Brr, burrs and birds.

bench with snow


What a beautiful day we had today!  A perfect weather weekend with two days of sunshine in a row.  Yesterday, I only walked laps in the snow at Memorial Park because I thought it would be too icy at Council Point Park.   But today I waited until it was above freezing to go out, so I did not have to fear the dreaded black ice on the perimeter path.

It was 33 degrees when I departed the house, but a little blustery.

Earlier in the morning, I had divvied up three large bags of peanuts into Ziploc pouches and I could faintly detect the smell of fresh peanuts wafting from those bags that were stuffed into the cargo pockets of my squall jacket.  All I needed was my furry friends to come eat them, and right at the get-go, there were takers.

After Thursday’s messy weather combo of rain which morphed into wet snow, our official tally is 57.7 inches of snow this year.  The average amount for the same time period is 34.2 inches.  As I neared the cement landing, I was surprised to see just how high the Ecorse Creek has risen as a result of all the snow and torrential rain we’ve been having.  This photo shows the water rising almost to the top of the cement landing.  Usually the ducks seek shelter under the landing in this storm sewer area, but, I guess at this rate of quickly rising water, they’d better duck, or they’ll likely bump their heads on the cement.

cement landing.jpg

Much of Council Point Park was still covered in snow.

snow in park

The stiff breeze was rippling the water in places.  I managed to walk at least halfway through the first looped pathway before I encountered ice and snow on the path – no problem, I just walked alongside the path on the snow.

icy path

Here I saw two Canada geese waddling around looking for a good spot to graze, and occasionally dipping their beak into a snow-covered area.  However, they were good sports about letting me take their picture – usually I get the wing-flapping and hissing (even with the pink tongue flapping away), but they cooperated today.  Give them a few more months, when the goslings are in tow, and they won’t be fit to be around.


While scoping out the elusive heron, who was not hiding in any of the weathered old trees, nor fishing in the water for his brunch, I saw a large flash of white in the sky, then heard two big splashes in the water.  I knew it wasn’t geese as they usually honk incessantly when they are coming in for a landing, so I double-backed and scurried to the other end of the path, hurriedly doling out a few peanuts to a couple of my squirrel pals who were at my heels trying to keep up with me.

Just as I suspected, there were two beautiful mute swans in the water.  One was much smaller, so I guess they were mates.

two swans far

I zoomed in and got a few nice shots of them from afar… the one looks cross-eyed here.

two swans semi

I wanted to get some close-up photos, but the crunch, crunch, crunch of the icy snow under my hiking boots alerted them to my presence right away.  Interestingly, they both came close to the Creek bank where I was standing, occasionally dipping their slender necks into the water.  I wondered how their feathers could be so white with such murky water to swim in and drink from.

header maybe1.jpg

The larger swan came right within a few feet of the bank where I was standing, repeatedly making snorting noises.  I didn’t particularly pay attention to those loud snorts; after all, he had been submerging his head in the water.  Unlike her uncouth counter-part, the smaller swan was behaving in a lady-like manner … no snorting noises from her.

big swan at creek bank.jpg

I must have really piqued the large swan’s interest, as suddenly, he used his huge, black webbed feet to climb up the edge of the Creek bank for an up-close-and-personal-look at the woman who was so intrigued with him.  His head was down, and his mouth was open, and I had to back up pretty quickly, while keeping my eyes trained on him and that very long orange beak.  He was really snorting loudly, and by now I was out of the marshy area and onto the snowy grass.  With the camera in my right hand, I quickly dug into my left pocket and fished out a half-dozen or so peanuts and tossed them onto the ground.  I remembered how that mute swan enjoyed the peanuts the day I was at Dingell Park.

He ambled toward them and away from me, and, with his long neck stretched over, beak opened wide, he grabbed one.  Whew!

swan eating peanuts

But, despite his treat, I was not going to get away so easily as he gave a huge snort, and sent a dirty look my way.

mute swan chasing me.jpg

I beat a hasty retreat and never looked back!

(When I sat down at the computer tonight, I Googled “what type of sounds do mute swans make?”  Since, their moniker is “mute swan”, I was curious – perhaps they make no noises.  I discovered when mute swans are agitated, they make a snorting or hissing noise.  I listened to the audio – yup, that was it! …)

Needless to say, I was happy to be on the perimeter path again and breathed a sigh of relief when a couple of squirrels came running over … squirrels I can handle, the swan not so much.

