Harvest time in the ‘hood and at your home.

On a picture-perfect Pure Michigan morning, I decided to forego my trip to the Park and stroll through the ‘hood capturing images of harvest décor to use for this American Thanksgiving post. While strollin’, I was trollin’ for scarecrows.

The last few years, my Thanksgiving posts were a scenario where scarecrows gathered for a holiday feast. In 2019 I told you how those sweet ragamuffins tackled Turkey Day and last year I even gave those guys and gals a moniker and a voice. But, at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll forego that ritual this year and just concentrate on presenting the cutest in the crowd instead.

I’ve always had an affinity for scarecrows. Their whimsical appearance always give me a smile when I see them, from their silly and often-lopsided grins, wispy straw “hair” to the cute costumes with the stuffing poking out their dresses or britches. But scarecrows aren’t scary –that’s a misnomer. If they’re supposed to scare the crows away, I don’t see it … even when they resemble a crow themselves.

The best of the bunch, (in my humble opinion of course), are below.

So … if you’ve scrolled down this far, it’s time to celebrate harvest time in the ‘hood. This homeowner always creates a display featuring his handmade scarecrow surrounded by lots of harvest time goodies. It was the first stop I made.

For the homeowners who piled huge pumpkins atop straw bales …

… I am sure most weren’t fit to use for carving fancy-schmancy jack-o’- lanterns …

… or making pumpkin pie, as the Fall heat wave would have surely pureed the guts of those gourds.

Folks may enjoy their turkey and trimmings today, but will be sure to save room for a slice (or two) of pumpkin pie. It seems this mischievous munchkin also loves pumpkin … behold the chunks he has chomped in this pumpkin.

He was gnawing at it when I happened by. “Oh good – this will be a cute picture” I thought. But he took his pumpkin chunk “to go” running lickety-split up the nearest tree. I said “you can come back down dear – it’s not MY pumpkin!” But he taunted me and stayed up top – who could resist taking a photo of this angelic-looking face?

Whether you’re a nibbler like our little buddy here, or you gobble ‘til you wobble, enjoy the day. Click here for a special Thanksgiving greeting.

Posted in holiday, Thanksgiving, Harvest time,, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 52 Comments

(S)talkin’ Turkey!  #Wordless Wednesday  #The bird is the word.

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

Click here please.

Posted in holiday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Morning meander and a mishmash of images …

… on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

It was a picture-perfect morning on Saturday, September 11, 2021, mirroring the early a.m. weather on that fateful day exactly 20 years before.

I decided to visit Ford Field Park and head to the Rouge River Gateway Trail in Dearborn, Michigan after a quick, one-mile walk at Council Point Park to feed my furry and feathered friends. I aimed to clear my head of cobwebs and also to bulk up my walking miles.

The Dearborn venue was a good choice as it was Day #1 of the “Old Car Festival” at Greenfield Village (rebranded “The Henry Ford” in 2003 – most people still call it “Greenfield Village”), so I was sure to spot a Tin Lizzy or two rolling along Michigan Avenue enroute to this Festival, as the event is just a stone’s throw away from the Gateway Trail. One day I hope to visit this annual fun and historical event, where owners of hundreds of vintage vehicles, circa 1890s through 1932, travel across the country to congregate. The atmosphere is similarly vintage with period costumes and even food and games reminiscent of a bygone era. This event is really a big deal in Dearborn, so it seemed appropriate to top off my journey with a visit to the estate where Henry Ford and his wife Clara lived for over thirty years.

I visited the Ford Manor on three occasions in 2021, so over the Winter I’m going to spin those photos into a few posts … there is lots to see, especially if you love old architecture, a bounty of flowers and a picturesque view of the Rouge River. I went to view the blooming lilacs in the Spring, the rose garden at its peak mid-Summer and on this particular day, I photographed multiple flower gardens and the buildings. I visited once in 2019 and had a treasure trove of photos, but the mansion and various buildings on the property have been undergoing renovation since 2014; there was outside scaffolding present in many of the photos, so I have better photos with no obstructions now, so stay tuned.

A journey through Downtown Dearborn and into the woods.

I parked the car at Ford Field Park. There was a nip to the morning air, a subtle reminder that Fall was not far off, despite a prediction for temps to climb to near 90F (32C) over the next few days. Unfortunately I overdressed and within fifteen minutes my hoodie was looped around my waist.

On my 10-mile road trip here, I had been listening to a recap of the events that transpired 20 years before, on September 11, 2001. The sky was similarly bright blue, the sun was shining, just like that morning, a late Summer day that began so beautifully and seemingly normal, yet ended so tragically.

