… GET SET, …
Last Saturday I spent a delightful morning at Heritage Park. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while, know there is always something to see and write about when I go to this scenic and historical venue.
The ambiance makes Heritage Park a perfect place to have a peaceful meander year ‘round, but Spring is one of my favorite times, as the many flowering trees lend their pastel tones to an otherwise still-muted landscape. I was also hoping to glimpse some ducklings, as Coan Lake is always teeming with Mallards. I’m still hoping to fulfill my “Birdie Bucket List for 2020” by getting some duckling shots.
Well, it was not the day for ducklings … unbelievably, there were only two Mallards strutting around the grounds and none paddling in Coan Lake. I suspect, that out in the bushes, female Mallards were sitting on their nests and the males, a/k/a Drakes, were hovering nearby … you know them as nervous expectant fathers. 🙂
Annual Happy Soles 5K Run/Walk (with a twist).
I had not only chosen this venue for the above reasons, but I was there to participate in a virtual 5K walk for the local food pantry known as Fish & Loaves. This is their mission:
Last year I participated in four different 5Ks, raising money for charity while ambling along to enjoy the event and take pictures for a blog post. Two 5Ks raised money for local education, one for shelter pets and then there was Fish & Loaves.
So, when I received an e-mail to sign up for the Happy Soles Virtual 5K, I decided to give it a whirl – it’s the only organized walk I will do this year and this organization is in need of donations due to so much unemployment in our area.
The rules were to participate in a 5K walk or run, anywhere you wanted, any date/time between May 4th and June 30th, then, upon completion, you posted your results at the race website. A tee-shirt and finishing medal will be awarded the first week in July. Because I don’t have a smartphone, I could not officially sync/certify my race results, just post them. That’s okay, I never strive to get great race results anyway.
So let’s get started on this Virtual 5K for Fish & Loaves Food Pantry.
It was Saturday, May 9th – unbelievably, the weather was more like March. It was blustery and just 31F/-0C when I pulled into the parking lot at Heritage Park. It seemed hard to believe the weekend before people were walking around in shorts and tank tops and the cold weather on “race day” persisted long into the week we just ended, with traces of snow and record-setting cold weather.
As usual, I was masked up and the cold air was causing that all-too-familiar issue of fogging up my eyeglasses. I adjusted the mask so I could see where I was going and didn’t bump into anyone – not likely, as it seemed I was the only person there.
My favorite part of Heritage Park is the historical village. I like the old-time atmosphere there, the peace and tranquility of Coan Lake and its covered bridge, along with the aqua-colored hues of the water-powered Mill and the dribs and drabs of red from the caboose and box car, and of course, the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Coan Lake never disappoints (well usually).
I went straight to Coan Lake by the covered bridge looking for ducklings but was surprised to see no waterfowl at all – not a single seagull swooped preciously close to my head. That had to be a first for me, so I figured I would just meander around and return to Coan Lake later.
First up – The Little Red Schoolhouse.
On every trip to Heritage Park I always get a shot or two of the Taylor Heritage School, that cute, one-room schoolhouse near Coan Lake.
I must confess that on this day, however, my initial reason for stopping at the vintage-looking schoolhouse was because I decided to get a photo of my reflection in the door. I was wearing a wool hat pulled down to my eyebrows and all that was visible were my darkened eyeglasses and the big face mask. Surely this virtual race and my masked-up face would reflect the sign of the times. In fact, the signage at the Little Red Schoolhouse just solidified my thoughts.
The flash fizzled a bit, so I decided to abandon that idea and peek in the windows on the other side of the schoolhouse as there was very little sun glare.
Wait a minute! Aren’t all the Michigan kids being home schooled?!
I thought it would be fun to get pictures of these two students gazing wistfully out the side windows of the schoolhouse.
One day I’m going to attend the annual historical buildings open house and get some photos of the inside, instead of always peering in from the outside.
Next up was the log house where I peered in those windows as well.
Next on the walking agenda was the Water Mill Building. I love the subdued color and the big waterwheel and usually take a photo of this building every time I walk at Heritage Park.
I spotted the first Canada Geese of the day strutting their stuff by the gate. In this picture which I took from across Coan Lake, I didn’t notice at that time the parents were minding their offspring. I thought they were simply milling around the Mill.
I quickly walked over to see if I could get a better shot of them, but they decided to move to the water’s edge. I got this picture which included a Tree Swallow who nearly photobombed that shot.
