I was on “cloud nine” this morning because …

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… finally, the rain and heat took a hike.  I hurried out of the house as soon as it was light outside.

But, I opened the door to a mottled-looking sky and immediately thought “not this again” as it sure looked like it would pour any minute.  The song “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” rambled through my brain.  It sure didn’t look too inviting with a sky that seemed to be a bit conflicted, as it was half gray and half blue.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO

I ventured out anyway, even foregoing the umbrella and putting my faith in the weatherman.  The clouds were crisscrossing the sky as my feet followed that familiar trek to Council Point Park.

STRANGE SKIES

As I walked along, the odd-looking sun you see up top, made a valiant effort to peek through the clouds.  I guess Ol’ Sol was absent today.  On Wednesday, several school districts cancelled classes as it they had no A/C in the classrooms, so the kids were excused on the second full day of school.  I wonder how they classify this “off day” from school?  In Winter, you have a “snow day” or, if it is brutally cold with wind chills below zero, the schools also close.  So would this be a “heat day”?  A yellow school bus chugged by, its diesel smoke leaving soft gray puffs in the already dull-looking morning.  It was carrying a load of kids whose faces were either sleepy or bored.

As I wended my way through the ‘hood, it dawned on me what else has been amiss on my daily jaunts.  I’ve seen only a few  chalk art drawings and that was months ago.  The past few years, I was always capturing images of the whimsical artwork on sidewalks and driveways and featuring it in my blog posts.  I suspect we’ve had rain so much, the kids decided not to waste their time doodling in pastel chalks or the newfangled spray chalk, to create a drawing that will be running down the sewer grate before anyone gets to admire it fully.  Also, incredibly I only saw one of the decorated rocks this year at any of the parks I’ve frequented, so perhaps the painted rock craze is over.

It is a week today since I was at the Park and there was some road construction on the street I usually take, which forced me to zig-zag all over Pagel Avenue.  I really don’t know why they ripped it up since it was under construction a good eighteen months over 2016 and into 2017.  I’ll bet those folks are mad, as they finally got their landscaping looking good again, only to have it torn apart.  I saw the street filling up from a small stream of water as a hose was draining from a homeowner’s backyard – someone decided no more pool time in 2018.  A few birds fluttered around the hose as the water slowly trickled out.  Just another sign that Fall is on the way … that draining hose, and the sadly mangled or deflated pool toys poking out of the garbage cans on garbage collection day.

Once I arrived at the Park, I hoped I did not have to re-introduce myself to Parker in case he forgot me, but no worries.  You should believe that expression that “absence makes the heart go fonder” because just as I crossed River Drive and entered the parking lot, there was my little fella, racing toward me.  Yes, I wanted to bend down and pat him on the head, like he was a faithful dog, but I resisted.  I lavished peanuts on him, and, just like before, he is in “hunting and gathering mode” and decided to plan for the Winter ahead, so he grabbed two peanuts “to go” before I got to sweet talk him.  I watched his paws flipping the dirt aside, busily digging a hole, but he didn’t return to me, nor his pile of peanuts, so I continued on my journey.

I walked the first loop, passing out peanuts on the left and the right-hand sides of the path, providing breakfast and who knows … maybe a mid-Winter snack as well.  Then I headed to the second walking loop.  I wanted to check out the snapping turtle’s nest to see if the babies had hatched.  It was still intact though I noted a few fissures on the surface.

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You’ll recall the huge snapping turtle dug a nest and laid her eggs back on June 13th.  When I researched how long it would take for the eggs to hatch, I discovered those turtles will break out of their leathery shells and hit the ground running after 80-90 days.  So you don’t have to pull out your calculator, those turtle babies should hatch between September 1st and 11th.  I’m sure all this heat has baked them in their underground nest, so they had excellent conditions for the incubation period.  I would love to walk by and see all those baby turtles scrambling across the pathway to the Creek, just about 20 feet away, but unfortunately it may happen overnight.

I was in the middle of the second loop, about to round the corner, when I saw a dark object in my peripheral vision – hmmm, a wild turkey perhaps?  People have been spotting those gobblers and posting their pictures of them on the local Facebook crime site.  Those turkeys may not be dangerous, but more of an oddity around here.  Well, this brown object ran like greased lightning but this was no turkey, it was a woodchuck.  Yes, they look nothing alike and yes, I have new glasses … go figure.  But, I took off after it, traipsing across the grass, then belatedly hoping I’d kicked up no loose ticks or chiggers in my quest for a photo for today’s post.  Fancy that – me a paparazzi on the tail of a woodchuck.  But, this critter was not in a mood for posing, or any interaction, because, in the blink of an eye, he disappeared either into a burrow or the bushes.  Maybe next time.