I remembered to check up into the tree where the rat was hanging by its tail and I sure was happy to discover it is now gone.  So the mystery remains how it got up there, and where did it go?  We may never find out.

While my gaze was focused on scanning the bare trees for signs of the rodent, I heard a lot of quacking.  The trees partially blocked my view, but I could see at least a dozen drakes coming in for a landing on the surface of the Creek.  I edged closer to the bank to get a photo, but once again, my boots pressed into the icy snow, and those ducks were immediately skittish.  They dispersed, darting this way and that, first to the left …

left ducks.jpg

… then to the right …

right ducks

… then they finally regrouped once I hid behind a tree.

ducks in middle.jpg

Pretty clever on my part I thought – it was duck soup!   Those mallards, all males, except one, were quite a sight to see, their iridescent green heads glinting in the sunlight.

I took several shots of the ducks, when out of the corner of my eye I could see one insistent squirrel chomping at the bit for some peanuts.  It was Parker, who didn’t nab me when I first got there and soon he was stepping on the toe of my boot, so I reached into my pocket, without taking my eye from the camera, and I felt something prickly in my fingerless gloves.  I looked down to find burrs were hanging off my coat where I’d traipsed through the swamp grass to get a better view of the swans.

mitts with burrs.jpg

I had to peel those fingerless gloves off and shove them into another pocket, so I didn’t get burrs mixed into the peanuts, nor around the camera lens.  Of course Parker was impatient as I dug around for some peanuts after messing with all my paraphernalia.  Finally, I appeased him.


The sun might have been shining, but it wasn’t really warm enough for bare hands – so it was brr and burrs as a result of birds!

After a glorious walk in the Park, I got home with a sunny disposition, four miles walked and believe it or not – burrs in my britches!

burrs in britches.jpg

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March came in roaring …


… and it must have laryngitis by now since it is has been roaring since early this morning.

Unbelievably, yesterday we were enjoying Spring-like temperatures.  We reached 59 degrees in late afternoon, with weathermen crowing about #Pure Michigan, the slogan for the advertising campaign used to lure tourists to the Mitten State.

February 28th

After finally reaching a record high of 60 degrees, things went downhill very quickly.

In the wee hours of the morn, torrential rain began, which continued until afternoon when the rain suddenly morphed into heavy, wet snow.

March 1st forecast

We’ve had about an inch of snow an hour, even thunder snow and lightening, and an icy mess will ensue tomorrow after the snow machine finally winds down later tonight.

My agenda tomorrow morning won’t be a walk in the Park, tripping along the perimeter path and passing out peanuts to the squirrels, but instead, I’ll be dusting off the shovel once again and getting myself in gear to hoist and heft that heavy snow.

Hopefully this weekend, I’ll get a chance to sneak down to my favorite nature nook, if the perimeter path is not still slickened over with ice and snow.

You know that I’m silently cursing the Groundhog …

[Images from Click on Detroit]

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Tuesday Musings.

Low tech versus high tech is on my mind for this week’s Tuesday Musings.

Since last Tuesday, when I was bemoaning about whacking my knee after running into the wooden trim on the couch, (said couch which has been in that corner for four decades), I had a low-tech “fail” that is worth sharing.

This little gem was my landline speakerphone, which sits near my left elbow, and is handy for when my boss dictates on the fly, or, when I’m on hold, thus eliminating the need to sit with the receiver crunched in between my neck and shoulder for long periods of time.  The phone is from Radio Shack, which filed for bankruptcy and finally went out of business last year.

I don’t know how long the phone was broken as I don’t make that many outgoing calls.  I had spoken to my boss three times last Wednesday as we had a few matters in the hopper and were quite busy.  Later in the day, I went to make an outgoing call, picked up the receiver and a pitiful little squeak was all I heard when I pushed each of the numbered buttons.  There was a dial tone, so I did a low-tech fix and pulled out the port in the wall and in the phone, and tried again.  Nothing.  Later that evening, I read the manual’s troubleshooting section, which said to make sure the button is set to “tone” and not “pulse” … no chance of that button moving on its own since the controls are under the four batteries, and require at least two eating utensils from the cutlery drawer to pry that battery cover off.  But, I checked anyway.  I wrangled the battery plate off, checked the button, which was in the middle, but I took the knife to move the button over just a smidge, and suddenly the button popped off and flew through the air.  “Well, wasn’t that special!” I muttered.

So, until I get a new speakerphone, I have two phones – one next to me for incoming calls, and one across the table to dial out.

