It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, so I will squeeze in one more post for this Hallmark holiday.
I wish I could say I coined the phrase “Cuddle Alert” for those frosty and frigid mid-Winter nights here in Southeast Michigan; no, it was not my clever idea, but the trademark description belongs to a local weatherman named Chuck Gaidica.
Saturday morning, the alarm rang and I hopped out of bed, put on the radio to hear the news, then scurried back to bed and listened from under the covers where I would contemplate my day’s agenda. Nice … the wind chill was -1 F (-18 C) with an air temp of 11 F (-11 C). Those stats made it so tempting to crawl back under the covers for a few hours … or hibernate.
Decisions, decisions – do I stay home and tackle the dust bunnies, or, do I get going and take a long walk before the sun is supposed to sneak back behind the clouds at 11:00 a.m.?
Yes, of course – you’d go on a walk too, as the housework can always wait.
For Valentine’s Day I gave you CUTE; today I give YOU CCCCCCC-COLD.
Yes, this is what cold with a side of snow looks like in my part of the world. I suited up in multiple layers and while getting dressed (it took me about 15-20 minutes to do so BTW), the weatherman said it had dropped to a -4 F (-20 C) wind chill. Yikes! Add more layers? Nah – I may look like the Michelin Man in my down coat and not be able to move my arms and legs. I told myself to just get going as there are two hours of sunshine max! (Not that the sun was going to warm anything up mind you.)
My destination was Heritage Park in Taylor, a ten-mile roundtrip.
“Cuddle” alert – hmm, it looked more like a “huddle” alert to me.
My squirrel pals Parker and Grady are so cuddly looking with their soft fur and endearing looks, that you might like to pick them up, like you would a puppy or a kitten. The Mallards and Canada Geese at Coan Lake at Heritage Park won’t elicit the same feeling, but I guarantee it will melt your heart to see them huddled together on the cold ice or paddling in the frigid waters of the man-made pond known as Coan Lake. Yes, I’m a bleeding heart for these fine feathered friends congregating in one section of the lake. Unfortunately, I cannot make a panoramic shot that would show all of them, so there are many more that were not included in the header shot either.
This is what cold looks like.
On this sweetheart weekend …
… it appears no one was the object of his affection.
I always watch the waterfowl when I see them at a Park. No matter the size of the body of water, there is always one duck or goose that gets stirred up and causes a ruckus. Here this Canada Goose prepares to go into attack mode.
A split-second later, this goose was hissing at one of his counterparts. Check out that nasty face! A few chose to quietly exit the scene …
… while others got the heck out of Dodge in a real hurry! No worries – everyone was fine and they only flew to the other side of Coan Lake – look how they churned up the water during their mass exodus!
A heart-smart hike focusing on red, the color for February.
After taking a ton of shots of the geese and ducks on or around the ice, it was time to move on. I decided to keep with the February heart theme and take pictures of red items around Heritage Park – this was easy to do as you’ll see in the below shots of the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Petting Farm which are on the fringe of this Park.
First the Gardens.
I had a bit of a hike from the historical area of Heritage Park to get to the Botanical Gardens.
First, I had to pass the Community Gardens, where you may recall that people buy garden plots to grow flowers or fruits and veggies and a good portion of the Community Gardens are planted and tended to by prisoner detail and that food is donated to the Fish & Loaves Food Pantry. The Community Gardens look a little desolate, but the evergreen roping, wreathes and festive bows add a touch of color to the blah landscape.
Then, after hiking the length of those Gardens and a large, snow-covered grassy area, I arrived at the Botanical Gardens. I last visited this venue on a hot and humid September morn while in search of hummingbirds. I’ve visited here often in the Summertime – it is a delight to walk through and the volunteers are all friendly and knowledgeable. This was my first Winter visit and I wanted to photograph THE HEART and I think I picked the perfect weekend to do so.
Winter does not do the heart garden justice – you must imagine the beauty of blooms planted at the base of the dedication plaque and for special occasions, the heart is lit up.
I moved along over to the main structure which looked a little barren without all its flower adornments.
Scattered around the pavilion area were potted flowers that have survived the cold weather, pelting wintry precip and I was in awe of these pretty red flowers tucked among the evergreens and their delicate beauty on this frosty February day.
Now onto the other touches of red around this Park.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll recognize the big red barn of the Heritage Park Petting Farm. I am a little bummed that they leveled the decrepit red barn that was badly in need of a paint job, boarded up with a multitude of old signs and always seemed like a stiff breeze would blow it down. A white fence was around the barn with a huge lilac bush and it was very picturesque in the Springtime. But all these photo ops have vanished and the City is building sheds to accommodate Park maintenance equipment. The new structures will be built to resemble the barns to keep with the Park’s quaint look.
No trek around Heritage Park would be complete without taking a photo of the little red schoolhouse, especially with a snowy background. Check out the evergreen tree that is listing to one side. (Note to self – don’t walk too close to it.)
My last stop on my brutally cold trek was at the red wooden Fitz caboose and accompanying boxcar.
The sun was fading fast as I snapped this photo; if my frozen fingers could speak, they would have said “no more pictures please!” Even with two pair of gloves on, it was no match for the brutal cold, so I called it a day at Heritage Park. I made a brief pit stop at Council Point Park to leave peanuts on the table for the squirrels, as I didn’t see any out and about, then headed home, ready to wrap my frozen fingers around a large cup of coffee. When I returned home, no pleading faces awaited me and I saw none of the squirrels who hang out at the house had eaten their peanuts … feel their foreheads? No, it was just that cold!