It’s already Friday and whenever we have a long weekend, it always takes me a day or two to re-adjust my mind to what day it really is.  Well, Friday works for me, and the weather outlook for this weekend is just so-so.  Saturday promises no rain, but no sun either, and we’ll have a rainy Sunday, with those raindrops lingering into Monday morning.  Sigh.

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I’d like a redo of Summer please.

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Summer has really gotten on my  nerves and I wish we could just rewind to Memorial Day weekend and give it another go.  I’ve spared you my most-recent weather whining and instead grumbled to myself, or to other Summer 2018 malcontents, who similarly whined about their hot, humid or rainy weather woes.

I wanted to write a post on Labor Day about a longtime bucket list item of mine, doing the five-mile walk across the Mackinac Bridge, but a succession of storms on Monday had me shutting down my computer repeatedly, so I finally just gave up, unplugged and went to bed.  I’ll hold that thought ‘til Labor Day 2019 if you don’t mind.

But I’ve been here … just not writing about my morning trips.  Heck, I figured you didn’t want to hear about how I am lurking in the frozen food aisles, amongst the Klondike bars and the Totino’s pizza rolls.  Once in a while, I’d sidle past the canned peas or creep around the Halloween candy just to keep the trek fresh and interesting.

While the grocery store has provided an outlet to escape the oppressive heat and humidity, this morning I decided to return to Council Point Park … it was only 68 degrees, and I was more than ready for a meet-and-greet with the furry darlings, and besides, I have to monitor whether the baby snapping turtles have emerged from their nest yet – according to my calculations, it should happen this week.

But a trip to the Park didn’t happen AGAIN.  I was laden down with peanuts, and to err on the side of caution, carrying my big umbrella.  I only made it to the end of the driveway when the rain started.  I turned and stomped back into the house, foiled again by Mother Nature.

So … what do I do?

Perhaps I could write an editorial to The New York Times to air my grievances?  We know the power of the press works for some people.

I doubt there is a customer service number for Mother Nature.  I can’t ask Siri, but Google could certainly help me out … Google knows everything.

The all-wise-and-wonderful Google provided me 586,000,000 results … these are names of companies or products.  (P.S. – Hey Mother Nature, you’d better check on these folks that they are not using your name without permission.)

Alas, Mother Nature has no toll-free number or an e-mail address, not even a “contact me” page.  She wants to dodge the snide remarks or criticisms … she is a smart cookie isn’t she?  But occasionally, there might be some praise, unless that goes solely to the weather folks?

So instead, I took out my aggressions on the keyboard, pounding those keys as I zipped off this post.  I mustn’t press down too hard on the keys because the letters, numbers and characters are already wearing off in some places.

We’ll try again tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’ll just trot off to work … that doesn’t require waiting on the bus in inclement weather, no umbrellas turned inside out or a snow-encrusted face when I walk in the door.  It won’t even be a bad hair day.  Nope, these days it simply means clicking open another tab and sitting here in my bunny slippers.

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Trail mix.

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I really look forward to my weekend excursions, when I can expand my horizons to explore a little more, take extra pictures, and I don’t have to be watching the clock to be back home for work.  So, yesterday I did a different type of morning meander.  Instead of walking solo, I decided to take a pair of organized nature walks through Lake Erie Metropark.  This is only my fourth time to visit this very large park and I thought it would be fun to explore the woodsy trails as opposed to walking along the Lake Erie shoreline and taking in the sights from there.

When I made the reservation for the “Coffee Club” I was told this group meets once a month and it is fun, informal and these same folks had been gathering for coffee and donuts, then setting out on a nature walk for about twenty years.  So, how cool is that … all these walkers and nature lovers – yup, it sounded right up my alley.

I left earlier than usual and the sun had just risen, a fiery ball of fire in the morning sky.  If only we could have skipped the heat and humidity, it would have been perfect, but at least it didn’t rain … well the rain event came later, thankfully.

I turned off West Jefferson into the sprawling Lake Erie Metropark grounds.  There were at least two dozen Canada geese and some goslings grazing by the road.   It was such a peaceful sight.  As I traveled the long and winding road to get to the Marshlands Museum, in the still-dim light I saw a doe about thirty feet ahead of me.  How I wished I could have whipped out the camera and got its picture, but it paused for just a second, then loped away and disappeared into the nearby brush.  So, that little bit of nature nirvana made my day.  I don’t think I’ve seen deer in the wild, since we visited Algonquin Park when I was a youngster.  I would later learn that the deer was not scampering across the road to provide me a potential photo op, but instead many people are feeding them corn, so the deer contingent hopes that the next carload of visitors to the Park may be providing them breakfast.   (Actually, feeding any of the Park’s critters is forbidden here.)

