It was a glorious Friday here in Southeast Michigan, despite the frosty temperature this morning. The sun put in an early appearance, busting through the clouds with a big burst of energy and bathing the Earth in a warm glow. Have you noticed how the days are getting longer and sunrise is noticeably earlier these days? While we’re not speeding toward Summer just yet, it sure makes this tail end of January more tolerable.
I left earlier than usual to take the car for a spin before I landed at Council Point Park. The rest of the walkers may not be back in the swing of things, but I am, and the squirrels are too. (I knew those little critters would come around eventually.)
Although I never saw any humans or squirrels on Wednesday, my first day back to Council Point Park, yesterday, I spied a pair of them up in a tall tree peering over the side of their nest at me. Ahh – a sign of life! I pulled the Ziploc bag of peanuts from my jacket pocket and rattled it as I usually do, and sure enough, those two squirrels began a quick descent to ground level.
Today I similarly enticed a squirrel from his perch in a tall tree. But, he was a tougher customer for some reason. He eyed me suspiciously at first, and, I had to keep shaking the Ziploc bag to lure him down. He must have been a newbie at the Park since he was so wary.
It was only about 27 degrees at that time, and, even though I was wearing mittens that flip back to fingerless gloves, my patience was getting a wee bit thin as my fingertips started feeling frozen. There I stood, holding the camera in one hand, and the open bag of peanuts in the other, looking a little like a fool, and wishing he would hurry up. But instead, he kept stopping to scrutinize me while flicking his tail vigorously at each “rest stop” as he travelled down that tree. I wanted to tell him “ya snooze, ya lose” but I just used his reticence as a photo opportunity, as he picked his way carefully down through the bare branches.
When he finally arrived at ground level, he was wearing a look of disdain as if to say “I’m here – where are the peanuts please?” I tipped the bag over and poured some out onto the asphalt path, since my other hand still held onto the camera. He wasn’t very sociable, so I moved along, eager to put the camera back in its case and jam my ice-cold hands into my jacket pockets.
But having the camera and my hands tucked away was short-lived. The Ecorse Creek is still frozen over and devoid of ducks, and there were no crows today, but, I did see a flash of scarlet in the brush and discovered a sweet Downy Woodpecker drilling into a thin sapling. His head with its vibrant red patch gave him away, but his little body was nearly a blur since he was so intent on boring into that wood. I moved in closer to him, but, by the time I fumbled with the mittens, camera and my still-frozen fingertips, I must have startled him and he disappeared into the brush.
All too soon it was time to leave, and, as I headed back to the car I was thinking that I may have missed out on an extra mile of walking due to fiddling with photos and peanuts, but the peace and solitude of being one with Mother Nature’s gifts on a mid-Winter day gleaned more than those few measly steps would have.