After a quick stop at the wooden covered bridge to peer at the roiling Rouge River from either side ….

… I then walked up Brady Street, and, by 8:46 a.m. – the time of the first strike into the World Trade Center, I passed this house with a huge American flag. I stopped to take a photo from the right side.

I took another photo from the left side as there was quite a breeze. The homeowners’ entire front lawn consisted of wildflowers and several tall sunflowers seemed to secure the flag as the breeze stirred it gently.

Once out of the ‘hood, I headed along the usual route, crossing the overlook where the now-closed Andiamo restaurant, shuttered as a result of the pandemic, juts out. The venue at this primo location will now re-open in May 2022 as “Boardwalk Eateries” a 24-hour establishment which will feature many types of ethnic food in various stalls, a cigar bar, a speakeasy and conference rooms for meetings.

I was looking at the scenery when out of the corner of my eye, I saw an antique car rolling down Michigan Avenue; I fumbled getting the camera ready and managed to get this shot.

Too bad my view of the highway was gone now that I’d be entering the woods.

On the Trail in the shady woods, the mosquitoes were horrible! Thankfully I was wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, but the little buggers mercilessly honed in on my hands, neck and face – yikes! I returned home with a mild sunburn and mosquito bites galore.

As I walked along the Trail, dribs and drabs of color perked up the forest floor.

I stayed on course, eager to get out of the woods and far away from these annoying, biting creatures and in the distance I could see an opening. Yay! Meanwhile, I racked my brains trying to think if there was another route to take back to the car from the Estate, but couldn’t come up with a Plan B.

Suddenly, in the still morn I heard a noise, a birdcall I was unfamiliar with. I looked up, then against my better judgment, I traipsed off the Trail and headed through the brush to investigate (thus inviting a few more mosquitoes to feast on me in the process).

In the end it was worth the effort AND the mosquito bites. I’m no birder, but this was a first for me and it wasn’t even on my “Birdie Bucket List” so I eagerly took a ton of shots, lest this bird should fly away. So was that sound a mating call? Or was it shrieking in fear from the tall stranger who gawked at it, then lingered on, lurking in its personal zone? Who knows, but I spooked it and it flew across the narrow Rouge River to safer territory.

Dejected by the bird’s rebuff, I returned to the Gateway Trail and crossed the picturesque walkway; it is still the Rouge River here, just calmer and not churning.

Just moments later I heard another birdcall. Through the bushes I saw its mate, or maybe a pal, but likely it was the same bird as it glared at me intensely. Naturally, there were more photos. I’ll keep you guessing and the mystery bird will appear in this week’s Wordless Wednesday post.

I went to the Fairlane/Ford Estate and walked around the grounds. It was peaceful and I was the only one there.

Not quite the “Motor City” … but motoring along nevertheless.

I headed back to the car, once again meandering along Michigan Avenue, where most businesses were flying the flag at half-mast – this huge flag was flapping in the breeze.

All the while I was eyeballing that busy street for antique vehicles. Well I hit pay dirt as one zipped past me, then pulled into nearby Westborn Market’s parking lot. I crossed the street to get a shot of that vintage car, then the owners came out toting a few bags of ice. I said I was going to wait and take a few shots as they pulled away. They both smiled and gave me a toot on that rather tinny horn, which reminded me of my tricycle horn, a very long time ago.

While I was at the Market I got shots of the many mums they had in the parking lot, which I used for a Wordless Wednesday post back on September 29th.

Posted in nature, September 11th, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

You say “goodbye” and I say “hello, hello, hello.”  #Wordless Wednesday  #Ships that pass … 

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, walk, walking | Tagged , | 38 Comments

I wanna be that gull, er …

… gal!

Last November, I was bopping along the Bishop Park boardwalk and, in between photo sessions with the seagulls, I met an interesting person. You may remember I wrote about our encounter, as this petite older woman left me in awe and gave me cause to pause about MY own morning walking regimen once I reached the age of 90.

The chit-chat occurred after we were strolling in opposite directions on a brisk and windy Saturday morning. We were about to approach each other when a mighty gust of wind looked like it might send us over the railing into the Detroit River. We both clutched our wool hats with a free hand at the identical time, while our opposite hand gripped a walking stick and camera respectively.

After that hefty gust subsided, I quipped “I’ve been there – I’ve lost a few hats down at the park where I walk – they go airborne. I watched one cartwheel across the snow and right into the depths of the murky Ecorse Creek and one sailed off my head and hooked onto a branch over the Creek, so both were gone forever!”