So here are some tidbits from the trail …

Trek number one.

As mentioned above, the “Coffee Club” members meet monthly for coffee and donuts at the Marshlands Museum.  Once fortified with a treat and some java, off they go on a nature hike.  One of the Park guides leads the pack and is full of tidbits about the flora and fauna along the way.  Though I was the new kid on the block, the rest of the group welcomed me into the fold and we chatted amicably as we started out on the trail.

Our guide was Paul, who has worked at the Park for a quarter of a century, and he not only filled our heads and eyes with info along the trail, but entertained us as well.  Paul had just returned from a hiking vacation in the Bruce Peninsula at Georgian Bay, Canada.  Coincidentally, this is where my boss is this weekend, in a cabin near Wiarton.  Many years ago I visited Georgian Bay at a family friend’s cottage in Collingwood and it’s a beautiful area.

Our first stop was to pause by a raised garden bed just outside the Marshlands Museum, where we watched a Monarch butterfly caterpillar inching along a leaf.  Then we headed to the actual nature trail.  There are multiple nature trails at Lake Erie Metropark and this one is named the Cherry Island Trail.  Thankfully, there was a bit of a breeze since the humidity was 95% and the temperature 75 degrees when I left the house.

I have always liked Black-Eyed Susans and here was a large patch of them.

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The abundance of yellow continued as we went forward, only this time it was Goldenrod.  Paul explained that most people blame their Summertime allergies on Goldenrod, when it is really Ragweed, a very common and ordinary-looking weed, which causes all our red-eye and sniffling miseries.

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In the background you see tall reeds with frothy-looking tips and they lined this paved path.

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They are an invasive plant that is known as Phragmites and some are ten feet tall or more.  You can see how high they are near this lotus pond.

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Just before we turned into a woodsy area with a grassy walking trail, Paul showed us a crayfish burrow or “chimney”, which was essentially a dirt mound with a hole about two inches in diameter where the crayfish pops into and it leads right to the marshy water.  Snakes sometimes misappropriate these burrows for themselves … it was empty though, as it had sustained some damage, so no crayfish or snakes found here.

first walking trail

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There was some beautiful birdsong by a bird I’ve never heard before.  I looked up in the trees but I couldn’t see any birds up there.

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This trail was woodsy and peaceful and our next stop was to visit the lotus beds on either side of the pathway.  Paul referred to this area as a dike because the pathway comes between the two areas of the marsh.

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One side of the path provided a primo, up-close view of those beautiful lotuses that I told you about last month in my post “Lovely Lotuses”  https://lindaschaubblog.net/2018/08/04/lovely-lotuses/

Even though the peak season for lotuses has already passed, they were still blooming, with many buds yet to open.  Paul advised that these delicate lotus blooms only last two days after they open.

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They sure were beautiful.  I hope the photograph captures the size of the leaves here – they look as large as an elephant’s ear.

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As we walked across a wooden bridge over the marsh, my head was swiveling back and forth – what do I look at first?  On the left was a marshy body of water, and on the right, I was watching a kayaker and some mallards navigating the thick algae bloom along the Lake Erie/Detroit River shoreline.  Suddenly, a group member cried out “look at the egret!”  Well, there he was, sitting in the tree, a bright-white slash in the nondescript background.  I zoomed in on him with the camera, but he was clear across the marsh.  He didn’t seem to mind this passel of people gawking at him while he alternately preened, then gave us a profile from the left, then the right.

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There were several opportunities to cross wooden bridges which rose above the many marshy areas.  Barn swallows flitted everywhere and we were told that they were nesting beneath these bridges.

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There were also long stretches where we walked through woodsy areas that ran parallel to the water and that shade was a welcome respite from the hot sun.

Here are some more pictures of the scenic trail.

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At Council Point Park, there are pond lilies.  Their leaves are very large and rest upon the surface of the Ecorse Creek.  They have blooms, but they are smaller than a lotus bloom and sit right on the lily pad.  I often scan those pond lilies for frogs as I hear them croaking in the still of the morning, but I’ve yet to see one.  But, as our group crossed a wooden walkway, we peered into the water that is covered with different types of pond lilies, and we were lucky enough to see the proverbial frog sitting on a large lily pad.  He made no sounds and blended right into the leaves.  Can you see him?

