach my 2017 goal – all miles thereafter are just gravy, as the expression goes.

By the time I got to Council Point Park, less than one mile away, I was surprised to see the sky was not dark at all at that venue.  In fact, the sky was a beautiful blue, marred only by a single contrail in an otherwise flawless sky.  By the time I finished the first loop, that contrail was a pale image in the sky, soon to be replaced by the largest contingent of Canada Geese I’ve ever seen.  They flew in perfect V-formation and the oddest thing was, had I not been looking up at the sky, I would not have known they were there.  Usually, their incessant honking heralds their arrival, but this flock of geese was so synchronized and soundless, I was in awe of them, and it really was a beautiful scene to behold.

Now, I must set my sights on reaching the final goal and I don’t think it will be that difficult.  The long-range weather forecast has been accurate thus far – a very dry September with cooler temps.  October is supposed to be rainy, but once we get into October, the sun is not around as many hours, so it becomes more difficult to get longer walks accomplished in the morning, or even after work, so those mile-making treks are relegated to the weekend only.

But, I am confident I’ll get ‘er done – now, onward and upward, with stats that are soaring like that plane headed into the wild blue yonder.

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