Meanwhile, my friend Evelyn upgraded to a new cellphone over the weekend.  We text back and forth quite a bit.  I text from my computer to her phone and she uses her phone to text back.  Her fingers fly over her phone’s QWERTY keyboard and she matches me in speed … except now with her new cellphone, I can only text her 36 characters at a time, even though she may text unlimited characters to me.  Thus, it is a one-sided conversation most of the time as I try be less wordy (which has never been my strong point).  I like simplicity in my life, but reducing my thoughts to 36 characters is pretty darn tough.

What was NOT tough was my walk this morning … another gorgeous day, though I hear the trio of beautiful February days we were promised, may just fall short tomorrow.  The March 1st weather forecast is still looking very ugly, with a couple of inches of rain, followed by snow.

It was the epitome of peace at Council Point Park today.  There were some more new walkers there, and each one, just like me, was immersed in their own thoughts and just enjoying the solitude of a brisk walk in this nature nook.

The squirrels were playing tag with one another, but came running over as I entered the trail.  I pictured them with a thought bubble over their head “Linda’s here!” as they race over to get their treats.  I was still chuckling to myself while thinking about their mindset, when I noticed a pile of shelled peanuts in the middle of the perimeter path.  Hmm – now there’s a luxury from a new benefactor.  I adore my squirrel buddies at the Park and sometimes believe I could claim them as dependents on my income tax with all the peanuts I dole out.  I figured I was treating them royally with jumbo, unsalted peanuts in the shell.  Now they’ll be really spoiled – I hope it doesn’t go to their heads!

I lost count of how many robins crossed my path and the sweet tweets of the songbirds filled the air.  I heard more than one red-winged blackbird calling from their perch in the tall trees, all noises that were soothing to the soul.  The slight rat-a-tat-tat of a tiny downy woodpecker, drilling away in his favorite tree, was the only noise disturbing the tranquil morn.  My head swiveled around trying to locate that industrious little fellow, but he was elusive as usual.  Even the mallards and geese were playing nice, placidly floating along the surface of the water and not raucous as they usually are.  The heron was in his usual corner, busy fishing and paid me no mind, so I gave him a break and left the camera in my pocket.

The usual cast of characters, whether feathered or furry, were present and accounted for, except the bunnies, which I’ve not seen in months.  The regular walkers have still not returned, perhaps still mall-walking or doing the treadmill at home or in a club for now.

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February’s weather has been a real smorgasbord, between the record-high or low temperatures and the gargantuan snow and rain events.  As we creep toward the end of this shortest month of the year, we have a trio of sunny and mild days to enjoy before March arrives in lion-like fashion.  Yup, the early prediction for March 1st has two different weathermen uttering the “S” word – yes “snow” has tumbled from their lips, because two to four inches of snow is on the way!

But, this February day was fabulous, thus my new word I coined above.

All of a sudden, the days are so much longer.  Sunrise was at 7:12 a.m. today and that bright sunshine gave me a chance to get in an extra mile on a weekday.  Of course, all that good stuff will end when we go to Daylight Savings Time on March 11th and return to darker mornings for a while.

The sun made me feel good and I watched my shadow as I strode purposely to the Park.  I wended my way down Pagel Avenue, stewing over whether the rodent would still be hanging by its long tail on the twig in the tall tree.  I wondered if I should call the City to have one of the Department of Public Service workers come with a tall ladder or a cherry picker to retrieve that rodent?

And then I saw him … no, not Parker, or any one of the other peanut pals, but a policeman sitting in his patrol vehicle, monitoring the Park, as they sometimes do, just for a police presence.  I walked past the patrol car and his head was bent down, so I passed by … then, on a whim, decided to go back.  With my bag of peanuts in one hand in anticipation of a squirrel waylaying me, I went to the driver’s side and he rolled down the window.  He was young and gave me a big smile.  I’ll bet this was his easiest task of the day hearing my tale, especially after I prefaced the story with “please don’t think I’m strange to tell you this, but ….”  I relayed the rodent story and asked if he thought it would be wise to contact the DPS to have them take it away because of the germs and disease that rats carry?  I also asked if there were any similar incidents he’d heard of.  He smiled and said “no, I’ve not heard anything like that and I think it is a beautiful and safe park and you shouldn’t worry at all.”   I thanked him and told him to have a good day, then walked up to the pavilion area.