Having dealt with the wily wind gust, we each lost momentum in our walks so we chatted for a few more minutes. I learned she was a widow, had just celebrated her 90th birthday and she made a round trip from her senior apartment building down to the River’s edge every morning. Once at Bishop Park, she walked the entire length of the boardwalk three times before heading home. Whenever it was hot or wintry weather, she had a Plan B and simply walked along Van Alstyne Street which runs parallel to the River. It is tree-lined in the Summer and always plowed and salted in the Winter.

That morning we discovered we had a few things in common, including that she and her late husband had also lived in Lincoln Park and enjoyed a daily walk at my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. We learned we had several mutual acquaintances who were once parishioners at the now-shuttered St. Henry Church, also in Lincoln Park.

As we parted, I told her I admired her stamina and willingness to walk all-year around and hoped to be similarly enjoying a walking regimen when I was ninety and she replied “you will be dear.”

As I walked to the car that morning, I knew I would be writing about our conversation and wished that even if I hadn’t asked to take her photo to enhance the post, I should have at least asked her name.

Fast forward to August 2021

On August 4th, a warm and muggy morning, I made an early stop to enjoy the cool breeze down at the Detroit River and stroll along the Bishop Park boardwalk, camera in tow.

There were the usual items of interest along the way …

Ring-billed Gull at the Bishop Park boardwalk.
Bishop Park with the senior apartments in the background.
I asked this young man to pose with his fish, but the fish
flip-flopped and landed on its head. (Ouch!)
He was happy to pose, then threw the fish back into the water.
Dad likewise got a fish and threw it back.
These fishermen were hoping for bigger fish to fry.
This sleepy gull is molting – molting wears birds out.
A feather was caught in a spider web beneath the gull
(who woke up when I approached it).
A close-up of the feather caught in the web.
If you squint, you can see the intricate web.

I walked along the wooden pier that juts out over the River and chatted with a couple of guys, who, just like me, whined about the heat and humidity and incessant stormy weather.

It’s peaceful on the pier, just like the Boardwalk.
Inquisitive Non-breeding Ring-billed Gull.
Attentive Non-breeding Ring-billed Gull.

While enroute to the boardwalk to return to my car, I checked out the kayak launch, sometimes a gathering spot for waterfowl, but those Mallards were MIA. Then I glanced over and there she was –the nonagenarian walker. I snapped a photo of her as she hurried along, but wait … she was using a rolling walker. Hmm – I was sure it was her though.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

She was moving pretty quickly.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.
Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

I finally caught up with her and asked “do you remember me from last November?” “Why yes I do” she replied. We walked together, chatting amicably as if we were old friends. This time I asked her name. I learned it was Joanne and I told her my name. I remarked on her new “wheels” and she explained she had taken a bad fall, broken her glasses and it was suggested she use a rolling walker going forward, especially for her morning excursions along the Riverfront.

I asked if I could take her picture and told her briefly about my blog. Unfortunately this spry walker is not on social media, or I would have sent along the photos and this post.

Joanne on the Bishop Park boardwalk.

I walked three lengths of the boardwalk with Joanne and then it was time for her to leave, so we parted. I told her I’d been to Bishop Park several times over the Winter and Spring and always looked for her, hoping to rekindle our conversation and she smiled. “See ya around” I called out and once again I told myself that when I reach my 90s, “I wanna be that gal!”

P.S. – I went to Bishop Park last Saturday hoping to see Joanne to wish her a happy birthday but we did not cross paths.

Posted in nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments

Faerie Garden or Gnome Man’s Land? #Wordless Wednesday

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

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“All gave some, some gave all.”

The above quote in the title of this post is attributed to Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Howard William Osterkamp from Dent, Ohio. In honor of Veteran’s Day this coming Thursday, I am straying from my usual type of post to write about the Wall that honors the Vietnam War vets.

Back in 1977, I spent a long weekend in Washington, D.C. On the plane trip home, I realized I should have allotted a few more vacation days, as there simply wasn’t enough time to see all the usual tourist sites, let alone the Smithsonian Museums. I always told myself I’d return to Washington, D.C. someday, but as time marched on, (even more quickly as I’ve gotten older), I know there are other bucket list venues I’d like to visit first.

So, when “The Wall that Heals”, a traveling Vietnam War Memorial, was slated to be in nearby Riverview (Michigan), I seized the opportunity to visit that exhibit in case I never made it back to D.C. The Wall is 3/4s of the size of the permanent Wall that was built in 1982 in Washington, D.C. This is one of two replica Walls that travel around the U.S. The other Wall replica is called “The Moving Wall” and has been crisscrossing the U.S. for two decades. Like the original Wall, this exhibit was open 24/7 with lights lining the top, so people were able to pay their respects at any time.

The stats are staggering.