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Here’s a close-up …

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There were also tiny frogs sitting on smaller water lilies, only these are an invasive type of lily pad, coincidentally called European frog-bit.   I swear there was a tiny frog here when I took this picture, but I can’t find him now.

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We walked and chatted while absorbing facts, but all too soon our trek was over and we were back at the Marshlands Museum.  I returned to the raised garden to find that caterpillar and get its picture, but he evidently was munching away and hidden under some leaves.  I did find a horned caterpillar and there was a beautiful butterfly hovering over the flowers.  I thought it was a Monarch, but was told by a group member it was a Viceroy, which resembles a Monarch.  It’s the first time I’ve seen this species of butterfly.  Unfortunately, getting a butterfly to pose is not as easy as tossing a few peanuts out to one of my squirrel pals.   These were my best out of about fifteen shots.

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I wished I could have nudged him (or her), with the unfortunate tear in one wing, to go over to a greener and prettier leaf than this one.

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Trek number two.

I enjoyed myself so much on the “Coffee Club” nature hike, I decided that I’d go on another interpretive walk.  This trek focused on “Pesky Plants” and there were only two of us, along with our guide Kevin.  Once again we started out on the Cherry Island Trail on a paved path, where we saw buckthorn which has overtaken much of the wooded area.  As its name suggests, it is thorny and reminded me of a Pyracantha bush I have.  It is difficult to prune due to its thorny nature and will grow out of control if you don’t keep it tamed.  We saw the Phragmites invasive reeds then turned onto the natural pathway and the wooded area.  Kevin pointed out a frilly white weed/wildflower which I recognized as Queen Anne’s Lace.  What I didn’t know is that this plant could be “beheaded” and those frilly blooms battered and fried up to make it taste like an elephant ear pastry.  Who knew?

We alternately passed over several marsh overlooks as we wove our way along the trail.  Occasionally we’d walk on the gravel roads which were found in more shaded areas (thankfully), then we’d be back into the full sun again.  By now it was 11:00 a.m. and getting steamy.  The egret had tired of entertaining the Marsh visitors, but, in its wake, we saw what Kevin identified as a Cormorant, a large dark-brown bird with a huge wingspan that flew over our heads.  We also saw a pair of Common Terns, but they, too, zipped by quickly before I had to chance to take their photo.

It was an enjoyable morning and yielded a wealth of pictures and info to sock away in my brain for future trips to Lake Erie Metropark.

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It’s been feeling Fallish …

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… for a couple of days anyway.  It’s not like the frost is on the pumpkin, or anything quite that dramatic, but the pumpkin goodies are on the store shelves and Starbucks is offering up its pumpkin latte, which tells you there’s a hint of Autumn in the air.  The porch pots, brimming with jewel-colored chrysanthemums, were on display at Meijer when I was there earlier in the week.  To me, when mums kick the flowering annuals to the curb, it always signifies that Autumn is near.

College football starts today, thus the annual rivalry between Michigan’s foremost teams begins anew.  While strolling through the ‘hood, I passed ornamental cement geese wearing hoodies emblazoned with “U of M” or “MSU” and collegiate garden flags were flapping in the breeze.

Thursday morning it was almost twenty degrees cooler and much less humid than twenty-four hours before.  It was actually chilly and very overcast.  I almost declared it officially “sweater weather” but this delightful respite once again will not stick around long – heat and humidity return Saturday morning as Summer rages on.

As I walked to Council Point Park these last two days, I couldn’t help noticing the many leaves littering the lawns and sidewalks, all courtesy of that nearly month-long drought we had in July.  The tall oaks are spilling acorns onto the sidewalks and the squirrels are industrious, scrambling to get them and stuffing their cheeks until they look like they have the mumps.  It is also amusing to see them clutching onto pinecones and nibbling delicately at those wood-like “petals” … perhaps the chillier air has put them into hunting-and-gathering mode, as they scurry to and fro across my path, foraging for food while the goin’ is good.  Those squirrels remember all too well our wicked Winter of 2017-2018, when Mother Nature cranked up the snow machine on December 9th and she was having so much fun, she forgot to press the “stop” button until April!

I checked out the horse chestnut tree, but it looks the same with its pendulous, fruit-like chestnuts on nearly every branch.  I am eager to see what they look like when they ripen.