Hungry squirrels rushed right over and I doled out peanuts quickly as I saw a walker – another new face to me, headed in the same direction as I was going.  We commented on the nice weather, and, when we neared that tree, I pointed up and said “look up there!”  (I wanted another opinion on the rodent story. )  He did a double take – yup, he also was puzzled, but said it looked like someone hung it there, then suggested it might even be fake, as a predator bird would have grabbed it by now, but added “how the heck did someone climb way up there?”  “My thoughts exactly!!!” I said.

I’m not going to dwell on it anymore, but you can bet I’ll look up there, out of the corner of my eye, every day when I pass.

Going forward,  I hope I only see cute and furry critters like this squirrel, who tucked himself up in the tree to enjoy his peanut in peace.

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Hold onto your hats everybody!


Just like everything else this Winter season, Mother Nature has done nothing in moderation, and today was no different.

After still more rain last night, we started the day off rocking and rolling with 40 mph wind gusts.  I knew before I went to bed last night that a morning walk was not in the cards.  It is all open spaces at Council Point Park, especially now with the bare trees and bushes.  So, I bided my time to avoid a “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment.

Finally, at 11:30 the wind subsided a bit and I headed out.  Though the wind was about 20 mph, gusting to 25 mph, because I am bullheaded, I was not going to pass up a sunny Sunday just because of a little wind.  I used the big tree across the street to gauge the wind velocity; it was bending and swaying a little … “a little” being the operative words here.

Before leaving, I secured my chullo hat by safety-pinning the straps to my turtleneck sweater as I didn’t want to be chasing it along the perimeter path once I got down to the Park.  As long-time subscribers to this blog know, I’ve had one woolen cap blow off and I chased it down the street as it somersaulted along ‘til it hit a murky-looking puddle.  Still another woolen hat went airborne, sailed over the water and snagged onto a gnarly old tree that bends across the Creek, so it now belongs to whatever critter, probably a squirrel and his missus, who likely use it as a cozy blanket to line their nest all Winter.

Speaking of nests, it amazes me just how solid and sturdy those critters’ nests really are, from the tiniest bird nest in a sapling …


… to a squirrel or crow’s nest atop the tallest tree.  The wind may blow and blow, and those nests always stay put.  Very rarely do you see a nest that has tumbled to the ground.

I know all of you are dying to know if the “creature” was still hanging from its tail up in the tree.  I must confess it creeped me out so much yesterday, and, given the gusty winds today, I avoided that part of the perimeter path, and instead made a detour through the grassy area and later connected to the trail.  Okay, call me a scaredy-cat, but I was not having a rodent, suspended by its tail from a thin twig, drop to the ground during a big gust of wind.  What if it landed on me?  I have enough worries when the geese do a flyover and I am bareheaded.  I always hope they miss me … if you know what I mean.

Tomorrow, when those winds are much calmer, I will stray back over to that tree again.  I still want to know why a predator bird did not see the rodent and take it “to go” … I hope to find it gone tomorrow.

Today, the squirrels remained tucked in their nests, even Parker.  I wonder why?  Perhaps they are afraid of shimmying down the tree trunk when the wind is so gusty?  Or, perhaps the two men who also feed the squirrels arrived earlier than me.  I was the only person on the trail today and much later than my usual time.  I left some peanuts on the picnic table as a sign of life that I’d been there.  The wind shouldn’t push them off the table top as there are ridges and grooves between the wooden boards to line them up.

The  mallards were not bothered by the wind at all, except those ruffled feathers from a particularly gusty puff of air, or, from a fellow mallard who swam too close and infiltrated their brethren’s personal space.  Loud quacking then ensues.  The geese were similarly a no-show, and the old heron I believe was tucked away somewhere, evading me as he believes I’ve become too intrusive with my picture-taking of him lately.

I got four miles done today, some steps by my own two feet, and still others as I rolled like a giant tumbleweed along the pathway.

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Numb and number.


Last Sunday’s walk in the still-snowy Park left me quite giddy.  It was a beautiful, sunshiny day, I walked five miles and took lots of photos which I used in Sunday’s blog post.

The following day, the rain clouds gathered in earnest and a week of incessant rain began.

I got drenched in Monday’s walk, stayed close to home for Tuesday’s trek, Wednesday and Friday were total washouts, and Thursday morning, finally a dry day, was delegated for errands.

It was a week that seemed to get progressively worse as each day passed … and, I don’t just mean the weather.

The national news was not any better, with the aftermath of the Florida shootings taking precedence in the headlines – you’ve read about them too … they made me numb.

