Today’s weather was just like Nat King Cole crooned about back in the day … yes, those lazy-hazy-crazy days of Summer. If you’ve never heard the song, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOV96BCAvZc
It doesn’t matter that we’ve not turned the calendar page over to June and Summer is still three weeks away. This scorcher today had all the ingredients of a mid-Summer day.
I got up and out the door early to beat that oppressive heat the weather folks were predicting, and, when I left the house around 7:30 a.m., the thermometer hovered at 70 degrees, with 85% humidity and a 65% dew point reading. There was not even a breeze.
I drove ten miles to Elizabeth Park, thinking it might be cooler along the boardwalk, and, besides, I was still in search of those elusive ducklings.
It was a little hazy when I arrived, and, if I thought I would be the only one with the bright idea to be early and stake out a spot by the water, I was very mistaken. As I pulled up, I had to drive halfway along the loop that encircles the entire Elizabeth Park, just to find a parking spot.
I soon discovered that the cars did not belong to the usual crowd of walkers, runners and bicyclists; instead the cars were filled with people who lined the boardwalk and pier area, fishing poles in hand and sturdy buckets nearby, for a morning of fishing. Well, I totally forgot – the silver bass are running in the Detroit River these days!
Young and old, men and women, and even children … they not only ranged in age, but also the type of fishing equipment used as well. Some folks had a simple rod and reel and others had fancier set-ups, which made a clicking noise on the gears when they cast out. While some people stood patiently at the pier, rod in hand, others fastened their fishing pole on the rail, then sat and enjoyed a cold drink with an eye trained on any movement on that pole. More than once I found myself zig-zagging and side-stepping along the boardwalk, when a fisherman raised his arm backward to cast that line with great gusto. Yikes! I didn’t want to get snagged and end up in the Detroit River as overgrown bass bait!
This guy had the perfect sun protection, a head umbrella to shield him from the sun’s rays that were bouncing off the water.
As I ambled along the boardwalk and passed all the ambitious fishermen and women, I watched a young guy land a silver bass. I usually take my people pictures on the sly, but I wanted a photo of him with his fish, so I politely asked if I could take his picture. “Yes” he said and posed for me.
“And, are you throwing your fish back in the water, or having him for dinner tonight?” I asked. “I’m keeping him” was the answer, and the fish was soon dropped into a bucket with the rest of his silver bass booty.
The boardwalk was a hoppin’ place, but other folks seemed content to get away from the crowd, so they fished right along the shoreline.
It was hot on the boardwalk, so I sought shade in the tree-lined portion of Elizabeth Park.
First, I stopped to take a photo of the picturesque bridge with its curved walkway and ornate wrought-iron railings. The bridge’s reflection was almost a mirror image, despite the fact that the sky was hazy.
I had packed treats for the critters – oyster crackers for the ducks and peanuts for the squirrels. The last time I was at Elizabeth Park, I didn’t take peanuts, and I think every squirrel in the Park hit me up for treats and I had nothing to offer them.
I walked down by the water where the ducks usually congregate. No ducks were on shore, but there was one beautiful Pekin duck traveling down the center of the water wearing a big smile. This duck just quacked me up when I saw it. I’ll bet you smiled too, when you saw its picture at the top of this post.
I wandered around, climbing up the bridge, looking for kayakers and there were none, so I chitchatted with a few other walkers about the weather.
By then, the Pekin duck had come ashore and he brought a pal, a mallard hybrid.
Weren’t they lucky ducks because I waited until they waddled over to the sidewalk, then lavished oyster crackers on them which they nibbled on.
I even forgot myself and tossed a few crackers to the goose family that monopolized the pathway.
I quickly realized that was a big mistake when the gander did not mind his manners, lowered his head and started marching toward me. I beat a hasty retreat.
Next, I headed to the path that encircles the entire Park and was grateful for the shade. I walked the entire perimeter of Elizabeth Park, from start …
… to finish.
My favorite spot along the way is the makeshift feeding station someone has set up for the critters. You may recall the last time I was here, it was still cold, and someone had set up multiple bird feeders and suet holders hung from a small tree. Nearby, a couple of boules had been broken up and placed on top of a wooden picnic table.
I spread the remaining oyster crackers on the picnic table, along with about a dozen peanuts, then stood back under the shade of a big tree. Within minutes, there was activity at the table. My offerings attracted a grateful crowd of squirrels and birds, even a woodpecker.
I waited and watched the scene continue to unfold as more woodland creatures came for treats.
A blue jay zipped over and stole a peanut before I had a chance to record its image, and, just like last time, I saw a woodpecker alight on the picnic table’s surface and he grabbed a peanut to go. Another walker came by just as the woodpecker departed and asked “was that a Flicker because I wish I had a photo of it?” (I think it was a red-bellied woodpecker.)
I know from now on when I come to Elizabeth Park, it is a must to visit this spot with goodies in hand. The peace and tranquility of the critters coming together is worth the price of some peanuts and oyster crackers.
I usually work in the yard over Memorial Day weekend. The weather has not cooperated – first rain and a storm, then oppressive heat, and truthfully, I just didn’t feel like wielding a hedge trimmer in 90-plus degrees. Whipping the weeds and taming the bushes can wait ‘til it cools down a bit. Instead, I took myself to the water’s edge and found peace on a holiday which is meaningful for the freedom we enjoy today.