When I returned to Council Point Park yesterday, after an absence of only three days, my favorite squirrel, Parker, came racing over to see me.  Yup, I wanted to scoop him up and say I was sorry I’d not been by due to the heat.  He pranced and danced around my feet, then stood on his haunches, eagerly awaiting his treat, so I lavished peanuts on him.  He grabbed two in his front teeth and headed across the parking lot to the spot he always goes to hide them.  All I saw next was a furry tail sticking straight up in the air.

I stepped onto the walking trail, then chatted with a few other walkers about the weather, always a common topic, then doled out peanuts along the way to my other furry pals.  On the second loop, I put away the camera as not much happens on that side.  But, I was premature in tucking it away.  There was a black squirrel on the path ahead of me, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.  As I’ve mentioned countless times, the black squirrels in the neighborhood, and at the Park, are notorious for either rebuffing your efforts to give them peanuts, or, they bolt as soon as they see the whites of your eyes.

However, as I neared this cute little creature, he came over to see me on his own accord.

CHECKING ME OUT

No coaxing, or cajoling, nor tossing out peanuts.

I wanted to feel his forehead.

Timid at first, he hung out around the tips of my shoes, like we were best buds or longstanding pals, like Parker and me.  So, where was that skittish personality I’ve encountered with all the black squirrels in the past?  It sure wasn’t evident.

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I bent down and tossed out a few peanuts onto the path.

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The Park was full of walkers yesterday and today, all of us enjoying the cool and refreshing air after the relentless heat and humidity we’ve endured all Summer.  They saw me stopped on the trail and moseyed over to see what I was doing.

Well, what I was doing was sweet talkin’ this little guy and bending down closer to his level to give him more peanuts.  After an initial reluctance, where once he dashed into the bushes, he soon ventured out again and stayed put to enjoy his treat.  Slowly, I retrieved the camera so I wouldn’t spook him and could get his picture.  More walkers marveled at this little black squirrel sitting there so contentedly, especially Mike who feeds the squirrels and he said “I’ve never seen one of those  black squirrels take peanuts, or even come up close to any of  us.”

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I stayed there with him, clicking off a lot of shots, but it was quite gray yesterday and the trees and bushes shaded the pathway.  In fact, I had a few shots of him where he looked slightly demonic with bright-red eyes.  I wonder if he is older, judging from those pesky white hairs intermingled with the jet-black fur in his tail.

I stayed near him while the others moved on, but more walkers passed by, and also marveled at this little guy, posing so nicely and enjoying the companionship of his benefactor.  So, will this little guy be competition for Parker?  I finally left when he scurried off to bury some nuts – maybe he thought I wasn’t passing this way again?

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This morning I doubled up on my peanut offerings before leaving the house.  Parker never disappoints and was quick to come bounding over as soon as I walked into the parking lot, but Midnight, the moniker I gave to my newest little buddy, was a no show today.  There will be many more morning walks at the Park, and hopefully more photo ops of him.

Today I passed the 700-miles-walked goal I set for myself for August 31st.  It was touch and go for a while with all this rain, but I still have another 350 miles to go for my year-end goal.  I will have to really push myself in September and early October … sun up is noticeably later every day and after mid-October there is the threat of black ice on those frosty mornings.  It really slickens up on the asphalt path, so sometimes I just stay in the neighborhood to maximize my miles as the sidewalk is more porous and not slick.

Tomorrow, as I push toward this goal, I’ll christen my new walking shoes …

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… since my current ones were starting to crack just a little.  I’m sure they have at least 1,000 miles or more on them and I’ll keep them for a spare pair.

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I took the new shoes out of the box this morning to take the picture.  They sure looked heavy and clunky looking, and seeing them made me recall getting new back-to-school shoes every year.  After a Summer of running around in flip flops or sneakers, my mom would say “you’d better wear your new school shoes around the house and get used to them, or you’ll get blisters when you walk to school!”  So, I’d tromp around the house in my Mary Janes, and, when I got older, my penny loafers.  It didn’t seem to help – I’d always get blisters on my heels anyway.

I’ll venture out tomorrow in these new shoes, onward and upward … no barefoot in the Park for this gal.

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Tuesday Musings.

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It’s a “pools and Popsicles” kind of day with sultry temps that soared to a “real feel” in the mid-90s.  I keep reminding myself that back in the Wintertime I promised I would not whine about the weather once those Dog Days of August arrived.   Well, those Dog Days have done passed us by; we enjoyed a three-day coolish respite, followed by a return of this oppressive weather.