The local news was jam-packed with tales of flooding and potholes.  On Thursday, the high school I attended had a massive no-show of students, after rumors ran rampant of a threat of a copycat Florida school shooting.  Later that same day, there were a barricaded gunmen in a Chinese restaurant a mile from my home.  The latter two incidents just made me number.

We were incredibly busy at work this week, and, I told myself that even if it rained this morning, I was going to escape the news of the world, and the confines of the house, to head to Council Point Park for a long walk to reboot my brain.

Well, it didn’t rain this morning, but the sky was very overcast, and it was dreary and dismal looking as I headed out.

Enroute to the Park, I could not help but notice these pretty snowdrops under a big tree.  Every year, they are the first flowers in the neighborhood to poke through the soil.  Their appearance makes me think that Spring cannot be that far off.


Once at the Park, I was surprised to find a few piles of snow in the parking lot, which somehow lingered, despite Tuesday’s mild weather and those multiple bouts of torrential rain.   While I stole a glance at those snow piles, along came a trio of my furry friends, beating a path to meet me.  They didn’t even wait for me to get to the pavilion area.  I hustled them out of the parking lot in case a car came along, then led them over to the water fountain.  After sprinkling out some peanuts, a feeding frenzy soon ensued.  I took out the camera since they were busy eating and got a few pictures, then moseyed along.

Feeding Frenzy at the Fountain

As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, the Creek is now flowing again, with no surface ice.  The docks are no longer embedded in the ice, nor are they covered in snow.

Dock no snow

I stopped in my tracks as I heard a red-winged blackbird singing from the top of this tall tree.  He was easy to spot between the bare branches, his black body silhouetted against the gray sky.  Even by zooming in, I could not get the red and yellow stripes on his wing to stand out.  But, what I could see, was this songbird’s slight fluttering of his wings and throat pulsing each time he trilled his notes.  It reminded me of Summer when these birds are in nearly every tree in the marshy area of the Creek.

Bird in tree1

I saw Parker, my favorite squirrel, or, maybe I should say he saw me first, as I was trying to take some pictures of the red-winged blackbird.  He announced his arrival, since my focus was on taking the picture, by scurrying over to the toe of my boot as he awaited his peanuts.  Of course, I had to take his picture …


… and then, I got a second pose from Parker.  Who could resist such a wistful look that seemed to say “pretty please, could I get my peanuts now?”

Parker1-pretty please

Of course, once you start doling out peanuts, from their perch high up in a tree, or across the walking loop, suddenly all eyes are focused on goodies, like this squirrel, who wanted to know “what’s happening over there?”

Squirrel standing up

I saw Todd, the weekend jogger, way over on the other side of the loop and decided to take his picture since I always mention him in my blog posts.  If you look closely in the background on the left-hand side, Mr. Heron has settled himself into a tree, a different weathered tree than last weekend.

Todd and heron in the background

I walked to the end of the cement landing to get a better look.  Last Sunday I got a flattering picture of him, but he doesn’t look as good today – that bird either had his head tucked under his wing, or has some serious bed head!



I got back on the trail and noticed a dog walker glancing up at a tree.  Even at a distance, I could tell the woman seemed transfixed by what she saw.  Being the inquisitive person that I am, I was going to see what she was checking out, but she nabbed me first.  She said “look up there – does it look like what I think it is?”  I took one look and shook my head in agreement.  She took the words out of my mouth by saying “why is a rat or a mouse hanging by its tail on a tree branch?”  Hmmm.  No one else happened by to help analyze this rather spooky mystery with us.  We surmise the rodent climbed up to the top of the tree, and maybe went into some critter’s nest … but then what happened?  And, yes, in case you were wondering … it was real and it was definitely dead as a doornail.  I hope those gusty winds the weatherman is predicting for tomorrow doesn’t make the branch  break off when I’m walking by.


After a half-hour of chatter, we finally introduced ourselves and were discussing this and that while Biggy, who was growing increasingly bored, kept straining at his leash, occasionally shooting me a look of disdain for holding up his walk and squirrel-chasing efforts.


I know Biggy didn’t quite know what to make of me, and meanwhile Christine and I didn’t know what to make of this scene.  We finally parted, going in opposite ways on the trail.

I decided it was a trifecta for critters-in-the-trees activity.

It might have been a gray day, but not awfully bad for the last weekend in February.  My mission was accomplished:  five miles walked, brain aired out and ready to take on the world again.

