Meanwhile at the ol’ swimming hole …

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All Winter, as we endured that 61-inch snowfall here in Southeast Michigan, I moaned and groaned about the endless shoveling that I did because of my “deal” with my next-door neighbor –  I shovel both properties all Winter, then he mows both properties during the growing season.  Unfortunately for me, his property is twice as big as mine, with more driveway, deck and pathways to shovel.  I sure am grateful that my turn is over and now he taking care of the lawns until October or November, especially in lieu of all this rain.  Jeff just mowed the day before the incessant rain, and today the grass blades are way past my ankles, and halfway to my knees.  The lawn is looking thick and lush … those weeds are looking pretty healthy too.  The grass is starting to go to seed, as are the dandelions, with their wispy puffs adrift when I walked along on this still morn.

I was happy to step outside where it was sunny and surprisingly warm, since it was chilly in the house and I had put the heat back on.  I headed down to the Park, and along the way the neighborhood was filled with a cacophony of loud noises … lawn mowers groaned mightily as they munched up grass, weed whippers whirred and blowers blasted as lawn services hustled to attend to their customers’ properties, after the overlong spate of rainy weather.  In record time, their powerful yard equipment had already begun to neaten up those homes.  There must’ve been at least five of those lawn services enroute to the Park, and the noise was deafening.

But, once at the Park, the familiar feeling of peace and quiet was evident.  I heard the woodpecker drumming a near-hollow tree and the red-winged blackbirds calling to one another from their respective trees.  I think it was quiet enough to hear the tap, tap, tap of squirrel toenails scrambling down bark, or racing across the asphalt path for peanuts.  I was willing to accommodate those furry friends, and had tucked an extra bag in my coat pocket, figuring that no other walkers had frequented the pathway since last week due to the rain, and the squirrels were probably starving.  The bushes that bear black raspberries, and the apple trees in the Park are a long way from producing any fruit goodies for our pals and it was a pitiful sight to see a squirrel holding a dirty walnut in his mouth and another one chomping on a pinecone.  “Poor babies” I called out … “come and see Linda.”

While we humans were weary of all the wet weather, this is why ducks and geese are called waterfowl.  All the rain and wet weather did not deter them from sliding into the local swimming hole.  While it wasn’t warm or sunny enough for people to apply sunscreen before heading out and jumping into a pool, the geese and ducklings seemed content to plop into the Ecorse Creek for a quick dip.

DO I TAKE THE PLUNGE

Hmmm – do I take the plunge?

GOIN FOR IT

I’m going for it!

DUCKLING SWIMMING LESSONS

Duckling swimming lessons.

I decided not to overdo the walking since I’d not been on the trail in days, so I just walked one loop, plus my round trip to the Park, so a little over three miles.  I’ll do more steps tomorrow – it’s supposed to be another beautiful day.

It was a blissful morning and over way too soon.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

For happiness, how little suffices for happiness! … the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisper, an eye glance — little maketh up the best happiness. Be still. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Yes, I am a bleeding heart.

CoCo story

For as long as I can remember, I have had a soft spot in my heart for animals.  It was more than just a childish love of the family pets who came in and out of my life.  When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the response was always “ a veterinarian” having enjoyed the novel and movie versions of “The Red Pony”, “Old Yeller”, “Rascal” and “The Incredible Journey”.  As I got older, I enjoyed the collection of animal tales by British country vet James Herriot, and I figure his adventures are really what clinched the idea of that vocation.

My parents said they’d fund college for me to be a veterinarian and I was ecstatic; too bad my grades in math and science were not stellar and I had to abandon that dream.  My mom would later tell me they never believed I would have the heart to attend to animals that were sick, or in pain, as I was too much of a “softie” or a “bleeding heart”.

Since I had no siblings, and, because my parents believed that every child should have a dog, when I was three years old, Fritzy, a beautiful German Shepherd, came to live at 497 Sandmere Place.  My father’s co-worker raised German Shepherds, and one day my dad came home from work with a new puppy.   He became my oversized playmate.

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As the months passed, this little girl and her big dog romped around the yard with endless energy.

