I love alliteration and this blog post title pretty much sums up Southeast Michigan’s not-so-wonderful weather since the beginning of the year. I am mindful that Mother Nature’s mood swings are wreaking havoc nationwide and I am grateful we didn’t receive this latest Winter wallop. Right now, it is Sunday afternoon and while writing this post, the furnace is chugging away as we experience our third Polar air mass in 2022.
I did walk this past weekend and admit it was uncomfortably cold, despite donning multiple layers of clothing. I was at Council Point Park both days. Saturday I slipped down to Dingell Park when the temperature was 12 F (-11 C), with a real feel of 6 F (-14 C). Bundled up or not, boy that north wind was a killer. I’ll have some photos of my brrrrrrisk walk near the frozen Detroit River in this week’s Wordless Wednesday post.
We’ve had a roller-coaster ride weather-wise, so the freeze-thaw cycle has been off the charts; soon potholes will be popping up everywhere. We started out with a wintry mix in the early morning of January 2nd and, though the snow was pretty and pristine, we were left with a coating of ice. My street was treacherous. I ventured out to the street one morning and decided it too icy, so I came back into the house. I didn’t walk for an entire week.
When I finally made it to Council Point Park the following Saturday, the 8th, we had frigid temps, but I decided to brave the ice and cold at mid-day. It took me 20 minutes to get dressed for what would be a two-mile round trip walk to the Park and a one-mile perimeter path/loop. Hefting my bag of squirrel and bird treats, in lug-soled boots, I picked my way around my icy street, then when I arrived at the cross-street, much to my chagrin, I discovered it was totally ice-free. Wending my way down Pagel Avenue was wonderful, as it was also clear to the cement. The Park’s parking lot and perimeter path had similarly been plowed and salted. Oops! I felt terrible that I’d not ventured farther than the end of my driveway in a solid week, but with Omicron stats surging here in Michigan, I was not going to risk taking a tumble on the ice and breaking a bone.
I decided to lavish treats on my furry and feathered friends to make up for my absence, so I brought hazelnuts and walnuts, along with the usual fare of peanuts and sunflower seeds. I’m reserving the remaining suet and birdseed bell in case we get another Arctic blast in February.
I was greeted like a long-lost friend as the squirrels scurried over to see me. I sweet-talked them a little as I spread out their treats at each of the three spots. Sweet-talkin’ USUALLY never hurts anyone, but those puffs of warm breath under my N95 mask caused my glasses to fog up (despite the anti-fogging spray application). Soon tiny rivulets of water were traveling down the lenses and making a glaze on them, so I’m not sure I could tell Rex the Woodpecker from a Cardinal or Blue Jay. The ever-charming Parker could always step on my toes or tug at my sweatpants if my glasses were too fogged up to see him. I decided against removing my mask and thankfully, I made it home in one piece, despite seeing about 50% at best.
From “freezy” to “breezy” in 24 hours.
That evening we had freezing rain – oh joy … well, there goes the walking again. Very early Sunday morning, the 9th, it was a crystalline landscape. The traffic reporter cautioned listeners about treacherous driving, while the weatherman assured us “by mid-day it should be balmy.” Sure enough, by noon, the sun was out, the ice was gone and I knew I could shed at least six articles of clothing for that mid-day walk as it was 37 F (2 C).
It was easy navigating to the Park, but once I was there the wind picked up. The gusty wind was buffeting me and I flipped my coat hood up to secure my hat from going airborne and headed home posthaste. Once home I learned the wind gusts were 24 mph (39 kph). Yikes! That night we plunged into the Deep Freeze for another two days.
But … good things come to those who wait.
The very next day, Wednesday, the 12th, it was 25 degrees warmer than the day before! So I seized that opportunity to get five miles walked at the Park and strolling around the ‘hood.
Not all portions of the Ecorse Creek were frozen as you see below. You will see some geese were swimming, others standing on ice.
While walking on the path, I heard the ice cracking. There was an ice floe where a trio of Mallards were huddled together, their bright-orange feet in contrast to the ice.
Around the bend, near the cement ledge over the sewer drain, a quick glimpse toward the water told me why at least two dozen Mallards were noisily congregating.
They were there to score breakfast.
A not-so-ducky event.
The seagulls had been buzzing around overhead and screeching their heads off just before the holidays. I also saw them sitting on the surface of the water like this many times.
From nearly nine years of walking at this venue, I knew the shad were running. Shad are small feeder fish and the seagulls, ducks and geese converge at the Creek and Detroit River to eat them.
The frigid weather caused the Creek to ice over and without oxygen, the shad did not survive. Shad bodies littered the shoreline, their lifeless eyes staring upward. Even more dead shad were bobbing on the Creek’s surface, much to the delight of the ducks. Ewwwww!
Through the years I’ve watched the waterfowl wrangling these shad, dead or alive. I’ve come to the conclusion it takes some dexterity to maneuver a shad into a beak and down the hatch and I’ve done a few picture-laden posts about it in the past. In this instance, there were plenty of dead fish, so there was no fighting.
As you see below, Mrs. Mallard clearly had the prowess to snag the biggest fish.
Mr. Mallard didn’t do too badly either, though it looks like he was getting some hints from the Missus.
I added this wee bit of whimsy to my walk in the ‘hood.
I’ve always been fascinated with this home and its touches of whimsy. You see they have a Certified Wildlife Habitat sign. I similarly had a sign in my yard when I provided food, water and shelter in a sanctuary for the birds and butterflies; this was before back-to-back Polar Vortexes ravaged my backyard garden. So, I wondered if this is why the pumpkins were lined up at the edge of the property? You can see the critters have been gnawing on them before snow coated the tops and recesses of these orange orbs.
I was amazed to see the Flowering Kale were still thriving, some still in their pots. Were they also left there for the miscellaneous and sundry critters to chomp on? Maybe the next time I’m considering hardy flowers to plant, these would be a good choice.
The homeowners obviously love birds, from the line-up of bird feeders …
… to this peaceful sign in the garden.
I’ve taken photos at this home in Spring when multiple gardens erupt with pale pink tulips and at the height of Summer when yard art peeks out between the perennials. These concrete critters embedded in the ivy groundcover look no worse for the wear from our wacky weather.
This guy reminds me of warmer days.
How I wish it was a hot August day and I was at the Park watching a line of Painted Turtles plop off the log, one by one, after they catch sight of me. I have remarked to a few fellow bloggers this past week that I vow not to moan and groan about August’s heat and humidity, as those whiny words haunt me on a frigid day in Winter.
This was my last stop and it lightened my mood as I knew the next day we’d be back to frigid mode, once again with an anticipated wintry mix ushering in black ice – ugh! I guess I’ll just keep creepin’ along like this guy through the gray and gloomy days that so define this season.