The Wall honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War; unbelievably, there were 58,276 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam and each and every one of their names is listed on the Wall (plus 5 – there are actually 58,281 names on the Wall). There are 140 numbered panels made of Avonite, a synthetic granite and those panels are supported by an aluminum frame.

Some more stats …

160 Medal of Honor recipients on the Wall
42 sets of brothers on the Wall
3 sets of fathers and sons on the Wall
8 women, all nurses, on the Wall
16 Chaplains on the Wall
15 years old, the youngest service member on the Wall
62 years old, the oldest service member on the Wall
22 years, 9 months old, the average age of service members on the Wall

1,500 service members unaccounted for
246 casualty deaths in one day: January 31, 1968
400,000 items left at the Wall
704 names on the largest panel; 5 names on the shortest panel

Service Branches on the Wall:
65.6 % Army; 25.5% Marine Corp; 4.4% Navy, 4.4% Air Force and .01% Coast Guard

I arrived early on Saturday morning, August 14th to avoid the crowds, but truthfully I needn’t have worried about a jam-packed event, because I had no idea how large this outdoor exhibit really was, a truly sad reminder of just how many American lives were lost in the Vietnam War.

As was the case here in SE Michigan for a significant portion of the Summer and Fall, the ever-mischievous Mother Nature had her way with the Wall memorial site, providing still another torrential weather event, yielding 2.73 inches of rain Wednesday into Thursday morning and then she added a stormy night for good measure. Over 3/4s of a million DTE customers in SE Michigan lost power which messed up many of the traffic signals enroute to the event.

It was the third day in residence for the Wall and the field was still soggy, (mostly muddy but straw was strewn over the muddiest areas), but that didn’t deter attendees from pausing to reflect and remember, many with tears in their eyes, or openly weeping, some placing flowers or a flag at the base of a particular segment of the Wall.

The Wall memorial was at Young Patriot’s Park in Riverview, Michigan. I’ve been to this park before. It has a small pond and fountain, though the pond is more ornamental and without waterfowl. A heron happened by and was spooked by my presence and took off.

Young Patriot’s Park has a small circular walking track, but its main attraction is not the water feature, nor perimeter path, but instead is known for the permanent patriotic display to honor the City’s fallen heroes from all factions and in various conflicts. Brave service personnel are honored here, not only by the Fallen Soldier statue, but also in the path of memorial bricks, each bearing a fallen service person’s name.

Here are some photos of the permanent memorial at this park.

As I pulled into the park, it was stunning to see rows and rows of flags flapping in the breeze. The flags circled the small pond and along nearby Sibley Road and up and down the area leading to the memorial which was NOT within the confines of Young Patriot’s Park.

I parked the car and gazed into the distance. I could see the Wall stretched forever. There were many booths where you could see and hear info on the Wall and there was a display of artifacts from the Vietnam War.

I saw many Vietnam veterans wearing hats that identified them as such and there were volunteers to answer questions. The Wall is organized so that there are three panels to indicate the three deadliest days in the Vietnam War. Some of the deaths were noted as to those who died from their injuries after returning home. I am glad I stopped by as it was quite moving. A few veterans locked arms and were weeping and I misted up seeing them. I am old enough to remember the Vietnam War, though none of my friends served. Two neighbor boys were wounded, but both survived. I originally intended to use the Wall pics for Wordless Wednesday, but at the last minute put everything in one post, so if you’re still here, thanks for hanging in here until the end.

Posted in Veterans Day,, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 46 Comments

Murder She Wrote.   #Wordless Wednesday  #Counting Crows.  #A murder of crows in the ‘hood.

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 65 Comments

“Trick or treat …

Who is that masked man, er … squirrel?

… smell my feet …

Parker makes no bones about sniffing my shoe.
My favorite peanut pal … always sweet, sometimes spooky.

… gimme something good to eat!”

M&Ms: They melt in your mouth, not in your paw.

The phrase above was the cry uttered by my childhood friends and me, circa late 50s/early 60s, as we crowded together “begging” at homeowners’ doors along Sandmere Place, in Oakville, Ontario, where I spent my formative years.

The alternative call for candy was “shell out, shell out – the witches are out!”

I may have used the latter phrase, though I don’t recall donning a witch costume for Halloween. I vaguely remember those hard plastic masks accompanied by flimsy, satiny-type costumes, usually worn over heavy coats as climates were chilly, if not frosty, in Southeast Ontario by October 31st. I remember wearing costumes for Casper the Friendly Ghost and Snow White. One year I went as Little Red Riding Hood and it rained buckets – my red satin cape stained my new Winter coat and I dragged the plastic tote bag along the gravel road, creating a massive hole in the bottom, resulting in NO goodies that year.