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But Fritzy started having difficulty getting up and down the stairs, and a trip to the vet verified that he had developed hip dysplasia, a common malady for large dogs.  The diagnosis was dire because it would worsen with age, so my parents had Fritzy euthanized.  That was my first experience coping with loss and I was devastated.

My parents promised we would wait awhile then get another dog next year for my birthday, so as that day neared, off we went to the breeder at Wag-a-Way Kennels, where we got a beautiful blonde Cocker Spaniel, that we named Co-Co, and, who is the subject of my first grade drawing you see above.

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Co-Co did not last long in the Schaub household, because, even after obedience training, he would not ask for the door to go out, resulting in piddle puddles all through the house, especially on the carpeting.  My mom, who was already frustrated with the fact that Co-Co’s long, silky ears dragged into his water and dog food bowls, (so the contents were tracked everywhere), was not too pleased with Co-Co and he spent many hours clipped to the clothesline on a long lead in the backyard while she cleaned his ever-present messes.  Mom finally put her foot down and Co-Co was given away.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Thinking the third time may be the charm when it came to pets, our next dog was a black poodle named Peppy.

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He was not like most poodles, because he was wiry and wild-acting, and liked to dig holes in the backyard.  One day he dug a hole under the fence and escaped.  Our subdivision was plagued by a pack of wild dogs that ran together and someone put out raw meat spiked with rat poison to kill them, and Peppy got hold of some.  While I was at school, he came home foaming at the mouth.  My mom rarely, if ever, called my dad at work, but she called and said he had to come home and take Peppy to the vet to be put down before I got home from school.

That was 1965, and I was nine years old.  That evening, my parents sat me down, explained about Peppy’s fate, and I was told there would be no more dogs at our house, and, after I moved out on my own, my parents would buy me a dog as a housewarming present.

Alas, we were a “petless” family once again.  To fill the void, we got a parakeet.  Skippy was full of personality, and the first of many pet birds which would fill our house with joy, whether it was their playful antics, talking a blue streak, or, in the case of our canaries, beautiful singing.

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After Skippy’s arrival, I developed a lifelong affinity for birds.

I catered to the birds in the backyard for years.  There were multiple feeders, plus treats, and in the warm months I put out four birdbaths, to accommodate every size bird that visited.  They’d wait for me every morning, all year long, as I loaded up the feeders, or put out seed blocks.

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In the Summer months, with the backyard garden, it was like a paradise.

And then came the rats … and it was paradise lost.

A new neighbor moved in behind us in the Fall of 2007.  He bought a pit bull and left it outside 24/7, even in Winter.  He fed it table scraps and by the Summer of 2008, there were rats in our backyard.  We had to call in an exterminator to bait traps, so feeding the birds was discouraged.  Likewise, no more setting out birdbaths because the rats eat the poison and it dries their insides, so they seek a water source, and a birdbath would be ideal for them.  I watched every morning as my feathered friends lined up along the chain link fence, wondering why I no longer catered to them.  Where were their treats, their water?  It made me sad and I could not bear to look at them.

My neighbor Marge, also afflicted with rats, discontinued her feeding and birdbaths as well, but finally resumed only a few years ago, as she felt badly for the birds and missed their activity as she sat out on her backyard deck all Summer.  But I never returned to my ritual, having seen a few too many bloated rat bodies in the backyard.  I felt ill by their presence, knowing how they destroyed my paradise – I did not wish to go through that horror again.  Instead, I got my “bird fix” by watching Marge’s deck activity, or during my walks in the Park.

Since I appreciate my feathered friends, just like many of you, I’ve enjoyed the daily reports my friend Evelyn sent me about the robins.  I felt like “Aunt Linda” watching Evelyn’s little family from afar, and, I was thoroughly intrigued by the whole process, watching those baby robins growing from naked, scrawny hatchlings into cute chicks.

But sadly, now the nest is empty.

I wish I could say that on their 10th day after hatching, they fledged and went off to explore the world.  But, instead it is with sadness that I tell you that a predator got to the robin chicks yesterday.

Shortly after Evelyn sent me my daily photo of the trio, (pictured below), she noticed a 4-5 foot black snake lurking around her porch and took a photo to send to me.