The two geese plopped into the water shortly after I arrived and quickly set out, their goslings obediently trailing behind Mom. Usually the goslings number around five or six, so I was a little sad to see only two goslings for this family. This was the only family of geese I saw at Heritage Park. I took several pictures of the family over the next half-hour and I’ll include them in a separate post.
Swallows were swooping, dive-bombing and photo bombing nearly every shot I took, but when I tried to take a picture of them on their own, they flew away. They move very quickly, so I was lucky to get one swallow resting quietly on a boulder near the covered bridge.
Next, I decided to stroll over to the Petting Farm and Botanical Gardens.
Heritage Park Petting Farm.
I don’t know if they were open for business or not due to the pandemic. I got as close to the white wooden fence as I could, craning my neck for a sign of life in the barnyard. A few non-screaming goats congregated in one area of the pen, while a sheep was baaing loudly – was he protesting something … a late breakfast, looking for his kinfolk? I don’t know, but that critter kept it up the entire time I walked the outskirts of the farm.
Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.
Just a few more months (and a little more warmth), and the Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will be bursting at the seams with colorful blooms, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I’ve been to the Botanical Gardens plenty of times in the Summer in search of hummers, but sadly they elude me, even on the hottest and most tropical-feeling days. I aim to take pictures of those lovely creatures, so I’ll be beating a path there once more flowers are out.
I wandered around the area, taking a few pictures of the now rather bare-bones landscape. A few perennials were up and blooming and hardy annuals as well, all adding a touch of color.
But fear not … a little TLC by the many volunteers and Mother Nature’s sunshine will be the ingredients for beauty to surround us in a month or so. The Botanical Gardens features music in the park all Summer; but likely these events will be cancelled, like all our other favorite Summer pastimes as the pandemic rages on.
I chatted with a volunteer who was bent over weeding a garden by this bench.
She told me the gusts of wind were not so great for “potting day” at the Park.
The Community and Good Will Gardens were barren, awaiting the planting of veggie and flower seeds, or plants by the hardworking folks who tend the gardens and reap the benefits by late Summer.
I’ve written a few posts about the gardens in the past and you met Mike who reserves two plots every year – one for his veggies and one for his wife’s flowers. I know all these folks are eager to get their fingers into the soil, but right now it is closed due to the pandemic.
I stopped to take a handful of photos before departing the historical area of Heritage Park. I like this old piece of farm equipment behind the Taylor Historical Museum.
I met the fellow who feeds corn to the ducks every morning and we chatted it up a little. I’ve written about him in the past. I mentioned I was doing my virtual 5K because last year he was a volunteer near the last leg of the race. I asked “where are all the ducks?” He said he’d not seen any either and was going to the feed store for more corn. “Well perhaps that will bring them back” I told him.
The very last stop in the historical area was the train station where the weathered boxcar and Fitz’s Caboose share the railroad tracks. The boxcar is in the foreground with the Greenwald Herkimer House in the background, enhanced by the Red Jade Crabtree, one of many flowering trees I saw on my trek. This historic house sells confectionaries and candles.
There was a man walking three beagles (or rather, they were walking him). They went past the caboose, which is next to the replica of the historic George Hand Train Station.
The beagles soon were baying, which piqued the interest of these two large dogs and they immediately stood at attention. Look how warm their owner/handler was dressed on the 9th of May!
Soon I heard them baying a second time, no doubt at this Fox squirrel that I treated to peanuts just a few minutes before – hope he got a chance to enjoy them before scrambling up the nearest tree.
Now it was time for my trek on the walking track.
I glanced at my trusty pedometer just before setting out on the asphalt perimeter path that encircles the non-historical part of the park. I knew from prior races it is 1.2 miles long and about 3,000 steps. I planned to do this walk on the track in conjunction with my steps already taken, in and around the other spots in the Park. It is not as scenic as when the 5K event is held in early June but here are some photos taken along the way.
I asked if I could take this young woman’s photo since it was Mother’s Day weekend and I smiled when I saw her hoodie emblazoned with “Dog Mom”.
Another event cancellation and not doable virtually is the Junior League World Series that has been held at Heritage Park every August the last four decades. This sign touts that event and the smaller signs document each winner since 1981.
I ended up walking 5 ½ miles altogether and that fulfilled my 5K obligation as part of those steps.
Even though it feels as though the rest of the world is shut down, a solitary walk is always enjoyable, especially with so much to see along the way.
[Images of Happy Soles Virtual Run/Walk logo and Fish & Loaves mission from Fish & Loaves website]