We’re about to embark on Autumn and I’m happy to do so, since I’ve grown weary of Mother Nature’s continuous tweaks of this Summer season, not to mention all her weather boo-boos for 2019 if you want to be picky.
I sure hope I don’t regret wishing my life away by kicking Summer to the curb, but the season has been nothing special – neither was Spring for that matter. Incessant rain in May and early June caused swampy conditions and lakeshore flooding in most parks and we had an inordinate amount of mosquitoes – the pesky buggers are still problematic. Despite taking precautions yesterday and staying away from woodsy and swampy areas due to the EEE virus, I still could play connect the dots with my mosquito bites on my arms and legs – long pants and a long-sleeved shirt were out of the question since it was 85 F/29 C and very humid.
Foul weather also made me miss some waterfowl bucket list items I had planned for myself, like heading to Heritage Park to see ducklings in a neat little row following their Mamas around Coan Lake, or the Mute Swan with her cygnets riding on her back at Dingell Park. I missed these items in 2018 also due to the incessant rain every weekend in Spring.
Sigh. Yes, there will always be Mallards, Mute Swans and Mamas so I’ll try not to sweat the small stuff.
But unfortunately that trend of missing out on the ordinary and extraordinary continued into Summer, especially at my favorite nature nook and while walking through the neighborhood.
Hit or Miss and MIAs.
We’ve had many predicted bouts of severe weather – some happened, not so close to me, but the angst of waiting on the next big storm, or conditions ripe for tornadoes, has filled me with a sense of impending doom all this season. When we had rain, it was never a gentle shower, but often a torrential downpour, despite the weather forecasters’ predictions of a “splash and dash” event. We flip-flopped around with unseasonable temps – either heat and humidity off the charts and then just like that … we’d have a slew of days where you needed long sleeves. The weather wreaked havoc with walking, despite my self-imposed new rule of walking in the rain. You may recall I even bought rain boots and walking shoes made for slopping around in puddles.
But this Summer’s weather did more than ruin many mornings – it also affected the ordinary occurrences at Council Point Park and in the ‘hood. I’ve been keeping a running list in my head of what I missed this Summer … all I can say is, if this is the new norm for Summer, it just makes me sad.
Down at the Park the list has been growing …
No geese: The Canada geese reared their goslings and then one day they were gone. I told you how the City sprays the grass with some icky grape flavor to discourage the geese from grazing once they regain their flight feathers and can fly again after their annual moult. The geese usually return around Labor Day when the City no longer sprays – I saw them once, and no more.
No ducks: The Mallards were missing long before the algae bloom coated the Ecorse Creek, leaving a thick green slime, and, although this ghastly green stuff is abating somewhat, the ducks, long done with their annual moult, still remain at large.
No swans: Likewise the swans generally glide gracefully down the center of the Creek which runs parallel to the walking trail. I guess they don’t want to muck up their white feathers with the algae scum either.
No herons: I haven’t seen Harry or his kin for months. When I’d come around the corner by the cement landing, I’d peek through the bushes to see if Harry was fishing in the Creek and I’d have my camera ready. But the water level was so high from all the Spring rain, the cement landing was submerged and only recently has receded. It seems Harry is dining at another Park’s fishing hole now.
No butterflies: The milkweed was growing like a weed all along the Creek banks this year, so I was hoping to be treated to a flurry of beautiful butterflies on my daily walk. I checked for Monarch caterpillars munching on the milkweed leaves and found none. I’ve not seen a single Monarch so I’m lucky I got my “Monarch fix” at other larger parks.
No birds: I was lucky enough to find just one nest with a Mama robin sitting on the eggs. Then there were hatchlings and I captured a shot or two of Mama scavenging for grubs and worms then feeding her young and I shared them in a post. I had hoped to document their growth through fledging like last year, but suddenly one day when I returned to the Park after a couple days of rain, I checked them out, and the whole family was gone. I was also disappointed to see that the colorful and sturdy bird house that someone hung in a tree at the Park was never occupied and finally taken down a few weeks ago. There was one goldfinch this year, a real Summer bummer. It was such a treat to see the brightly colored goldfinches darting throughout the Park, alighting on thistle plants where they partake in seeds and make for some great photos. They would be so engrossed in eating they’d be oblivious to me clicking away with the camera.
No bullfrogs: Every morning I used to hear the deep base tones of the bullfrog that I called “Jeremiah” as I made my way along the perimeter path, but I’ve only heard him a couple of times this year.
No turtles: Just like clockwork, on sunny days the Creek turtles lined up in a row on a log. If you stepped close to the Creek bank, one by one they’d slide into the water. I’ve only seen them a handful of times this year.
Thank goodness for the squirrels or it would have been like a ghost town! There are not as many squirrels either and Parker is not present and accounted for every day like in the past. I wonder sometimes if they’ve simply relocated or live in fear of the Cooper’s Hawk contingent that circle overhead?
Well sadly, there were items amiss in the neighborhood as well …
No chalk art: Normally there are many chalk art discoveries in my morning walks, but this Summer there were just two instances and one was under the pavilion at the Park and the other was Brian Spicer’s handiwork on his patio.
No robins running through the sprinkler: We’ve received so much rain that lawn sprinklers were not being used as much this Summer. This meant less robins hanging out under the spray to wet their feathers to preen, or trying to wrest worms from the wet soil.
No Pagel access to the Park: Construction has torn up my usual route to and from Council Point Park the last six weeks. For sure the potholes in the street and uneven sidewalks need to be corrected but I must now go two blocks out of my way going to and from the Park.
Enough whining – come take a virtual stroll with me anyway!
Notwithstanding the missing highlights in my morning meander, there is still plenty to take in on my weekday five-mile trek to my favorite nature nook. Now that the sun is getting up later, on gray mornings, I’ve had to reduce my walk to four miles, and yes, I still hope to attain my goal of walking 1,242 miles/2,000 kilometers by year end.
While pounding the pavement in the neighborhoods, or along the perimeter path, my head is always swiveling … up, down, all around. I guess I am nosy and don’t want to miss anything as I wend my way through the ‘hood and to the Park.
To passersby or other walkers, I am sure I resemble my favorite peanut pal Parker.
I’m sharing a passel of photos I call “tiny treasures” which memorialize many of my roundtrip morning treks from home to Council Point Park.
There are birds …
There are blooms …
There are butterfly magnets …
There are berries …
There are burrs …
There are bugs …
There are bunnies …
Oh, there is more …
There are weeds …
… and there are seeds.
Speaking of seeds … I flashed back to my youth when I saw these “Santa’s Whiskers” or “Santas” a/k/a Thistle seed pods, if you want to get technical. I remember them floating lazily in a gentle Summer breeze and we kids would grab one, make a quick wish, then blow on it to whisk it on its way. I snagged this one and made a wish on it.
Remember this … all you’ve got to do is look up, down and all around – there are always tiny treasures just waiting to be found. I’ll leave you with this quote.
Nature is man’s teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. ~Alfred Billings Street