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She has sent me photos of black snakes in the past when she found them sunning themselves, stretched out along the porch railing.  She has been fearless about those snakes and simply moved them to another location.  I, however, shuddered at those photos, having never encountered a snake in my life.

Evelyn reached down and grabbed that black snake and threw it over the back fence and went inside the house.

A short time later, she heard a commotion – a lot of squawking, so she rushed outside.  She saw the snake and it had a chick in its mouth.  The male and female robins were swooping and diving, in an effort to drive the snake away from the nest, but the snake was not fazed at all.  So Evelyn grabbed that snake and it dropped the chick, which was already dead.  There was only one chick remaining in the nest at that time.

Adrenalin set in and Evelyn had the presence of mind to grab a garden rake and she wrangled the snake away from the nest.  She wasted no time in snagging that snake and then dropped it into a large nearby empty flower pot and covered the pot with a piece of glass.  She marched to the end of the street to deposit the snake into a wooded area, then returned home and called the Wildlife Center to see if 100 yards was far enough away for the snake to lose scent of the babies.  She left a voicemail to that effect, then went back outside the house only to find the remaining chick gone from the nest.

Evelyn sent an e-mail to tell me what happened, then agonized over the death of the three chicks throughout the afternoon.  The woman at the Wildlife Center finally called back.  She was amazed Evelyn had dealt with the snake in a humane manner, and, suggested that even though the chicks could not fly, that perhaps the parents encouraged both chicks to jump into a nearby bush for shelter.  Buoyed by that more-pleasant scenario on the chicks’ fate, Evelyn hasn’t yet peered into the bush, but we hope that our family of feathered friends has sought refuge there.

In their last photos, they really were starting to look more like robins, and, if you remember, they would have been ready to leave the nest at only 13 days old, or by week’s end.

13TH

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14TH

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Evelyn tells me she’ll likely take down the nest to thwart any robins from future nest-building activities and to not invite another predator gaining access to any baby robins.

Meanwhile, we delighted in the experience.  Sometimes it is the little things in life that make us smile and not frown.  With daily horrible headlines screaming out at us on social media and the news, sometimes we need a glimpse of nature to balance out the bad stuff.  Nature is wonderful most of the time; sometimes not so much, as evidenced  as this tale unfolded.

Tomorrow I hope to venture out on a walk to my favorite nature nook.  The weatherman reports that we’ve had over 5 inches of rain since last Friday.  It has rained every day for the past 7 days, and 11 of the first 15 days this month.  We sure are overdue for some sun and a little warmer temps.

 

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Dust bunnies and dandelions.

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There is a young man, maybe in his 20s, who has been frequenting Council Point Park lately.  Nate is a kindred spirit, who similarly enjoys the Park’s ambiance and is particularly infatuated with the squirrels and birds.   One day last week he paused at the spot where I was feeding the squirrels.

Nate quickly became intrigued by a cardinal, who interjected himself into the feeding frenzy.  His face lit up as he turned to me and said “hey, this is so cool!” and he was genuinely enjoying the experience, so I poured out some peanuts from my bag into his hands to share with him.  He quickly tossed a few out and a couple of squirrels raced over to where they landed, followed by one red cardinal which alighted on the asphalt path soon thereafter.

Nate took out his phone and started taking a video of the whole scene, then showed me that video, along with some others of eagles and swans that he had recently seen.

We chatted a little while our furry and feathered friends enjoyed their treats.  Then we both looked up in the tree and noticed the male cardinal looking down at us expectantly, probably awaiting more peanuts to be doled out to the squirrels, so he could nab one.  “Your turn” I told Nate, and, once again, he tossed several peanuts onto the asphalt path.

Then he asked me if I had heard of the legend of the cardinal and what their presence signified.  I responded that yes, I had heard that theory.  Next, Nate asked me if I believed that these cardinals in the Park were angels of loved ones lost who were reaching out to those they left behind.  I told Nate that would be a pleasant thought, and I’d like to believe that this scarlet beauty was my mom, who dearly loved cardinals, collected figurines of them, and that Mom was looking over my shoulder as I strolled around my favorite nature nook.