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Tuesday Musings.


close up planner page

It was 58 degrees when I left on my walk this morning.  I was glad for that brief respite in the unrelenting rain, which started coming down in sheets shortly after I parked myself in front of my computer on Monday morning.  Luckily, Mother Nature finally turned the spigot off around 8:30 a.m., so I seized that opportunity to get out and get some steps in.  One minute the rain was just pounding on the patio roof, then suddenly that sound was reduced to a light pitter patter, then nothing.  Without the noise of raindrops in the background, I heard the twitters and murmurings of the sparrows who were huddling together, lined up along the bedroom window ledges underneath the patio roof, just as they always do when they seek shelter from a soaking rain.

We’ve had two inches of rain since early Monday afternoon and the weather folks tell us this translates to 20-24 inches of snow.  Well, I for one, am thankful it is not snow; that 9.2-inch Snowmageddon on February 9th was quite enough thank you.  This continuous pouring rain makes you think it might be ark-building time.

Unlike yesterday, I was not willing to rely on the weatherman’s prognostication, after getting soaking wet on yesterday’s walk, so I decided I’d check things out with my own eyes and do my own scientific determination, i.e. I opened the front door, stuck my arm out, palm face up and felt nary a drop, and saw no fog that the weatherman had yammered about either.

I closed the door and was in such a hurry to get going I smacked my knee into the wooden trim on the couch … it’s only been in the same place for decades.  What a klutz!  I skinned my knee just like a five-year old, and had to stop and put a Band-Aid on it since I scraped it raw.  It could be worse –  my good friend throughout our high school and college years had a knee replacement this morning.  I’ll be good as new once the scab heals; Cheryl will take a little while longer ‘til she is stepping out again.

At 58 degrees I was out of the hiking boots, and back in the walking shoes, with no danger of slip-slidin’ away on any ice.  A dark and brooding cloud hung overhead, so I didn’t stray any further than the ‘hood.  I half expected to see worms slithering across the sidewalk, then remembered the ground was still cold from our recent frosty temps and all that snow.  I even took an umbrella this time, but, of course, since I toted it along, it never rained.  It was like a good luck charm I guess.  I got in about 2 ½ miles this morning – not my best effort, but better than a poke in the eye as that saying goes, as every little bit counts toward my year-end total.

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Rainy days and Mondays.


I am grateful for that beautiful weather yesterday, which prompted me to take a five-mile walk and write a post with photos describing that trek, so that you, too, could join me on that journey.

This week we will endure a siege of rain … we have three days in a row of solid rain, a thunderstorm tomorrow and a record-breaking 64 degrees.  There are flood advisories due to all that rain and the snow which must melt and go somewhere.  The weather is beyond wacky this season.

The online Weather Channel said no rain until 11:00 a.m. today, so off I went, sans umbrella, having placed all my faith in this weather authority, and believing three days of walking in a row could boost my mileage stats, which are pitiful so far for 2018.

But, the Weather Channel made a bad boo boo, because after I walked the 3/4s of a mile to the Park and arrived at the pavilion area, it started to mist a bit.  Well, a little mist was no reason to miss a walk because my internal GPS had already programmed my feet toward Council Point Park, so I was staying put.  Furthermore,  I figured I was not made of sugar, so I continued on my journey, the only person walking there by the way.  Halfway through the first loop, it started to drizzle, followed by many splats of rain.  By this time, doubling back to the beginning of my route just made no sense, so I chose to finish that loop and then head home.

So, here’s what the other walkers missed.

The heron was not on terra firma, but he was out of that weathered tree and in his usual spot, feet firmly planted on the Creek bottom, and scanning the water for fish.  I made a point to look at the Creek’s water level and it just met his pale gray underbelly.  The length of those gangly legs was hidden in the murky water.

It was weather for ducks and they were out in abundance, just a stone’s throw away from the heron, paddling their wide webbed feet through the chilly water.  It would have made a nice picture, but the camera was tucked inside my jacket, the rain was falling, and the grass was a slushy mess, and, had I made a misstep, I’d have resembled a swamp creature.  Rainy days and Mondays are tough enough without taking a plunge in the Ecorse Creek.

With the exception of one squirrel who decided a little rain wasn’t going to stop him from snagging a few peanuts, the rest of his brethren stayed cozy in their nests.  I can’t say that I blame them.  They probably knew I’d leave a pile of peanuts as my calling card on the picnic table before I left.  Kind of a modern twist on “Kilroy was here”.


[Image from Emmzett at Pixabay]

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Good day sunshine.

mallards on water at end

The early morning news reported much slippin’ and slidin’ on the roads from that pesky dusting of snow, so I figured, just as I’d suspected, there would be no meanderings in the Park for me today.

