I have to pause, amidst the miscellaneous and sundry squirrel posts, to duly honor my favorite nature nook. Council Point Park turns 25 years old in 2019. There will be no fanfare. No cake and ice cream. Not even balloons; that’s okay, balloons are bad for wildlife. But I did write the City and say “hey, did you know this little gem parked right in the middle of our City is turning a quarter of a century old this year?” I got a nice response to my query – no, they didn’t know about that significant date, so they’ll include that tidbit in Lincoln Park’s quarterly publication “Happenings” that appears in the mail and online.
Though I never discovered Council Point Park until the Spring of 2013, when I first began exploring this venue, I learned from the sign in the photo below, the Park was established in 1994; hmm, where was I for nearly 20 years, living under a rock? I learned that the inline skating rink was dedicated to a high school classmate of mine, Dave Ward, a Lincoln Park fireman, who sadly lost his battle with cancer.
It probably seems like happenings at Council Point Park revolve only around the squirrels, but that’s not true. I recently wrote that I missed the waterfowl which were gone for months, thanks to a thick coat of algae bloom on the Ecorse Creek, which runs parallel to the walking trail. I realized I was more fond of the geese than I thought and actually missed their bossy ways. Also MIA was Harry the Heron fishing from the cement precipice, because that landing, which is built over a huge sewer drain, was flooded since Spring with the water lapping over the cement surface … so what’s a heron to do?
But, as often happens, I no sooner launched that post, then a day or so later, I saw Harry fishing for his breakfast. As I rounded the corner, I saw him and quickly snapped his picture, then zoomed in with the camera and approached him slowly, knowing full well he’d bolt for the passageway, while making that horrid screechy noise, like I was terrorizing him or something. And, that is exactly what happened. He moved so fast, I got the passageway pic only, no Harry – he was long gone.
Well, I was bummed out about missing a great heron photo op much more than Harry, who likely was eyeing some shad for breakfast until I happened along, but soon there was the unmistakable sound of ducks quacking. How I’ve missed their raucous noise in the morning! The bushes, weeds and reeds along the Creek banks don’t give me full viewing access to where the ducks hang out, so I did my best by peering through the bushes, but there they were, paddling and quacking up a storm.
I’ve even heard and seen the Cardinals and Blue Jays again, up to their old antics, trying to outwit the squirrels and steal their peanuts right from under their respective noses.
It sure felt like Summer all last week and I savored every day as I meandered through the Park, getting my steps in and taking lots of pictures. I knew this week would be a blast back to reality and sure enough, we’ve dipped to near freezing, with bone-chilling temps and blustery winds. So last week’s weather was a real treat. The sun not only felt good on my hatless head, but the angle of the sun’s rays caused really long shadows.
Here I am, a tote bag containing a cache of peanuts hanging from my left arm and my messy bun a bit askew from the breeze. The squirrels don’t care a whit about my appearance; as long as they identify with my face, it’s all good. Check out those long legs … I am five feet nine inches tall, but look like I am on stilts! I definitely have that old-fashioned clothes peg look in this photo. Through my shadow, you can see the tiny yellow locust leaves littering the walking path and outlining the edges where asphalt meets grass. I can remember as a kid standing and laughing at these oddball shadows – it only goes to show, it’s fun to feel like a kid again.
Not to be outdone, Parker was showing off his unique physique with a little shadow play of his own.
There was much more happening than just shadows on the walking path, because I saw a Woolly Bear caterpillar. Folks who live in a four-season state may already know the legend of this caterpillar and its infamous rings. Did you know that folklore tells us that seeing a fuzzy Woolly Bear caterpillar with a wide, rusty-brown band means we will have a mild Winter? But the wider the black band on this crawling critter, the more severe the Winter. So, what do you predict from seeing this caterpillar below? The Old Farmer’s Almanac has already predicted a cold, snowy and lengthy Winter for Southeast Michigan. I hope they are wrong!
I have not seen a Woolly Bear caterpillar in a few years and was bent down examining it, when a woman walker with her little boy came over to see what I was looking at. I explained the caterpillar story, as well as the supposed prediction by the Almanac, and she wrinkled up her nose in disgust, while her youngster was pointing at this creature who was inching along rather quickly.
This encounter made me recall a few years back, when I first met my friend Ann Marie, a fellow walker, who used to frequent this Park. One morning I was examining a caterpillar and she wandered over to see what I was doing. I explained the significance of the Woolly Bear caterpillar and its rings and our upcoming Winter. It turned out the caterpillar was about half-and-half for its stripes, and it was one brutal Winter.
Even though the weather was warm and wonderful, Mother Nature was still working her Autumn magic around the Park. It’s hard to tell the real deal leaves from the silk leaves in this wreath:
A splash or a dash of red infused in the green leaves on this bush is a nice touch.
Sometimes even the plain-colored items are photo-worthy, at least in my opinion. This is a clump of milkweed seeds which I found along the path.
The brown seeds hanging from this tree are dry and brittle. On a windy day, they rattle on their stems when the breeze hits them.
Never one to pass up an occasion for a photo op and extra peanuts, behold Parker who donned his birthday hat for this momentous occasion. Since cake and ice cream are not an acceptable treat for my furry friend, he was giving me his best pleading eyes and “please feed me peanuts now” look. It worked!