The weather has been wonky – it goes right along with everything else these days.
When industry, construction and office-type jobs suddenly shut down in mid-March, we were having some mild weather … mild for Michigan anyway. All of a sudden, many new faces appeared on the perimeter path as newbie walkers gave this pastime a whirl.
There are two walkers, a husband and wife named Arnie and Carol, that are “regulars” at Council Point Park. They are retired and when I asked them if they worried about walking the perimeter path during the pandemic, Arnie said “no – we walk for our physical and mental health and won’t let fear stand in the way.” Carol added “we enjoy our walk and besides, Arnie and I feed the squirrels like you do.” Yes, we are kindred souls from way back. They’ve been walking at Council Point Park for many years.
Lately, since the weather has been chilly and gray, we are now the only walkers from the “old days” so I guess everyone else, old and new, like Spring pollen, has scattered to the wind.
Speaking of pollen, perhaps masking-up is a blessing these days (for me anyway).
Because I’m a bit of a germaphobe anyway, when I chose to stay on course with the walking regimen, I decided to don a dust filter mask I had on hand. The mask is doing double duty: it protects me from inhaling those virus droplets you hear so much about and also, I’ve had allergies for decades and they are particularly bad this time of year. Although I’ve been on the immunotherapy shots year ‘round for decades, the only time I sneeze my head off is in the Spring, when the grass is lush and needs cutting twice a week and the trees leaf out all at once.
I go for allergy shots once every four weeks, but can stretch it to five weeks and with my OTC Alavert, I sneeze, but not those multiple sneezes that make your heart stop – yikes! That used to happen to my grandmother and since she had heart disease AND allergies her entire life, it was a problem that was … well … nothing to sneeze at.
Right now, my allergist is considered “non-essential” until the end of April (unless the Order to Stay Home/Stay Safe is extended). The exception is his patients with severe allergies or asthma-related problems. I am not in this category. Those patients get special dispensation and are scheduled a half-hour apart to allow for sanitizing the area after the shots are administered. Usually the shots are given on a walk-in basis during office hours. The “shot girl” has you roll up your sleeves, you are jabbed in each arm and you’re good to go a few minutes later.
So, believe it or not, the masks have been a blessing as it keeps the pollen at bay.
There is a downside to masking-up though …
While the dust filter mask has its virtues, it also has its glitches. The metal clip does not fit snugly to my nose, so that if I open my mouth, the mask rides up and down a bit. Because it’s been so chilly, the condensation fogs up my eyeglasses, which are already a little dark since they are transition lenses. Even on a gray day, the lenses still darken a little. If I speak to anyone, there is instant condensation on my eyeglasses once I open my mouth. It takes a long time for that “steam” to go away!
Since I have to breathe, and therefore I am not seeing 100% clearly, when I set out each morning, whether on the path or in the ‘hood enroute to the Park, I cross my fingers there will be no trip-and-fall hazards along the way and once at the Park, I am hopeful I am able see well enough to dodge all the goose poop that litters the path.
I must confess that more than once I’ve approached a wadded-up store bag that I’ve spotted on the perimeter path and called out “want some peanuts honey?” Oops! I, of course, backed off quickly before anyone saw or heard that faux pas and my credibility might be questioned. 🙂
Who is that masked woman?
Because you might be wondering if the squirrels are scratching their heads wondering who this stranger is, even though the voice is familiar and endearments are flowing, (not to mention the peanuts), well you can wonder no longer.
The squirrels had no issues deciding if it was safe to approach this woman with the strange blue face covering. Query: so, do they recognize my voice or identify with the peanut bag I am toting? Who knows, but they show up, not giving me a second glance – perhaps they consider it an improvement and tummy rumbles usurp deciding whether one is/is not a kindly human.
Incredibly, even the birds at the Park and home are not fearful of their masked benefactor – of course, the male cardinal with its striking red plumage, wears a black mask himself. The other day I returned home from walking and a male cardinal was on the porch near the basket where I deposit peanuts for the squirrels and birds to help themselves. What a woeful look that beautiful red bird had. So, I looked and yes, the basket was empty. I always make sure I keep a few peanuts in my pocket for whomever decides to “hit me up” when I get home, so I opened the Ziploc bag and put a peanut on the porch. He hopped over and took it “to go”.
Last week I ordered some bandanas to wear for soft masks once the weather gets warmer. I may need to reacquaint myself with all my furry and feathered friends, who may give me the head tilt as they ponder whether they are dealing with a cowgirl or the feminine version of the Frito Bandito.
While Spring continues to load slowly …
The torrential rain and warm temps last week made it feel like Spring. The flowering trees and forsythia bushes have added a dab of color to the drab landscape, so just when I thought Spring was humming along, the past few mornings we had below-freezing temps and snow has whitened the lawn.
Of course, I can’t cut down drastically on the squirrels’ food source yet; the ground is too cold to dig up peanuts right now and that’s if they remember where they are buried. Usually, whether I walk out the screen door in the morning, or begin walking on the perimeter path, it is like Pavlov’s dog. My moniker changes from “Linda Schaub” to “The Peanut Lady” in a heartbeat. And, if I am not quick enough to dispense peanuts, I get the “treat stare” – I know that look. I’ve had pets, and they all give you that sad face, and in our house it was either the Cocker Spaniel or the canary; perhaps the Poodle or the budgie, so yes – I “get” it and yes, I rise to the occasion.
And, if a steely glance, doesn’t work, by all means, climb aboard your benefactor’s shoe!
No worries – I am not cutting them off … the birds neither. I’ll bet the Park critters are wondering why I’m not taking pictures of them. There are no poses for peanuts as I leave the camera at home. It seems I am marching to the beat of a different drummer these days. I guess it happens to the best of us.
Meijer, where I do my grocery shopping was slacking off with stocking peanuts this past Winter. When they had the unsalted jumbo variety, I stocked up and unfortunately, a few times I had to resort to the salted or raw peanuts. So I didn’t need to make a trip to the germy grocery store, I ordered a delivery of peanuts right to my door from a local Wild Birds Unlimited Store. The owner of the Woodhaven WBU is my former HVAC tech. Phil and his wife opened up the store a few years ago. I follow their shop on Facebook and they were advertising free delivery during our State’s shutdown of non-essential businesses. Phil believes watching the birds is a great stress reliever. I believe that 42 pounds of peanuts was just what the doctor ordered for my furry and feathered pals to keep going and going, don’t you? (Thus, they will be claimed as dependents next year for sure!)