I also conceded it is likely that the cardinal’s motives are not 100% pure and our daily meet-and-greet at the same tree is likely to swipe peanuts when the squirrels are not looking.  He smiled at my reasoning.

But, after I said goodbye to Nate and headed home, I replayed our conversation in my mind.  I decided that sometimes it is not always so great to be a realist, and occasionally one should indulge in a little fiction or fantasy.

If you’ve never heard the legend about the cardinals, I found it on Pinterest.

Legend of the Cardinal

I don’t have a tree filled with cardinals looking down at me.

Just one.

And, he is always in the same tree.

This is the picture I took that morning in the Park when I met Nate.

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And here’s another photo of the cardinal, a bright spot in a bare tree, in the tail end of Winter.

Cardinal in Winter time

I lost my mom on January 31, 2010 and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.  If she is indeed looking down on me, she would be clucking her tongue, because she was a fastidious housekeeper, and she liked the house, both inside and outside, to look immaculate at all times.  She likely would chastise me for being out walking, or writing this blog post, when there are other items that need my attention.

We clearly skipped a generation, for I don’t have those same genes as Mom.  These days I try not to sweat the small stuff, but put blinders on instead.

Note to Mom – I love you, but if you’re looking down on me, please ignore those dust bunnies and dandelions, okay?

[Image of The Legend of the Cardinals from Pinterest.]

 

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A soggy Saturday, glimpses of goslings, and the robins are growing up fast.

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Spring here in Southeast Michigan has really been nothing special.  May’s incessant rain has made our days dreary and dismal, with sunny days few and far between.  It has been raining since noon on Friday, sometimes torrential downpours, and off-and-on thunderstorms.  So, I slept in late on this soggy Saturday, since I knew it would be a stay-at-home day, and likely Sunday too, unless the rain finally ends.  Sigh.

But, I have been busy gathering my photos for Mother’s Day weekend blog posts, which I will use rain or shine.

The first part of this post involves the second sighting of goslings at Council Point Park last Wednesday.

As I rounded the perimeter path at the old twisted tree, there they were, the goslings and their parents, grazing by the blue metal park bench.  I’d have liked it better if they weren’t so close to the bench and I had a clearer view of the entire family, but I wasn’t about to shout “hey you guys – move over to the left a little would you?”  The family was fairly close to the walking path, so I left the path and stood on the nearby grass to get a better look at them, and thus avoid getting the gander riled up.

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It was then I noticed a second family of geese near the dense, still-dead swamp grass.  They were headed to the water for swimming lessons.  I figured it was my lucky day, though I’d have been a tad luckier had I arrived a few minutes earlier, as I might have had two gaggles of geese and a double dose of cute goslings for my post.

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I took a few more pictures, stepped back onto the perimeter path and fed some of my furry pals, then heard some commotion.  I turned around and a crowd was gathering by the goose family.

THE CROWD LINDA

I watched some of these folks from afar as they stepped off the path and onto the grass toward the family.  The gander hissed, but there was no wing flapping.  Someone had brought food for the geese – bread perhaps – something in tidbits which could be thrown out.  By then, both the male and female were hissing, and the babies – what do you think they were doing?

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Well, if your kid is eating his veggies and someone offers up a chocolate chip cookie, those veggies are going to be abandoned in favor of a cookie in a heartbeat.  Those goslings took off running, er … waddling, toward the bread, eager to abandon the grass they had just been grazing on.

GOSLINGS ONLY GOOD FINAL LINDA

When I uploaded the photos later and realized I cut the top of the gosling’s head off, I was disappointed, but I’m using it anyway – it shows his (or her) exuberance at seeing the treats.

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The goslings’ parents had calmed down somewhat and did not take any of the tidbits for themselves, but had a watchful eye over their babies the entire time.  That sudden intrusion of humans on the little clan gave me an opportunity for more photos, though I still hung back, thinking that the parents will remember this interaction, and I don’t want them associating me with it a few weeks from now, and charging after me.  Now, you might scoff at that idea, but hear me out.  A few years ago I brought a couple of bags of bread for the geese, and, there I was amidst a gaggle of them, throwing out yeasty tidbits and feeling at peace with nature … that is, until I got to the bottom of the second bag.  The geese who were fed waddled off, but about a dozen newcomers who missed out on the treat, came after me.  Yikes!  Suddenly this girl was not giggling over the gaggle of geese, but sprinting for her life to merge into a group of walkers.  Yup – I learned my lesson that day and I’ve never brought treats for the Canada geese since.