When I left for my walk this morning, I stepped outside to 77 degrees, a dew point of 70 and humidity of 75%.  I thought I might melt into a puddle on the ground.  I wore my lightest clothing and felt that lightweight shirt clinging to my body before the screen door shut.  I decided rather than sizzle like a slice of bacon, I’d just hop in the car and go to the grocery store and walk there.  I’m trying so hard to make my year-end goal, but also fulfill a mini goal of 700 miles by month end, so I know I have to hustle to do so.  Walking laps at Meijer seemed like a logical choice, as long as I didn’t stop to chitchat with too many of the friendly clerks that work there.

I didn’t do a single blog post last weekend to refrain from whining about the weather.  I had pre-registered for a 5K slated for Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.  I didn’t have to drive far, so only  needed to pick up my T-shirt and number.  All the weather folks had promised foul weather for Saturday, but since they are sometimes/often wrong,  I decided to take a chance and go anyway.  However, I opened the screen door to hear a long rumble of thunder.  “Hmmm – not good” I thought.  The sky was dark and ugly looking.  I decided to at least run my car in the garage while I was outside … in less than five minutes, big splats of rain had me scurrying into the house.  I barely shut the door when a torrential downpour and heavy storm erupted.  Whew!  Good thing I didn’t leave earlier.  It was the third 5K I registered for and did not walk in this year and Saturday’s ugly weather kept me hunkered indoors the rest of the day.

Sunday, I awoke to fog.  I planned to attend an afternoon butterfly garden walk in a nearby city.  The homeowner’s backyard is filled with perennials and is a monarch waystation, so it is a haven for butterflies.  To attend the butterfly garden event, you simply donate a few items for dogs and cats which are given to a local animal shelter.  Not wanting to lose valuable walking steps, I went to Council Point Park where I eked out four miles.  I left the camera at home since the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  I was pretty “done in” at the end of my walk, and since it was so overcast, it meant less butterflies, so I decided to pass on the butterfly event.

I’ve walked at Meijer on hot Summer days in the past.  It is a large grocery store, so there’s plenty of room to walk and without driving too far out of my way (just three miles round trip).  Laps around the air-conditioned grocery store sure beat a steamy trudge on the perimeter path at Council Point Park, at least until this heat wave abates.  They say storms tomorrow will bring in cooler weather – aah.

After trekking through the store parking lot, I  decided to hang out at the frozen section until I cooled off and then begin walking laps around the store.  There were at least a half-dozen people checking out the variety of cold confections, their faces pressed up against the glass doors, so to be sociable, I peered inside too.  My eyes honed right in on the Popsicle section because it was deserted – everyone was checking out the array of ice-cream treats and novelties.  Long gone are the twin Popsicles I remember from my youth – in fact the Popsicles I perused today are either the sensible, sugar-free or juice variety, or fancy Popsicles with a lot of razzmatazz.  Those many newfangled Popsicle treat names that I saw escape my heat-riddled brain right now, but Fruit Pops and Firecracker Pops stick in my mind for some reason.

One thing I know is these skinny, single-serving Popsicles are nothing like the side-by-side Twin Pops with two wooden sticks I remember from my youth.

Perhaps you remember them too?

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As people grabbed their frozen treats and scurried off to transport them before they melted in a pool in their car, I checked out the never-ending shelves of scrumptious icy delights.  I couldn’t find the orange Creamsicle Push-Ups I remember from my youth, but I saw some perpetual favorites of days long gone, like Klondike bars, Fudgesicles and Drumsticks (a trio of my personal  favorites).  Then I saw the ice-cream sandwiches, in a 2018 version that was kicked up a notch or two from the $0.10 variety I remember eating as an occasional treat at Huff Junior High.  Today’s deluxe-looking ice-cream sandwiches sure aren’t the soggy brown chocolate wafers with a thin layer of vanilla ice-cream where you’d peel off the wrapper and half the chocolate came off with it.   The modern version are chocolate-chip cookies, stuffed with a generous wedge of ice-cream then dotted with chocolate chips.  I’d think I died and went to Heaven if I tried those.

When we moved to the States in 1966, I can remember racing out to the Good Humor Ice Cream truck after hearing his endless song cycling for what seemed like hours, before he even reached our neighborhood.   Along with the other kids on the block, we’d check out his wares.  He probably was a mite impatient with us as we clutched our loose change in our sweaty little hands while we pondered what ice-cream delight to buy.  No matter what treat we ended up with, nothing beat sharing a double-stick Popsicle with your best friend when you were a kid.

After I cooled off in the frozen section at Meijer, I set off on my trek around the store.  In some places, the air conditioning was not cranked as high, and I found myself tromping back time and time again to the frozen and refrigerated sections of the store … not to buy anything today, but just to cool off.

