Always have a Plan B!

Fall sure was fleeting; in fact it seems that if you blinked you missed it, thanks to a bully named Winter that intruded mightily. It seems like just yesterday I was melting away in the hot and humid temps …

… and just like (snapping fingers) we plunged into the deep freeze. Check out my neighbor’s thermometer earlier this week, and …

… his icicles. Yikes! Those are lethal. Also note the squirrels’ nests in the bare trees a few backyards away.

Happily we hit the freezing mark yesterday and will creep up to 36F/0C today – woo hoo!

I am a notorious weather worrier, no matter the season, and I like to plan ahead. Since I’m no fan of Winter driving, having taken the bus for decades when I worked in downtown Detroit thus never honed my Winter driving skills, I try to take care of all my errands before the snow flies. It’s unlikely you’ll see me slippin’ and slidin’ in my buggy on a Winter day as it is tucked inside the garage. I am more likely to venture out on two feet than four wheels.

Also, as long-time followers are aware, I am like the squirrels who gather their nut treasures to sock away for the long Winter ahead, as I spend several days every October, scurrying around gathering pantry items to have on hand until Spring’s arrival – yes, that many months in advance. It is an annual chore, but unless I’ve forgotten anything, I just pick up refrigerated food and some produce on good weather days until April. My mom did this ritual for years too. That doesn’t mean I will embrace the Winter – that is far from the truth. I despise this season and am not happy that this snow and brutal cold have left walking conditions icy and dicey.

But, all was not lost as I have a Plan B because I have many more miles to meet my goal and this is no time to be a slacker – four days off this week was a long enough respite. More on my Plan B later.

Be prepared!

Not to toot my own horn, but ever since I was young, I was always thinking ahead, even before “forward thinking” became vogue. Perhaps that was a quality instilled in me by Mom, or maybe those years I was a Brownie. Yep, I was a card-carrying Brownie until my membership was cut short after we moved here from Canada in July 1966. This photo was taken in the Spring of ’66 – I was a Sprite, which was our Brownie pack Circle Group emblem.

Because I am a “saver” and not a “thrower” I still have my Brownie record and membership card that I carried in my pouch on my belt as part of the uniform – those treasures were embedded in a scrapbook of childhood memories that my mom collected for me. No I didn’t save the uniform, nor that spiffy beret where my Sprite emblem was sewn on.

Check out the motto on the card, which I have enlarged and highlighted below.

Planning ahead doesn’t ALWAYS work out so great though.

On a beautiful October day I was packing peanuts and my camera and headed off for a long trek at Council Point Park. As I pulled into the parking lot, so did the truck with the crew of grass cutters. Well that was a bummer, as the bold and brazen squirrels and usually fearless jays disappeared into their respective nests once the roar of the lawn cutting machines invaded their territory.

Well, that was a boring walk as I dodged those men in their machines and had zero interaction with the Council Point Park critters; so how was I going to let them know I was thinking of them? The squirrels were still intense with burying their nuts for Winter, so I made “droppings” around the Park, where the lawn cutters would not go near and they still got their treats, to be enjoyed after I left.

And for good measure, I left a passel of nuts on the picnic tables in the pavilion area.

The Call of the Wild.

At the beginning of October, Grady the Gray Squirrel appeared out of the blue. He is a savvy squirrel who might have rebuffed me in the Summertime, but as the days grew shorter and cooler, he remembered his ol’ benefactor from last Winter and started showing up when I returned from my walks, sitting on haunches near the porch and swishing his tail furiously. I was willing to give Grady and his friends a peanut or two on the porch – I delighted in seeing the cardinals, jays, and black and gray squirrels gather on my porch throughout last Winter. Then, you may recall, a large Fox Squirrel came along and was piggy, sitting on the peanuts and chasing the other squirrels away and into the street. So, I decided to give this venture another try. Over a few days I got Grady to follow me into the backyard to feed him there. It worked – he was a quick learner as you read in this recent post.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was out in the backyard and very dismayed to find scat all around the grass. I do not have a dog and I do have a fenced-in yard, so when I got inside, I sent a message to my neighbor:

“I may not have ever had a cat, nor do I have a cat now, so why do I have cat poop all over my backyard? I have a fence, so unless a dog climbed the fence, it is a cat – why can’t it poop in the garden like other cats (not that I want that either)!? No words!”

His response was immediate: “yes, we have two cats going between our yards, and a raccoon – a big one!” Whereupon he proceeded to describe the size of its derriere.

“Wait … what?!” I fired back at the speed of sound.

It seems that as of October 30th, the date of our messages, there were two black cats roaming about, and not just for Halloween … plus a huge raccoon. We don’t live in a rural area either.