But, when I got ready to go out and sweep the snow and run the car, I looked outside first and was pleasantly surprised to find all the snow had melted.  The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining – what more could anyone want on the third Sunday in February, after a Winter that has been so harsh?  In record time, I suited up,  grabbed the camera and stuffed some Ziploc bags of peanuts into my pockets and off I went.

Mercifully, the streets and sidewalks were dry and ice-free, thanks to that bright sunshine.  While I wasn’t happy the Groundhog saw his shadow a few weeks ago, it sure felt good to see my own shadow as I walked along.  The snow, which was so pretty last weekend, is now streaked with street dirt and reduced to rivulets racing toward, and gurgling through, the sewer drains.

At Council Point Park, yesterday’s icy patches along the perimeter path were gone, and, where the sun had not yet melted last night’s snow, I walked alongside the trail to risk falling on ice hidden by the light dusting of snow.

Saturday morning might have been too cold for the majority of the Park squirrels to come down from their cozy nests, but not today.  A trio of squirrels came racing over to see me as soon as I reached the pavilion area.

I greeted my little buddies and scattered some peanuts, then propped my pocket open so I could access peanuts easily with one hand, so I could try to take some photos.

In some areas, the snowpack is still high.


squirrel in snow1

squirrel in snow

The newly fallen snow had settled onto the iced-up portions of the Creek, as well as the wooden docks along the Creek banks.

dock in snow

Another slew of squirrels came to see me and one was hovering near my shoe while I was trying to take a photo, so I doled out some peanuts and watched as they each grabbed one eagerly.

squirrel at shoe.jpg

Across the snow-covered grassy area, one squirrel saw all the action, and not wanting to miss out on it, stood up for a better look.

squirrel peanuts for me.jpg

He apparently liked what he saw (not necessarily me of course, but that bag of peanuts sure was a draw), so I shook the bag and said “c’mon over here and get some” so he scampered over right away.  Really – like you needed an invitation?

squirrel running

The third time I stopped for a peanut-induced feeding frenzy, I had four squirrels close by waiting for handouts.  I decided this was a good photo opportunity, so I dropped a load of peanuts.  However, trying to get all four squirrels in the picture without one scurrying away to bury the peanut or take it “to go” was impossible.  So I settled for two squirrels in the photo.

squirrels on the trail

This little guy stepped away from the maddening crowd and climbed into this short tree, where he chomped on his peanut.

squirrel in tree

I was taking that close-up shot of him, when Todd, the weekend jogger, came by.  He said “if you’re taking photos, how about that big heron in the old dead tree over there?”  He pointed and my eyes could just not hone in that heron within all the dead wood in the old tree across the Creek.  Then I saw him, nearly camouflaged by the weathered branches.  Can you see him?

heron in the branches

I excused myself and left the trail, saying I had to get closer and hopefully I didn’t slide into the Creek in doing so.  This is about as close as I dared to go as I stood on the cement landing.  I’m sure that heron saw me coming down the trail, so he flew up into that tree.  If there was a thought bubble over his head, it read “I’ll fix her – she always wants a close-up picture, distracting me while I’m trying to find my breakfast!”

I zoomed in and took about twenty shots of him, hoping at least one came out that did not resemble a bluish-gray blob on a branch.  I was pleasantly surprised.

heron best

The mallards were milling around the cement landing where I was standing.  They usually go into the drain underneath the ledge for protection in the Winter months.  The Ecorse Creek is much wider right here, the current is swift, and, unless it is below-freezing temps, the water generally stays ice-free.


ducks in water2.jpg

ducks on the snow

There were several walkers on the trail today and I didn’t know any of them.  I stopped to chat with two men who were watching me feed the squirrels, and they told me they walk around 11:00 a.m. daily.  They’d recently seen an eagle flying over Council Point Park, as well as snakes in the Summer near where I had walked down to the take the picture up at the very top of this blog post.  Yikes!  I go down there all the time to gaze at the water.  Maybe I’ll gaze from the trail going forward.

My last pit stop was in the pavilion area where I glanced at the picnic table and saw shells and red skins that remained from the peanuts I left there yesterday.  Since my treats were discovered, I left some more for the squirrels who slept in this morning.

picnic table1

It was a great day – sunshine, clear and dry pavement, just perfect … plus I walked five miles today, which was even better!