Once I reached school age, our teachers passed out UNICEF collection canisters in the hope that our Halloween begging for candy also resulted in those same neighbors dropping coins into the canister to benefit the United National International Children’s Emergency Fund, which organization helped provide emergency aid to children around the world.

Mom stayed home to pass out candy on our porch. As a youngster I went out trick-or-treating with my father. We always stayed in the ‘hood as it was a large circular street. The houses were fairly close together, but had lots of property out front, so Dad would wait at the end of each driveway and I’d run up to each house.

Sometimes I’d see my neighborhood pals and we’d peer into one another’s plastic tote bags to check out the “loot” such as Smarties (similar to M&Ms), bags of Maltesers (malted milk balls) and yummy-tasting Coffee Crisp or Kit Kat bars. These delicious wafer bars always made the “cut” though Mackintosh’s Toffee, sticky and guaranteed to pull out your baby teeth, was always apprehended by the “Candy Police” a/k/a Mom.

Some neighbors were purists who handed out Jersey Milk chocolate bars. In Canada, we call them “chocolate bars” not “candy bars” and Jersey Milks are milk chocolate, devoid of nuts or fruit and comparable to the American Hershey’s candy bar. Jersey Milk also came in bite-sized swirly kisses called Jersey Buds. Jersey Milk anything were keepers. There were popcorn balls and apples too. Mom went through my “haul” and any apples were set aside for apple pie if there were enough. Those sticky peanut butter kisses encased in orange or black waxy wrappers were tossed out, as were candy cigarettes. My parents were strict about eating candy, so I got to pick a few treats that night and the rest were put away to be doled out in small increments.

Through the years, I’ve lamented that no photos were taken of me on Halloween, despite the fact my parents documented me posing at every holiday and tons of times in between holidays. Because I was an only child, many images fill the family albums, ranging from black-and-white to Kodachrome, thanks to Mom’s Baby Brownie, then Dad’s Leica 35mm camera respectively.

Ahh – not all memories were captured on film, but those memories in my head, just like the goodies, hearken back to sweeter and simpler times.

Flash forward more than a few decades.

As I wrote in Monday’s post “Autumn: Amble on!” I went to Council Point Park on October 17th to walk and also celebrate Halloween with my furry pals. This is an annual event for us and I am not sure who enjoys it more – them or me. However, I usually buy a few net bags of mini pumpkins, wait for the trees to turn vibrant shades, then take the camera for some (hopefully) cute shots. Well, I hesitated placing the pumpkins and peanuts along the Park perimeter path because of the hawks circling above, plus Mother Nature’s timeline for leaf loveliness was all off. So, I made trail mix instead and didn’t hear any complaints.

So, sit back and enjoy a little frivolity with my furry friends – the world needs to have more fun and frivolity these days and this gives me an opportunity to fulfill the “WHIMSY” portion of my blog’s title. At the end of the photos you’ll find a special greeting.

You don’t have to be a sleuth to know squirrels do have a sweet tooth.

I made up my trail mix and you may recall I treated the squirrels and birds to some trail mix last Winter and they loved it. So, I gathered my ingredients and made two batches – one for them, one for me. I added almonds and pistachios to their trail mix. I find whole almonds too hard for my teeth so I use slivered almonds for me instead of whole almonds.

The ingredients.
Some for me; some for my furry friends.

Once at the Park I scattered half the mother lode of goodies under the Safe Haven Tree where they could nibble to their heart’s content while the weeping branches help protect them from predators. But the huge leaves made it too dark beneath the tree.

They discovered the goodies later.
“The Safe Haven Tree” at Council Point Park.

Under the pavilion are picnic tables. In the early Fall of 2020 the City removed the tables from all parks due to COVID protocol. I hope they keep them there all Winter this year as I’ve fed the squirrels and birds here throughout the Winter in the past. I laid everything out on the picnic table.

Droppings … something for everyone.
What will be the biggest draw?

At this time, a pair of Mallards (that you met in my last post) saw me and wandered up the Ecorse Creek banks, but they had no space to fly over/up, so they turned around and left (with much disdain for me – trust me). I already had the camera out, so let the watch party begin!

Gotta give the goodies the sniff test first!

Sometimes you feel like a nut

sometimes you don’t.

Candy is dandy, but nuts rule! Here’s a Halloween greeting for you – just click here.

[M&M snack pack image f/Pinterest]

Posted in Halloween, holiday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 73 Comments

Grinning like a Cheshire cat.  #Wordless Wednesday  #1,122 of 1,256 mi./1,806 of 2,021 km.

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, goal, Uncategorized, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 58 Comments