Along the way, I reflected on pools and popsicles and my long-lost pal Linda Crosby.

Most people who love the extreme heat either own a cottage by a lake, or they have a pool.  I had a pool once too.  If you were a little kid in the late 50s/early 60s, you probably also had one of those inflatable, yellow, two-ring, vinyl swimming pools with an orange-colored liner bottom.  I don’t recall my parents using a bicycle pump to inflate that pool, but instead taking turns, while getting quite red in the face, trying to blow that pool up at the beginning of the Summer.  They would be sticking their finger over the valve plug in between trying to catch their breath, while two little girls danced around, eager to hop in.  We’d have to wait a little longer until the sun warmed the water a bit since it was ice-cold coming from the hose.  That little pool would get emptied and rinsed out every night and hung on the clothesline until our next “pool party” and sometimes it sprung a leak which was not patchable, so a new pool had to be bought and blown up again.

I shared my swimming pool with my best friend in the world, Linda Crosby.  In that pool, we also shared secrets and grape popsicles.  We were inseparable in those days, not just because we had the same first name, but we also lived next door to one another.

LINDA AND LINDA

My mother would be checking on us from the window to ensure we did not “cook” out there and she’d come out periodically with cups of juice or icy treats, usually Twin Pops.  Mom would call us to the door, having broken the twin Popsicle in the kitchen.  That was quite an art to separate a double Popsicle without it breaking apart, and it was a task not to be undertaken in the heat of the day outdoors, as it would likely land right onto your toes, and what parts of the Popsicle you DID salvage, usually ended up running down your chin.  Mom would hand each of us our half then say “now eat it over the grass because you know your father will be mad if there are purple stains on the cement.”

So, there we were, six decades ago, circa 1958, lovin’ Summer in our sunbonnets, suckin’ on a grape Popsicle and chillin’ in the wading pool.  It didn’t get any better than that back in the day.

In looking at this picture, I guess it was better to have a grape, Popsicle-stained chest than purple drip marks on your sun suit or bathing suit?  I wish Mom was sitting here right now so I could ask why she chose to make me a topless bathing beauty?  🙂

linda only.JPG

P.S. – I have another picture to share, also of the two Lindas on a Summer day, but the following Summer.  At least we both had our clothes on, sluggin’ down some juice after playing with our beach balls – I guess we must have outgrown that little pool.

LINDA AND LINDA OUTSIDE OF POOL

[Images of Popsicles from Pinterest]

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With some pep in my step, I explored the “naturehood”

TREE

It was Day #2 of beautiful Fall-like weather.  I know I embarked on my walk with some added pep in my step once I encountered that refreshing air.  And today, for the first time in ages, the sun was shining brightly and I saw my shadow.  I aim to make the most of this brief respite from the heat and humidity.

I may have ended up at Council Point Park, my all-time favorite nature nook, but the neighborhood was also infused with nature, so I decided those winged, feathered or furry critters deserved a post all their own.

Here is what I discovered in the “naturehood” …

Before I even left the house, through the screen door I watched a huge bunny nibbling on the grass.  He didn’t hear the inside door open, so I was free to gaze at him.  There I was, just like a gunfighter reaching for his gun in the holster, as my left hand found the camera case and was unzipping it, ready to grab the camera to take its picture, but I decided I shouldn’t share with you how dirty the screen door was.  Suffice it to say, he was large and furry and nibbling on grass and, of course, right after I opened that screen door, he bolted, just a white flash of powder puff tail as he went to seek refuge somewhere else.

Even though it was a workday, school doesn’t start back up for another couple of weeks, so the neighborhoods were relatively quiet.  The A/C units weren’t humming for a change, as people had opened their windows and many screen doors were ushering in all the cool morning air.  Due to the still morn, I could hear the cicadas buzzing.  I’ve meant to remark on them for a couple of weeks now, but this morning, since it was extra quiet, their buzzing noises were especially loud.  I found one clinging to the door the other day and got its picture.  It’s hard to believe this bug will generate all that buzzing, but it does.  Summer is not just all about the heat and humidity – to me, nothing says Summer like the sound of cicadas.

CICADA

As I turned the corner, I heard the unmistakable tweets of a cardinal.  As I whistled back, note for note, I searched for that beautiful red bird.  I finally found it, way high up on a telephone wire.

CARDINAL UP HIGH

An airplane went overhead and the cardinal did a head tilt and looked up – yup, a bigger bird than you was flying the friendly skies.