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How sweet it is …


No, this is not another post about delectable donuts or bonbons and blooms, but … it was just nice to get out and about on a mid-Winter day, without tippy-toeing across the treacherous ice, or shoveling mounds of snow.

It was the first day the car and yours truly ventured out since February 3rd due to the never-ending snow and ice.  I put four miles on both the car and my feet.

It was early morning and the sky was layered in pretty pastels, ribbons of pink and blue like baby shower décor when the gender is still a mystery.  I had the camera with me, but I was still in the neighborhood, so did not have a clear view of the sky.  I guess I’ll carry the image of those gorgeous colors in my mind instead.

As I rolled along River Drive toward Council Point Park, I saw a single soul huffing and puffing along the perimeter path – that would be Todd, who never misses his weekend jogs, no matter the weather.  So, I knew my trek today would take me out of the neighborhood and to the “naturehood” just as those public service announcements from suggest you should do.

Since I packed my jacket pockets with Ziploc bags of peanuts, I was hoping the path would be clear enough for a walk at my favorite nature nook.  Those bags peeked out of my pockets, ready to dole out to my furry peanut pals – after all today is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

I was glad I wore my hiking boots with the lug soles in anticipation of some potential icy patches along the perimeter path.  The walking shoes just don’t cut it when ice is present, even though I have long legs and can step over most of it, but why take a chance?  With the hiking boots, I simply hop off the trail and walk in the snow when I encounter glare ice.

I wasn’t at the Park long until I pulled out that first Ziploc bag of peanuts, so I was ready for my “admirers” but they were strangely absent.  In fact, I was halfway around the first loop, wiggling my bag of peanuts as I walked, just as I usually do, when suddenly I saw one of my furry pals scrambling over toward me.  He was running quickly, his sharp claws sliding on the glazed pathway, those small paws skidding this way and that.  “Take your time!” I told him.  “I’m not going anywhere and it seems that you are I are the only two in this peanut game today anyway.”

I dumped a pile of peanuts at his feet, as if he were a little prince, and he snagged one in record time and happily started munching.  I wondered if he was “Parker” my favorite squirrel who joins me on the trail, or beside my car, as soon as he sees me.  He has no distinguishing features, just his loyalty, which rates high with me.  I stayed there thinking his missing pals would come over lickety-split, but they stayed away, perhaps up in their nests.  He grabbed another peanut, cracking it and clearly enjoying it, while sitting companionably at my feet.  Before I left, I slipped him a few more to take up into his tree, telling him “better squirrel them away little buddy, as Winter’s sure not over yet.”

I moseyed along then hit the trail at a good pace since there was a long stretch that was ice-free.  It was so peaceful in the Park, albeit a little desolate looking these days.

But soon the peace was disturbed by bird calls.  First, it was a couple of angry crows, buzzing overhead and squawking incessantly, then the jays started in, at least a half-dozen of them, screeching from up in a tall tree.  The jays were clearly agitated about something because they were dive-bombing around the tree, and swooping in and out of it with no rhyme or reason.  I wondered if they feared the crows, or, they were aware of a predator of some kind, like a hawk or a falcon.  I scanned the sky for telltale signs of either of these predator birds, but saw nothing.  I left the jays some peanuts on the trail, and noticed the next time around, they were all gone.  Then I remembered my jay back at the house – the sidewalks and driveway were treacherous for a good four days last week, so I wasn’t interacting with him, as I walked as few steps as possible.    I decided to look for him when I returned home.

I left the jays behind, and near the cement landing there was a mess of mallards in the only portion of the Creek that was not frozen over.  They were quacking their heads off, and some had stepped onto the ice and were snoozing or preening themselves.  I was rattling another bag of peanuts for anyone who was interested, and must have spooked a heron, who suddenly flew up out of nowhere and took flight, a blur of gray as it headed down the narrow Ecorse Creek passageway.

Two entire trips around the Park and I was about ready to head home.  It wasn’t the sunniest of days, but at least it was cold and dry … that is ‘til we get that promised dusting of snow tonight.  Any snow can stay away in  my opinion.

Before I departed the Park, however, I had one more stop.  I left about ten peanuts along the grooves in the picnic table under the pavilion roof.  Treats for a rainy day for the gang.  We’ll have a couple of those rainy days on Monday and Tuesday, along with temps in the low 60s, which means Mother Nature is just going a little wacky.

On this Random Acts of Kindness Day, here’s a quote to make  your new mantra …

Kindness should become the natural way of life.  Not the exception. ~Buddha


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