Even after the crowd departed, Mom and Dad were still having a hissy fit.  I did take some additional photos, without the pesky park bench being in the way, and this was my favorite as they walked away, perhaps for a swim with their brethren.  Guess they don’t follow the wait-for-an-hour-after-you-eat-to-go-swimming rule.

Well goslings … goodbye for now.

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Now, it’s time to return to the robin family in Richmond, Virginia.  As you know from two prior posts, my friend Evelyn has faithfully documented the robin family since they built the nest, then laid the eggs, and the emergence of the hatchlings.

Maybe it was her newfound “grandmother instincts” settling in, but Evelyn fussed over the trio of chicks like a mother hen.  She called the vet to see if she could get something for the babies’ diet to supplement what the parents brought, but the vet said the chicks would be fine and not to worry.

The vet was right.  As you see below, Mama Robin arrived, as if on cue, beak open to drop some grub into one of those hungry mouths.

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Slowly but surely, those helpless and scrawny babies born last week are starting to look more like robins.  The size of their beaks just amazes me and I’ve remarked to Evelyn “when will they grow into their beaks?”  They remind me a little of Daffy Duck in these photos.  I love that they are already clamoring for food and today one chick had an eye open.  Evelyn says the parents are leaving the nest more to retrieve nourishment to feed their young.  The following photos are from each of the past four days:

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This last picture, I would like to caption: “Hi Mom, I’m awake and I see you, so I’m opening my mouth so you can just drop in a few grubs and meal worms, okay?”

Isn’t nature grand?

As I finish up this post, I am thinking about the episode this week where the red-winged blackbird, attacked the robin sitting on her nest.  That blackbird was way bigger, but the Mama Robin fought that red-winged blackbird, who likely wanted to steal the eggs or babies from the nest.  That mom was devoted to her young, hatched or still in the shell.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world.

It knows no law, no pity.

It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

~Agatha Christie

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Mother Nature is my nemesis sometimes …

trees in bloom

The rain, the Park and other things

The jury’s still out on whether Spring has arrived yet.  We’ve had a few more 70-degree days, as well as thunderstorms that typically whip up with all that heat and humidity, but tomorrow our high will be a mere 50 degrees.  The normal Spring weather,which we looked forward to for so long, keeps retreating into a corner.

I’m convinced we are still a month behind in that ditty we memorized way back when about “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers” … the showers in April were of the snow variety and it seems every other day in May it pours raining or storms.  During my trip to the backyard to check on the progress of the lilacs, they had leafed out, but there were no blossoms yet.  In the neighborhood, a magnolia bush that sported huge buds just a few days ago, now is full of large open blossoms.

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magnolias

I was happy to eke out a walk this morning because the forecast originally called for rain (what else) and my trek to the Park was still kind of puddly from all the rain yesterday and overnight.  On my way there I saw a few birds bathing in the street, splashing away in the many pools of water that formed near the curb.  The robins were pecking and slurping up some long worms which had wriggled free from the earth as a result of all that rain.  Those robins wore a defiant look as I neared them, as if to say “hey you, don’t step on my worm!”  I wanted to say “don’t worry, I’ve already had my breakfast, thank you.”

I’ve scouted out some new parks to try out, but the threat of rain last weekend and the promised rain, (two inches in total), for this weekend, will have me tabling those treks a little longer.

My trip to the Park yesterday was enjoyable.  On the heels of my statement that the geese and their offspring had been missing in action the past few days, I rounded the path by the old twisted tree and there were two families of geese, with all their goslings grazing companionably alongside their parents.  This scenario was just a tease for you, because I’ll save those warm-and-fuzzy photos and narrative for the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, plus an update on the baby robins as well.

