Image and copyright by Rodney Campbell:
It was gloomy looking, but I high-tailed it out the door as soon as it was light, since rain is in the forecast for today and the next four days. It is two steps forward and one step backward for walking this Spring. I can’t get much past three miles daily due to the weather. I decided to take a quick trip down to the Park. When I left, it was a bit windy and barely above freezing – brrrrr. The sky was a mottled gray and the clouds hung so low that I thought if I stood on tiptoes I could touch them. Today is Opening Day for our Tigers, with first pitch at 1:08 and the weather folks say the players will get the entire game in – still not sure by the look of those rain clouds though.
I rounded the last corner before arriving at the Park and the daffodils gave me a nod – they were bent over and fully flared out since the last time I saw them.
An angry-looking Robin Redbreast also acknowledged my presence with a steely glare for no apparent reason, but that’s a robin for you – always with a chip on its shoulder.
I came bearing gifts, and, as I walked up to the entrance of the Park, four squirrels came scampering over … momentarily I felt badly that I had not brought some peanuts, because two of them jumped on the toes of my shoes, and I knew that an apple was not what they were looking for. Shame on me.
I toted a bag of apples and they were quite heavy. I had a crisper full of “Cuties” and “Sweeties” – clementines and those sweet and tangy apples. I kept reaching for the clementines instead, really meaning to eat the apples, which were now old and not so appetizing to look at. I was thinking my mom would probably chastise me for wasting food, as she would have surely whipped up an apple dapple cake or even applesauce.
I placed four small apples in a row and stood back. While those squirrels sniffed appreciatively, there were no takers and they ran back to my feet, and once again I felt guilty … and guiltier because those apples were a little withered and wrinkled up. There was another pass to sniff again, and one enterprising fella sought the best of the bunch and grabbed it between his teeth and ran down the middle of the path. I offloaded another half-dozen or so along the way, and though the squirrels were curious, clearly they were waiting for better goodies.
I crumpled up the bag at the last stop and proclaimed “all gone” and moved on. I turned around and had a trio of squirrels following me and I wished I had my camera, then remembered that I cannot pepper my blog posts with squirrel photos too often – they all start to look alike after all, and, anyway it might bore my readers. Smile.
As I kept moving I saw a beautiful Red-Winged Blackbird alight on a tall reed which was wiggling a little in the wind. They are rather large birds, and as he soon as he landed, the reed bent down with his weight. He repositioned himself and started to sing – it was a warble worth stopping for, so I stopped dead in my tracks. He sang for about a minute, never pausing, then cut it off suddenly. I figured that was my cue, so I responded with a whistle or two of my own. My whistling efforts were not even half as good as his, so he started again, and I watched that mouth open, and his throat, like bellows, while he belted out a tune, all the while wobbling on the tall reed. I felt like clapping for his songfest, but instead I told him “very very pretty” just like I tell Buddy when he has serenaded me with a particularly long and cheerful song. He stopped singing, so I moved along, but he would not tolerate that. He flew off the reed and well ahead of me to a low tree branch. I stopped again and marveled at his singing … I had a real close-up look at him and again wished I had brought my camera, and hoped that my photographer pal Rodney Campbell had a nice photo of a Red-Winged Blackbird, which he did, as you see pictured above.
I whistled back, then told him I had to go and turned on my heel and went back to the perimeter path. Undaunted by my dismissive behavior, he flew ahead of me once again, and I’d probably miss him in the tree, but for his military-looking red and yellow stripes on each black shiny wing. This has happened to me with other birds in the Park before, most recently the cute little Downy Woodpecker, that I almost took home as a brother for Buddy. Pfft … and people sling around the term “bird brain”.
My last stop of the day was going past the makeshift memorial for Sergeant Donald Di Pietro that is located at the big spruce tree. Last week I noticed that someone had staked a cone with yellow tulips and delicate red flowers between the U.S. and U.S.M.C. flags and the memorial wreath. I was happy to see the stiff winds we had over the weekend did not scatter those delicate flowers throughout the area.
Just before exiting the Park, I looked beyond the path and saw groups of Sweetie apples – yellow, dappled with shades of red, that were lined along on the asphalt waiting for takers, whomever that might be.
I left with a sense of peace … a gloomy gray morning with just smidges of yellow and red infiltrated along the way – the pretty daffodils, a Robin Redbreast, the yellow and red stripes on that Red-Winged Blackbird, and then, those red and yellow flowers … no – make that those gold and scarlet flowers, for those are the official colors of the U.S. Marine Corps.
As I walked up the driveway, even the sun decided to peek through the clouds in a sudden golden beauteous burst through that dull gray canvas and definitely kicking those dark clouds aside.