That didn’t make my day. I next Googled “do raccoons eat peanuts?” Grady finished them off right away, but I had to cover my bases. Yes, they like peanuts. Well, that figured, so I had to re-educate Grady that breakfast would now be served on the front porch like last year. That little squirrel caught on quickly, as did the jays, cardinals and sparrows. The sparrows?

The furry and feathered critters fight for first dibs as soon as soon as the peanuts hit the porch and cement ledge. We don’t need a dinner bell at this house.

Of course a rogue Fox Squirrel interjected himself into the scenario, just like last year:

When this Fox Squirrel is not monopolizing the treats, he, like Grady, his much-smaller counterpart, awaits The Peanut Lady to open the door and tender peanuts. Then they each scramble down from their respective trees where they were peering out of their nests. I watch the scenario from the living room through the screen door, either by zooming in with the camera, or sometimes with the binoculars. The gentle tweet of the male and female Northern Cardinals in the barberry bush tells me they, too, are in standby mode. They will fly onto the cement ledge and hop along daintily to reach the peanuts. The Blue Jay, high up in the maple tree, now stripped bare of its leaves, is revealed as he anxiously awaits me to line up the peanuts on the cement ledge for an easy-peasy fly-by. The screech of the Jay alerts friends and family where he is and peanut delivery is imminent so get here ASAP!

There is a gentle twitter as sparrows line up on the ledge, their tiny brown bodies angled to zoom down onto the porch. Surprisingly the sparrows, are in tune with this routine too. While I stood there shivering on the city sidewalk, trying to get some outside shots of the munch bunch, I saw a sparrow fly down from the ledge and grab a petite peanut in the shell from the porch. First he analyzed his capabilities versus this peanut in the shell …

… “Me too” is what he decided and picked one out just his size and off he went. That’ll feed him and the wife and kids too. Who knew sparrows could crack open peanuts and eat ’em? Unless of course he returned to the nest and his mate said “really Sam – you need a nutcracker for that!”

Unfortunately, this time the bigger birds stayed at bay, reluctant to gather while I stood there with the camera in tow and with freezing fingers I might add. Oh, we watched each other warily, but they waited for me to go into the house … my job was done there and they were eager to dispense with me. I get no respect sometimes, but there will be other photo ops as time marches on. This week’s premature brutal cold and record snowfall sounded the death knell for foraging by my little friends for awhile, and likely until next Spring in my opinion.

I have invoked Plan B for walking.

The past two days I headed a few blocks over to Memorial Park to walk. There is no pathway, it is merely walking laps around the equivalent of three City blocks. The snow has melted a bit due to the sun, so I am not tromping through 8.8 inches/22.3 cms of snow. However, ice still plagues the parking lot, so I am only walking on the grass for now.

The park is divided into two sections, one where the memorial area and bandshell are located (one city block) …

… and the other side of the cross street, which is a small playground and a large grassy area encompassing two city blocks.

It is a little boring, but works to rack up the steps – I did three miles Friday; four miles Saturday. The squirrels at Memorial Park see me, freak out a little and head up the nearest tree because, with the exception of special events like concerts, parades and Cruisin’ Downriver in the Spring and Summer, they don’t see many humans and likely see me as an intrusion in their territory and lives. Maybe I ought to take peanuts? Nope, I’m not starting that routine in a third venue! I will head back to Council Point Park as soon as the ice melts, hopefully today.

[Snoopy’s Plan B courtesy of Pinterest]

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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33 Responses to Always have a Plan B!

  1. Fred Bailey says:

    Ah life in the jungle!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Eliza says:

    I’m glad you’re getting to still walk. Hello little Linda 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG I still have my brownie and girl scout things too. My mom was a leader so I was very involved. Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      I am not the only “saver” and not “thrower” then Diane! When we moved here from Canada, my mom tried to get me into a Girl Scout group here and likely because I had not “risen in the ranks” over here in the U.S., she could not get me in anywhere. I was disappointed as I enjoyed being in Brownies and all the activities. We called our next rank “Girl Guides” over there, at least that was the case years ago. So I became a “Pioneer Girl” instead, which was a similar type of group for pre-teens through a church. A neighbor was involved, so I joined and became a member easily – they were glad to have someone else in their group. My former boss had triplet girls and his wife was real involved too, maybe top of the Detroit area leaders. She was always gone with the Girl Scouts and their girls and I had to buy cookies from each girl. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I save memories but It’s time to let go. This winter is going to be clean out time. I am putting everything I don’t want in our pole barn and then getting a roll off dumpster.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I really need to do that too Diane, although I got rid of a lot of items after the insulation job in 2017. They made such a mess! I spent months cleaning the garage and basement and still one corner could use a little more effort. I used it as an opportunity to get rid of some things, but need so much more room! You mean serious business with a pole bar and rolloff dumpster.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ruthsoaper says:

    Hi Linda – I’m still here just catching up on your posts. You know I am a big advocate for being prepared – nothing worse than being blindsided. I love the picture of the sparrow with the peanut. So cute. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Hi Ruth – I should have linked to your post from this time last year on Winter preparedness. What a week it was! The ice is finally melting, but in the morning you still have to be careful before it reaches freezing. I came home today from walking to find all kinds of DTE trucks and men down in a huge hole they had dug all along the street. They are installing smart meters on our street. At least the weather was good for that and one guy was in a short-sleeved teeshirt. I thought the sparrow was cute too – it was news to me that they would try to eat a whole peanut. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve lived a life based on Plan B. Plus I consider Snoopy my spirit animal, so that comic is great. I was Brownie and I may still have my membership card around here somewhere. Funny you’d mention blue jays, I was trying to snap a pic of one this morning because it looked stunningly beautiful contrasted with the gray leafless tree limbs. Darned thing wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get photo of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      It must be our years of being card-carrying Brownies Ally – a valuable life experience for sure. My first brush with Snoopy was the Snoopy v. The Red Baron Christmas song years ago. I like Snoopy too. I was looking on Pinterest for a simple header photo that said “Plan B” and that cartoon popped up. The blue jays are fast. The one or two that come to get peanuts from the ledge at the house daily do some incredible maneuvers to do a fly-by and swipe a peanut. They are a blur of wings.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda, you were adorable! I don’t stock up for months in advance like you, but do have a well-stocked pantry. It gives me flexibility when I cook dinner. The park across the street sure is convenient to have so close when the weather goes bad! 🙋


    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Sabine – not sure exactly why I posed in such a formal way, but I did and showed off that Brownie uniform and my knees (and short socks). My mom did that big shopping for Winter for years and I kept up doing that, especially since I don’t work on site. When I still worked downtown and took the bus, we had a grocery store about five blocks away and I’d hop off and get a few groceries if needed and then just walk home, so it was really convenient. I do it for other things besides groceries – it really saves time and the effort of hauling in groceries in the ice and snow in the dead of Winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Prior... says:

    Glad you gave plan b and options for walking And I think it is wise to not start the peanuts there!
    Also – cute brownie/sprite photo and cards – pretty amazing to still have them…

    And we Walked on a new trail today – very nice – and still fall here in Virginia

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I agree – there can be a limit to it sometimes Yvette. My house is cluttered from things I have saved – there may be a time I must take a picture and rely on the memories rather than the actual item at hand. I am glad you are exploring new trails and that you still have Fall. Our weather was so ugly last week and I understand parts of the area have freezing fog this a.m. – hopefully not here as I just resumed walking on a regular basis again last Friday.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Shelley says:

    Always prepared, love it. And you’re doing great in utilizing Plan B’s! Very inspiring. And…I have my Brownie stuff too. Good thing you stopped feeding the raccoon – you don’t want him/her nesting in your yard! I’m convinced you will meet your walking goals!!!! Go-Linda-Go!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Shelley – I am still hopeful to get there – just looked out the window … still dark, not promising, but I will do Part B to get steps in. I think Grady or the other squirrels would have polished off the peanuts before nightfall, but decided to stop the backyard and go back to the front yard … I can at least see them out the front door – potential photo ops. I wish you would have seen the look on my face when I saw the message “two cats and a raccoon.”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pam Lazos says:

    For awhile we had a juvenile raccoon eating the cats’ food that I leave in the porch until our dog chased him away. Maybe you need a dog, Linda. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      My friend lives in a semi-rural area near Buffalo, NY. She is a good-hearted soul, who has her own two indoor cats, plus feeds many ferals. She has shelter houses with hay, battery-operated heating pads and heated dishes for Winter but feeds/waters them all year around. She has done this for years – the cats have litters and just take them right over to Carol’s house – she is happy to oblige. But every morning when she takes out the food/water, inevitably there is either a raccoon, opossum, or skunk (or all) hanging out near the deck, waiting to eat. The latest is the possum which goes into the shelter house and the cats stay outside watching it sleeping in there. She’ll chase them away, look out ten minutes later, all three are there again. I think I’d give up – she says no dog, the contingent of cats are enough thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sandra J says:

    I actually have a couple possums that come out occasionally in the city if I leave to much bird seed out. I usually only put small amounts of bird seed out for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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