The COVID-19 road has been rocky. #Wordless Wednesday. #Local kids are sharin’ the love!

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

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It’s lovely weather for …

… Ducks!

The past week’s weather here in Southeast Michigan has been anything but ducky … it’s been wacky and wet.

The weather is akin to Baskin Robbins’ ice cream flavor of the month, as lately it seems like Mother Nature is trying out a new weather scheme every weekend. Two weekends ago it was a sudden heat wave with temps hovering at 80F (26C), then last weekend the high temp was half of that, 40F (4C), with snowflakes and a hard freeze that followed a few days later.

Then we had two days of torrential rain, one nice day (thankfully Saturday) and now we are immersed in three more days of rain and thunderstorms.

The grass is lush, the robins are happily gorging themselves on juicy worms, but the steady rains are wreaking havoc with our shorelines and parks, some which I frequent on the weekends.

I enjoy going to scenic Elizabeth Park as you know from prior posts. At this venue, while I am walking, the camera gets a workout as there are geese and ducks galore, even the occasional heron, egret or cormorant if you are lucky. Elizabeth Park is an island which is separated from the mainland (Trenton, Michigan) by a canal. You access this park via a vehicular bridge that crosses that narrow body of water. This is the third year in a row the canals have flooded their banks and water has encroached onto the sidewalks which run parallel to the canal.

I visited this park on Sunday, May 3rd after someone posted photos on Elizabeth Park’s Facebook site of a Canada Goose standing on a sidewalk that was submerged in water. I decided to go there and check out the flooding and see if I could get some similar pictures.

The flooding was pretty spectacular!

On one side of the vehicular bridge were some ducks. Did you notice that this duck and the ones in the header image are sitting on a rock? This big rock is normally part of the shoreline walkway.

On the other side of the vehicular bridge is where the Canada Goose was. There were no geese that day, just a pair of seagulls. It is interesting that these seagulls are not wading in water up to their knees (if a seagull has knees). They are standing on the same cement sidewalk that separates the canal from the local residences.

Here is a picture of how part of that sidewalk looks now.

I skirted the canal to take pictures of the flooding as it was incredulous to me how it looked. From the vehicular bridge, you can see how trees are standing in water and the banks are flooded. Many feet back from the flooded area, the grass was very soggy and it was like walking on a sponge. I was glad I wore my vinyl boots.

Here are some more pictures of the flooding damage in the low-lying areas.

This is in a wooded portion of Elizabeth Park – it is not part of the canal, but it is now a bog.

Thankfully not all areas of Elizabeth Park are flooded.

Of course, the ducks pay no mind to the excess water – they’re lovin’ it.

People use two idioms to describe rainy weather: “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “it’s lovely weather for ducks” … the ducks could care less if it rains every day because now they can just walk right into the water … easy-peasy for our feathered friends.

Elizabeth Park has Pekin ducks, those snowy-white, rather large ducks and they are quite tame as many people feed the ducks corn at this venue.

I was taking pictures of the Pekin duck when suddenly it glided right toward me …

… and walked right out of the water and proceeded to cross the sidewalk before my very eyes, not more than two feet away I might add.

So, why did the Pekin cross the road, er … sidewalk? To get to the other side where its Mallard Hybrid friends were of course!

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Growing up to be a Canada Goose.

(It’s a work in progress and certainly not the Mother Goose story you grew up with.)

Mama and Papa Goose swim … the goslings swim.

Mama and Papa Goose graze … the goslings graze too.

But, what happens when Mama and Papa Goose fight with each another? Whose side do ya take?

The narrative and photos in this post originate from the Fish & Loaves Virtual 5K that I participated in on May 9th and was the subject of yesterday’s blog post. During that trek, you may recall I saw a pair of Canada Geese at the Sawmill at Heritage Park.

Initially, when I took that picture, I failed to see their two goslings that were nearby in the water. Perhaps the parents felt threatened by my presence (though I was certainly not THAT close to them), as Mama and Papa Goose decided it was time to vamoose!

I watched as the parents slid into the water next to their offspring and began the journey across Coan Lake. Right away I noticed they had only two goslings, not the usual five or six. I felt a little sad wondering what happened to the rest of the clan?

Aren’t they sweet?

These geese and goslings had some powerful paddling prowess and crossed Coan Lake in a matter of minutes.

I decided to hightail it back near the covered bridge to be the official Welcoming Committee.

Mama Goose scoped me out to ensure I was not a threat to the family since I kept turning up like a bad penny.