I’ve been watching Council Point Park slowly come back to life.  Gone are those bare branches which have now totally leafed out, lending a cozier feel to the Park.  The bushes have likewise filled in, and only the reeds and swamp grass are still a dull and drab brown color.  Perhaps this onslaught of rain will green up the rest of the Park.

Angels and butterflies for a life cut short

There are many memorial trees planted around the Park.  They are all different varieties, each bearing a stone plaque of loved ones.  Some people take great care with their memorial trees, laying down fresh mulch, planting flowers, putting balloons for birthdays, or decorating for the various holidays throughout the year.

This one tree, in particular, stands out every Spring because its delicate white blossoms arrive the same time as the tulips that are planted around the memorial stone.

tree with blossoms

Butterflies with gossamer wings are fastened to the tree branches …

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… as well as an angel with the same delicate wings.

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I took a picture of the memorial stone as I wanted to know more about Erica Megan Sharick, who passed away at just 21 years old.

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I thought I’d include that info with this post, but a Google search of her name revealed nothing.  All year around, there are always angels of some kind adorning this tree, or reclining near the stone.  It always makes me feel a little sad when I pass by.

On Monday the mowers arrived and cut the grass, but the dandelions have already returned.  They are in abundance, and sometimes it appears my feathered and furry friends are lost among those familiar yellow weeds.

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A tough nut to crack

With the advent of a rainy weekend, I’ve decided that this year’s goal will be a tough nut to crack.  My fine-feathered friends know all about that expression.  Beaks are definitely not as sharp as a squirrel’s front teeth, and, when cardinals and red-winged blackbirds swoop down to snatch a peanut from under a squirrel’s nose, they often are perplexed how to eat it afterward.  The cardinal is fairly adept if it’s a small peanut, but the red-winged blackbird, having finagled that treat, has to twist and turn it around to enjoy it.

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rw blackbird

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Today’s  jaunt got me to 301 miles walked so far in 2018, leaving me 750 more miles to go to reach this year’s goal.  Gulp!  I hope to fulfill this goal, but this weather has to cooperate better.   Mother Nature, help me out please!

 

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Tuesday Musings.

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This morning it was just 47 degrees when I stepped out the door.  For at least an hour beforehand, I heard the foghorns making their low, long and mournful call down at the Detroit River, but I guess they were only practicing, since it was sunny and clear.

I hurried out, eager to get my five miles walked.  I’ve been averaging five miles per day and need to step up my game a little on the weekends and get those steps done, then meander here and there with the camera.  Sometimes that is better said, than done though.

After the delightful day at the Park on Sunday, yesterday and today have been a little blah.  Only a handful of squirrels were on the pathway, Mom and Pop Goose and their wee ones weren’t out and about, nor were they taking their offspring for swimming lessons.  Surely there must be more than one pair of geese with goslings?

What I did see, but didn’t much care for, was a red-winged blackbird that suddenly swooped down from a high tree and attempted to knock the robin off the nest she was plopped on.  After this attack, the mother robin fought back, the two tangled, and after some angry-sounding chatter, both birds flew off.   That red-winged blackbird was very aggressive, at least twice the size of the robin, and his unprovoked attack in her vulnerable state, i.e. protecting her brood (eggs or babies) made me feel a little sad.  Another walker and I witnessed that attack and she said it likely wanted to steal the eggs, or babies.  Even though the nest rests on a low branch,  I still can’t see inside it, so I’m guessing she is still incubating those pretty blue eggs.  I worried she might be hurt from the confrontation, but the next time around, she was back on the nest.

Sometimes nature is awesome … sometimes not so much.

I saw on Twitter that today is “World Walking Day and decided since I’ve taken a few walks in faraway countries, that today, and for each subsequent “World Walking Day”, I’ll create a post reflecting back on a different trip.

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So, to stray off the beaten path via the way-back machine, I’ll include some photos from a three-week Scandinavian and Russia trip taken in 1983.  It was a land tour of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark and included a daytime Norwegian fjord cruise, an overnight Baltic Sea cruise to cross from Sweden to Finland, and two plane trips, one from St. Petersburg to Moscow and the other from Moscow to Copenhagen.  The trip was taken June 4th to June 25th.

