On Saturday, December 7th, I spent my day visiting three parks. First, it was Council Point Park for a quick jaunt to feed my furry and feathered friends, then there was a foray to Lake Erie Metropark, followed by Elizabeth Park. I already knew the picturesque beauty of the latter two venues would be muted somewhat by the late date in the Fall season, plus it was a gray and blustery day, but I made stops at both parks anyway, camera in hand, because it is Michigan after all … who knows how many days, weeks – even months it might be before I returned to either place? A little cloud cover and cold was not going to hold me back at all. [It turns out, the weather has been fantastic and will be great until the end of this year!]
It was rather desolate looking at Lake Erie Metropark, with the ochre-colored spent bulrushes and reeds and just the occasional mallard paddling through what portions of the marsh were not frozen over. I saw a muskrat emerge from a break in the ice and watched it trot across the frozen surface. I glanced a second time to see its mouth was full of pond lilies, something which is part of a muskrat’s diet. I’ll write about that park adventure in the new year.
You may recall my recent post about stepping out of the car to find a collection of squirrels who hurried over, quickly surrounding the car and me. I was amused and wished I had more peanuts to give them, but I’d used up most of my peanut stash on the early risers at Council Point Park. I remarked in that post that I was sure that I had “Peanut Lady” emblazoned on my forehead.
Well, I vowed to return to Elizabeth Park before the snowflakes began to fly, only this time with a whole package of peanuts, just for those sweet squirrels.
I didn’t expect to see, just moments after scattering most of the peanuts on the ground, a gathering, not only of squirrels, but birds as well, among them Jays, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers … suffice it to say I was in my glory. All this wildlife surrounding me, just for the price of a bag of peanuts. I have used the phrase “simple joy” before – I admit I am easy to please and I was delighted to see them.
I took a lot of pictures of the gathering of my furry and feathered friends happily munching away, then I moseyed and meandered around the rest of Elizabeth Park enjoying the view. It was really cold, but I was dressed for it, except for my fingers which persisted in freezing, despite two pair of gloves.
The trees were mostly bare; the many majestic oaks had dropped their leaves and a carpet of brown and withered leaves was everywhere. In some instances, ice was still embedded amongst the leaves from a cold snap earlier in the week.
I scuffed through loads of them on the grass and some leaves littered the boardwalk.
I stopped to check out the etchings of young love declared and painstakingly “engraved” into the painted metal railings along the boardwalk. I took a few pictures of those hearts, doodles and curlicues, thinking they might become the topic of a post, perhaps at Valentine’s Day, but decided to just use them here.
And, alas … there was love gone wrong too it seems.
I returned home, having driven 50 miles (80 kms), walked almost seven miles (11 kms) and I was gone for six hours doing so. My breakfast was down in my toes and I was ready for something warm to eat and drink.
The images of the Park’s inhabitants that day remain in my head, as well as captured by the camera, so let me share my favorite photos of the day and weave a little rhyme in there as well, about Mother Nature’s gifts, a timely topic as we are immersed in the gift-giving season.
On the 7th of December, Mother Nature gave to me:
A mess o’ squirrels that came runnin’ when they saw the Peanut Lady!
A Blue Jay scamming peanuts in between screeching like Mariah Carey.
A Red-Bellied Woodpecker that spotted nuts and stopped drilling on a tree.
A White-breasted Nuthatch who scoped out peanuts and began yelling “Yippee!”
I tossed peanuts, they gathered, posed and feasted … they must’ve been hungry!
I was happy to share the love and I left with a spring in my step and feeling merry.
Then down the road a little, there was …
A gaggle of geese goose-steppin’ on the icy grass slowly and very precariously.
Some seagull shenanigans – even one dozing off and looking quite sleepy.
I watched Woodpeckers at the feeding station checking out the seeds with glee.
I felt blessed I had chosen this time and place to walk and see the menagerie.
Wide-eyed wonder …
I hope that every walk in nature continues to fill me with wide-eyed wonder just like this squirrel and that I will always remain mindful of the words in the quotation up at the very top of this post.