Of course they had to have a bite to eat … all that swimming made them hungry.

Mama Goose, still skeptical of why I was there, watched me out of the corner of her eye while grazing.

When you’re still a wee one, of course your eyes get heavy with a tummyful of grass and while basking in the sunshine … sometimes you just have to take a load off your feet.

With geese, I notice they are always aware of their surroundings, swiveling their heads on their slender necks to ensure they and/or their brood are safe from land predators, or even human predators like me. But, it is also important to beware of strange non-waterfowl creatures that lurk at the water’s edge.

See how Mama checks out this Tree Swallow …

… who suddenly felt threatened and moved down the seawall. The gosling, mimicking its mother, craned its neck backward to scope out the Big Bad Tree Swallow.

The other gosling was too engrossed in eating to be bird watching. Look at those big feet!

Domestic bliss; then in a heartbeat … Mama and Papa go ballistic!

After their quick snack, I watched Mama and Papa Goose herd their small brood back to the water’s edge. Mama was in the lead, the two goslings toddling behind her. Those little chicks walked down the small ramp that the Mallards use to ease themselves into Coan Lake. Papa followed close behind.

A Fox squirrel appeared at my side, looking up at me and since I always carry peanuts in my pocket, I was happy to oblige him. In that few seconds that I reached for peanuts and bent down to give them to my furry pal, I almost missed all the action.

Suddenly I heard honking and splashing noises, then noticed a blur of brown wings flapping and water churning. Wow – a little goose drama is always good for a few shots in a blog post. I looked closely while wondering “so, was it an intruder trying to hurt Mama and/or her babies?”

Watching through the camera window, I was amazed to discover it was Mama and Papa who were having the spat. (In front of the kids no less!) It is not the first time I’ve seen what appeared to be mates fighting like this. It usually starts out as a honk or a hiss and soon, there goes the marital bliss!

Papa Goose was flailing about, his feathers obviously ruffled about something and Mama Goose was no slouch in this squabble either. She matched every hiss and honk by Papa Goose in kind. I wasn’t quick enough to get both of their bodies in one shot as they squared off like a couple of cowboy gunslingers, hissing wildly, eyes bugged out and necks stretched low to the surface of the water.

In the below photo you see just how aggressive Mama was with her mate! Meanwhile, the goslings were off to the side, their eyes glued to the scene like they were watching a pay-per-view fight night event. Yikes!

But I had a little smile when the fight was over and Mama, still a tad riled up, was joined by her goslings. Please notice the gosling on the left hissing at Papa. Yep, he’s a go-getter that one. 🙂

Soon Papa Goose joined the trio albeit a tad sulky and standoffish for now.

A mere moment later, all apparent grievances were resolved and everyone seemed happy for the time being and paddling around like nothing had happened.

Hmm – humans take note how easy that resolution was.

Postscript – A few minutes later the family climbed up on land again, Papa Goose was still lagging a little behind (perhaps not quite welcomed back into the fold of the family just yet). So, there I stood, the annoying women with the camera, who was ready to air their dirty laundry to the rest of the world. Mama Goose glared at me, so I got the heck out of Dodge before I was next to bear the brunt of her anger!

I’ll leave you with this quote:

The universe is wider than our views of it. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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On your mark, …


… GO!!!

Last Saturday I spent a delightful morning at Heritage Park. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while, know there is always something to see and write about when I go to this scenic and historical venue.

The ambiance makes Heritage Park a perfect place to have a peaceful meander year ‘round, but Spring is one of my favorite times, as the many flowering trees lend their pastel tones to an otherwise still-muted landscape. I was also hoping to glimpse some ducklings, as Coan Lake is always teeming with Mallards. I’m still hoping to fulfill my “Birdie Bucket List for 2020” by getting some duckling shots.

Well, it was not the day for ducklings … unbelievably, there were only two Mallards strutting around the grounds and none paddling in Coan Lake. I suspect, that out in the bushes, female Mallards were sitting on their nests and the males, a/k/a Drakes, were hovering nearby … you know them as nervous expectant fathers. 🙂

Annual Happy Soles 5K Run/Walk (with a twist).

I had not only chosen this venue for the above reasons, but I was there to participate in a virtual 5K walk for the local food pantry known as Fish & Loaves. This is their mission:

I have done two 5Ks in the past for this charity and the posts can be found here and here.

Last year I participated in four different 5Ks, raising money for charity while ambling along to enjoy the event and take pictures for a blog post. Two 5Ks raised money for local education, one for shelter pets and then there was Fish & Loaves.