I’m going to choose a photo or two of me, representative of each country.

The first leg of our trip was Norway, and we landed in Bergen and went to Market Square to the Merchant’s Quay.

The Quay

We next traveled to the mountain railway station at Myrdal Valley which is 3,000 feet above sea level.

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After several days in Norway, our next country to visit was Sweden.   Most of my photos in this country were scenery or architecture only, but, we spent the day at Stockholm’s Open-Air Museum, then went to our hotel where we dined on reindeer patties and lingonberries over ice cream and enjoyed an evening of folk dancing at the Skansen Entertainment Center.  The woman in this picture was a fellow traveler  in our group.

Marybelle and I Skansen

We left Sweden via an overnight cruise ship to Finland.

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In this photo I am standing in front of the Sibelius Monument which is dedicated to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.  The Park is in Helsinki, Finland.

Sibelius Monument

From Helsinki we traveled via rail to Leningrad.  Our tour group stopped for lunch before our departure and one of the waiters tucked a red carnation from the vase on the table into my hair and wished me “safe travels” before we boarded the train.

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We spent a week in the U.S.S.R. altogether.

First we went to St. Petersburg for three days and I have many pictures of the architecture and landscape but no pictures of me there.  Later in the week we boarded an Aeroflot Airlines puddle jumper for a short flight to Moscow.

This is a photo of my tour guide, Don Gilliland and me at the Moskva River.  The Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Kremlin are in the background.

Don and Me

In this shot you see the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the ornate St. Basil’s Cathedral in the background.

Linda in front of cathedrals

Our last leg of the journey was in Denmark, and we flew from Moscow to Copenhagen and spent four days there.

While in Copenhagen, we took in the usual sights like the Little Mermaid statue and Langelinie Fountain and Pavilion.

Fountain.jpg

Rosenborg Castle was a big hit with tourists as well.

Rosenborg Castle

It was planned that our last night of the tour would coincide with Midsummer Eve, so we spent the evening at Tivoli Gardens where there was celebration and fireworks that extended to the wee hours of the morning.  Our hotel was across the street from Tivoli Gardens so I had many photos of the fireworks after we left.

Hope you enjoyed these photos on this “World Walking Day” … next year it will be one country only.  Up next will be more signs of Spring from my favorite, go-to local venue, a/k/a Council Point Park, as I continue to walk my socks off!

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Spring Offspring!

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If I had written a post yesterday, it would have extolled the virtues of a warm and sunny Sunday, a day that was just picture perfect.  The Park was busy with most of the regular walkers, all there to enjoy the beautiful Spring day.

I took a slew of photos and was anxious to see and share them with you, but we had a horrific storm pop up in the two o’clock hour.  That storm raged for several hours, running the gamut of thunder and lightning, hail up to an inch in diameter and torrential downpours.  The house was pelted with hail from every angle, and rain came with such force, the water was level with the top of the curb.  I watched from the front door, as one brave neighbor donned his poncho and took a rake in the teeming rain to clear out the sewer grate, which was causing our street and the cross-street to flood.  All the tree buds and bits that had been flitting around and landed in the street had whooshed down to the drain and clogged it.

After the storm subsided, the afternoon was suddenly over, and I never recouped that lost “online time” so I deferred the post to today.

As I walked around Council Point Park yesterday, it seemed that Mother Nature was at her finest.  I saw lush grass, a flawless blue sky, and the leaves had finally unfurled, providing a canopy of green as I traveled along the perimeter path.  Songbirds trilled and thrilled me with their song, and Parker was dancing over my shoe tops, pleading for peanuts with pensive eyes and other whimsical antics.

It is appropriate in this week leading up to Mother’s Day, that I should spotlight Spring’s offspring, and I hope you enjoy them.

My first find was getting a glimpse at the goslings.  My friend Ann Marie reported seeing some goslings and their parents at the man-made pond at her apartment building on Saturday.  She texted me pictures of those cute and fuzzy chicks, so I was hopeful to see some of my own.