CARDINAL SMALL HEAD TILT.jpg

I zoomed in on him while he was singing.

CARDINAL SMALL

I heard that birdsong and kept whistling back all the way to the next cross street.

In the next block was a black squirrel chattering away from his perch on a low branch.  Usually black squirrels are more skittish than the fox squirrels.  I often try to entice them down from a tree branch by scattering a few peanuts, but they generally run the other way.  I couldn’t coax this one down to ground level either.

First, I took a photo of this squirrel fairly close up.

BLACK SQUIRREL UP CLOSE

But then he gave me the side eye, and next raced up higher where I couldn’t reach him.

BLACK SQUIRREL CLIMBING HALF WAY

I thought this tall, bumpy and lumpy-looking tree was interesting.

BLACK SQUIRREL IN LUMPY LOOKING TREE

I tossed a few peanuts out onto the sidewalk, but no dice – he was up there to stay.

And speaking of trees, as I meandered along, I saw this tree that I used for today’s picture.  I know you were wondering why a tree merited being the featured photo, but I wondered what type of tree it was.  I did a reverse Google image search but found nothing.  The homeowner is never there when I pass and I am curious what tree bears this fruit?  [Note:  Fellow blogger Anne Mehrling has identified this as a horse chestnut tree.  How many years has it been since botany class???]

As I near Council Point Park, Pagel Avenue becomes a series of twists and turns.  A pair of bunnies was sitting on a homeowner’s lawn.  They looked like a couple of statues, not moving a muscle.  I think they had a spat since they were looking the opposite way.  They remained motionless as I took their picture, then one bolted, quickly followed by the other one.

BUNNIES TWO

A squirrel popped out of nowhere with a walnut in its mouth.

SQUIRREL SITTING WITH WALNUT.jpg

I wiggled my Ziploc bag filled with peanuts, but he had no interest, instead keeping his mouth wrapped around a huge muddy walnut.  To each his own I guess.

SQUIRREL STANDING WITH WALNUT.jpg

At Council Point Park, my furry pals were quick to show up for peanuts, and just as quick to scurry away and bury them, their front paws digging furiously into the grass.  Could it be the cooler weather has prompted them to step up their gathering and burying efforts?  Perhaps I should have let them in on a little secret … the heat and humidity will return on Saturday and should be here for a few more weeks, so there is plenty of time to squirrel away those peanuts.  Ugh to those muggies!

Nothing beats a nature jaunt in a real Park, but the urban forest was a treat today as well!

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Tuesday Musings

close up planner page

I thought I’d dust off “Tuesday Musings” as it’s been about a month since I last mused, though I think, with all the rain we’ve had so far today, “mud” and not “dust” would more likely be the key word here.  It was a treat to sleep in this morning, but my walking took a hit again, and no steps were added to my yearly tally, unless you want to count a few trips from the back of the house to the kitchen.

One of the stories on the news this morning was about animal crackers and how the PETA people succeeded in persuading Nabisco to change the design on the box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.  Now, the animals are displayed as freed, and thus cage-free, rather than traveling in caged boxcars enroute to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, which, as you probably know, closed down a few years ago.  Here’s the story:  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nabisco-barnums-animals-animal-crackers-animals-freed-mondelez-international-boxes-get-new-look/

I pity the kids who will never enjoy the circus as I remember it from my youth, and, I loved those cute little animal crackers as well, in fact, so much that I wrote a post about them a few years ago.  I’ll skip sending the link to the post because I rambled on about the ugly and sleety weather we were having in late April.  On that morning, I had heard the song “Animal Crackers in my Soup” by the late Shirley Temple.  Not only did that song evoke a few memories, but it was an earworm for me all day.

So, if you remember these …

animal crackers.jpg

… and, if you’ve ever seen a Shirley Temple movie, you’ll probably enjoy this little song which will give you a smile:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cntYIkuthYg

That song took me back to a time of those sweet cookies and a few sweet memories as well.

When I was a toddler, whenever we went grocery shopping, Mom always bought me a box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.  In the store, I’d be holding onto the pale pink string handle that was attached to the oblong red and yellow box that featured circus animals.  When we got home and unpacked, and put away the groceries, we’d open the box and pour them out onto a plate, then name all the animal types.  Then we’d divide them up and eat them, washed down with a glass of chocolate milk.

Many decades later, one day while grocery shopping, on a lark I bought a box of those same animal crackers, and a carton of chocolate milk.  Mom and I did the same thing just like when I was a child, but yes, we skipped the naming of the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!)

It’s good to act like a kid every so often – don’t you think?

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