So, when I received an e-mail to sign up for the Happy Soles Virtual 5K, I decided to give it a whirl – it’s the only organized walk I will do this year and this organization is in need of donations due to so much unemployment in our area.

The rules were to participate in a 5K walk or run, anywhere you wanted, any date/time between May 4th and June 30th, then, upon completion, you posted your results at the race website. A tee-shirt and finishing medal will be awarded the first week in July. Because I don’t have a smartphone, I could not officially sync/certify my race results, just post them. That’s okay, I never strive to get great race results anyway.

So let’s get started on this Virtual 5K for Fish & Loaves Food Pantry.

It was Saturday, May 9th – unbelievably, the weather was more like March. It was blustery and just 31F/-0C when I pulled into the parking lot at Heritage Park. It seemed hard to believe the weekend before people were walking around in shorts and tank tops and the cold weather on “race day” persisted long into the week we just ended, with traces of snow and record-setting cold weather.

As usual, I was masked up and the cold air was causing that all-too-familiar issue of fogging up my eyeglasses. I adjusted the mask so I could see where I was going and didn’t bump into anyone – not likely, as it seemed I was the only person there.

My favorite part of Heritage Park is the historical village. I like the old-time atmosphere there, the peace and tranquility of Coan Lake and its covered bridge, along with the aqua-colored hues of the water-powered Mill and the dribs and drabs of red from the caboose and box car, and of course, the Little Red Schoolhouse.

Coan Lake never disappoints (well usually).

I went straight to Coan Lake by the covered bridge looking for ducklings but was surprised to see no waterfowl at all – not a single seagull swooped preciously close to my head. That had to be a first for me, so I figured I would just meander around and return to Coan Lake later.

First up – The Little Red Schoolhouse.

On every trip to Heritage Park I always get a shot or two of the Taylor Heritage School, that cute, one-room schoolhouse near Coan Lake.

I must confess that on this day, however, my initial reason for stopping at the vintage-looking schoolhouse was because I decided to get a photo of my reflection in the door. I was wearing a wool hat pulled down to my eyebrows and all that was visible were my darkened eyeglasses and the big face mask. Surely this virtual race and my masked-up face would reflect the sign of the times. In fact, the signage at the Little Red Schoolhouse just solidified my thoughts.

The flash fizzled a bit, so I decided to abandon that idea and peek in the windows on the other side of the schoolhouse as there was very little sun glare.

Wait a minute! Aren’t all the Michigan kids being home schooled?!

I thought it would be fun to get pictures of these two students gazing wistfully out the side windows of the schoolhouse.

One day I’m going to attend the annual historical buildings open house and get some photos of the inside, instead of always peering in from the outside.

Next up was the log house where I peered in those windows as well.

Next on the walking agenda was the Water Mill Building. I love the subdued color and the big waterwheel and usually take a photo of this building every time I walk at Heritage Park.

I spotted the first Canada Geese of the day strutting their stuff by the gate. In this picture which I took from across Coan Lake, I didn’t notice at that time the parents were minding their offspring. I thought they were simply milling around the Mill.

I quickly walked over to see if I could get a better shot of them, but they decided to move to the water’s edge. I got this picture which included a Tree Swallow who nearly photobombed that shot.

The two geese plopped into the water shortly after I arrived and quickly set out, their goslings obediently trailing behind Mom. Usually the goslings number around five or six, so I was a little sad to see only two goslings for this family. This was the only family of geese I saw at Heritage Park. I took several pictures of the family over the next half-hour and I’ll include them in a separate post.

Swallows were swooping, dive-bombing and photo bombing nearly every shot I took, but when I tried to take a picture of them on their own, they flew away. They move very quickly, so I was lucky to get one swallow resting quietly on a boulder near the covered bridge.

Next, I decided to stroll over to the Petting Farm and Botanical Gardens.

Heritage Park Petting Farm.

I don’t know if they were open for business or not due to the pandemic. I got as close to the white wooden fence as I could, craning my neck for a sign of life in the barnyard. A few non-screaming goats congregated in one area of the pen, while a sheep was baaing loudly – was he protesting something … a late breakfast, looking for his kinfolk? I don’t know, but that critter kept it up the entire time I walked the outskirts of the farm.

Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Just a few more months (and a little more warmth), and the Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will be bursting at the seams with colorful blooms, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I’ve been to the Botanical Gardens plenty of times in the Summer in search of hummers, but sadly they elude me, even on the hottest and most tropical-feeling days. I aim to take pictures of those lovely creatures, so I’ll be beating a path there once more flowers are out.