As I rounded the bend of the first walking loop, there they were, nestled together by the old twisted tree, sweet golden fuzz balls, with their proud parents nearby.

geese on ground.jpg

I admired the first “batch” of the 2018 goslings, and was careful to stay far from them, while clicking away at these chicks.  The goslings barely stirred the entire time I was there, including the parents who guarded their babies like sentries, not even moving a muscle.

geese on ground with parents

Reluctantly I moved along, fed a few more squirrels, a pair of cardinals and the red-winged blackbird.  I stopped every walker I saw to tell them the first goslings had arrived at the Park.

I walked the entire perimeter path, which is two miles, and found myself back where I saw Mom and Pop Goose and their young ‘uns the first go-around.  Only this time, they had moved out of their cozy alcove and were grazing.  I was surprised to find the goslings were not as small as I originally thought – hmm, so where have they been hiding?

Of course, more warm-and-fuzzy photos had to be taken to share here.

geese standing

 

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Begrudgingly, I tore myself away from the goose family to tackle another entire loop around Council Point Park.

I heard the steady drumming of a woodpecker very high up in a dead tree.  While shielding my eyes from the sun, I scoured the weathered branches to find him.  It was a large woodpecker, but it seems I startled him, as I saw a blur of wings and poof – he was gone.

But, glancing toward the sky for the elusive woodpecker had yielded another find … a robin’s nest on a low branch.  I know I’d have seen it before, so it was obviously a new addition along my regular route.  The mother robin was sitting on top of the rather messy-looking nest, with only her head and tail visible from my vantage point.

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Mama Robin’s eyes followed me as I took a few pictures, and she never moved a muscle.  She guarded that cache of eggs with her life.

nest robin

I sure didn’t want to scare her, so I left quietly and returned to the primary purpose of my excursion … oh yeah, walking, with some bliss thrown in to set the Spring mood.

I mused that once the baby robins hatch, even more newborns will be roaming around Council Point Park in a few short weeks.

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Meanwhile, to update you on an earlier post,  in Richmond, Virginia the new robins have arrived.  You’ll recall I wrote about the robin’s nest my friend Evelyn discovered on her back porch a few weeks ago.  I showed you some pictures of three eggs, then four eggs, plus a photo of Mama Robin keeping those eggs warm and toasty.  https://lindaschaubblog.net/2018/04/27/spring-blessings/

Mama Robin rarely moved off the nest.

Mama on nest.jpg

When Evelyn put her dogs out each morning, she had her phone handy to monitor the “goin’s on” at the nest since Mama Robin usually flew off the nest once they walked out the back door.

Because the eggs were different sizes, on May 2nd  Evelyn noticed Mama Robin had been rotating the eggs, likely moving them around to give them equal warmth from her body.  This reconfiguration of eggs happened just prior to “hatch day” as you’ll see below.

05-02 eggs rotated.jpg

The next day, May 3rd,  one of the eggs had a small crack in its beautiful blue shell – the hatching had begun!

05-03 first egg cracking.jpg

On May 4th, Evelyn discovered three naked newborn robins, each with a tiny tuft of feathers, had made their entrance into the world.  What a miracle!  You’ll recall one egg was laid a day or two after the others, so it had some catching up to do.  As you see in the next photo, that fourth and final egg remained in the nest, snugged up near the hatchlings.  Evelyn assumed the remaining egg would hatch a day or so later.

05-04 three babies 1 egg

But, the very next day, Saturday the 5th, sadly, there was no sign of the fourth egg in the nest.  It was as if Mama Robin determined that hatchling was not going to make it and discarded the egg.  So, it was just a trio of hatchlings remaining in the nest.

05-05 three babies

The hatchings have grown in leaps and bounds – here is how they looked this morning.  At least they resemble a bird.  They are “all beak” and isn’t it amazing to see the blue veins in their tiny bodies?

05-07 three babies

I researched to find more info on robin hatchlings and learned they will open their eyes at 5 days old.  They will be ready to leave the nest when they are 13 days old when they will be almost the size of their parents.  Amazing, when you look at those scrawny little bodies now.  Once fledged from the nest, they will be capable fliers in just 10-15 days.

Look out world (and worms)!!

 

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