I wandered around the area, taking a few pictures of the now rather bare-bones landscape. A few perennials were up and blooming and hardy annuals as well, all adding a touch of color.

But fear not … a little TLC by the many volunteers and Mother Nature’s sunshine will be the ingredients for beauty to surround us in a month or so. The Botanical Gardens features music in the park all Summer; but likely these events will be cancelled, like all our other favorite Summer pastimes as the pandemic rages on.

I chatted with a volunteer who was bent over weeding a garden by this bench.

She told me the gusts of wind were not so great for “potting day” at the Park.

The Community and Good Will Gardens were barren, awaiting the planting of veggie and flower seeds, or plants by the hardworking folks who tend the gardens and reap the benefits by late Summer.

I’ve written a few posts about the gardens in the past and you met Mike who reserves two plots every year – one for his veggies and one for his wife’s flowers. I know all these folks are eager to get their fingers into the soil, but right now it is closed due to the pandemic.

I stopped to take a handful of photos before departing the historical area of Heritage Park. I like this old piece of farm equipment behind the Taylor Historical Museum.

I met the fellow who feeds corn to the ducks every morning and we chatted it up a little. I’ve written about him in the past. I mentioned I was doing my virtual 5K because last year he was a volunteer near the last leg of the race. I asked “where are all the ducks?” He said he’d not seen any either and was going to the feed store for more corn. “Well perhaps that will bring them back” I told him.

The very last stop in the historical area was the train station where the weathered boxcar and Fitz’s Caboose share the railroad tracks. The boxcar is in the foreground with the Greenwald Herkimer House in the background, enhanced by the Red Jade Crabtree, one of many flowering trees I saw on my trek. This historic house sells confectionaries and candles.

There was a man walking three beagles (or rather, they were walking him). They went past the caboose, which is next to the replica of the historic George Hand Train Station.

The beagles soon were baying, which piqued the interest of these two large dogs and they immediately stood at attention. Look how warm their owner/handler was dressed on the 9th of May!

Soon I heard them baying a second time, no doubt at this Fox squirrel that I treated to peanuts just a few minutes before – hope he got a chance to enjoy them before scrambling up the nearest tree.

Now it was time for my trek on the walking track.

I glanced at my trusty pedometer just before setting out on the asphalt perimeter path that encircles the non-historical part of the park. I knew from prior races it is 1.2 miles long and about 3,000 steps. I planned to do this walk on the track in conjunction with my steps already taken, in and around the other spots in the Park. It is not as scenic as when the 5K event is held in early June but here are some photos taken along the way.

I asked if I could take this young woman’s photo since it was Mother’s Day weekend and I smiled when I saw her hoodie emblazoned with “Dog Mom”.

Another event cancellation and not doable virtually is the Junior League World Series that has been held at Heritage Park every August the last four decades. This sign touts that event and the smaller signs document each winner since 1981.

I ended up walking 5 ½ miles altogether and that fulfilled my 5K obligation as part of those steps.

Even though it feels as though the rest of the world is shut down, a solitary walk is always enjoyable, especially with so much to see along the way.

[Images of Happy Soles Virtual Run/Walk logo and Fish & Loaves mission from Fish & Loaves website]

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Downy Delight on the Detroit River #Wordless Wednesday #It was Mother’s Day, but no ducklings, goslings or cygnets were here.

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

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Sentiments about Scents and Centsibilities.

If you had a dollar for every social media meme you’ve seen since this global pandemic began, you could buy yourself a very nice present. First, it was the toilet paper conundrum, followed by social distancing. Soon the meme themes shifted to hunkering down at home and packing on those pounds referred to as “the Quarantine Fifteen” … now the meat shortage memes have begun to surface. One thing is for sure … those funnies have served the purpose of lightening the mood and passing the time during our stay-at-home daze.

For years, before our eyes ever encountered any pandemic-type humor, I’ll bet your inbox had a few of those vintage-type e-mails that featured a collection of remembrances from the 50s, 60s or 70s.

I got such an e-mail recently that began “you will enjoy this if you are over 60 years old.” Well, I could hold up my hand, since I am in that category. The gist of that e-mail was recounting products we enjoyed back in the 60s. There was a treasure trove of memories in that e-mail and I found myself nodding my head, while scrolling through those trends which ranged from food and drinks to games and clothing.

I lingered for a long time looking at games from back in the day. Oh yes … I played Jacks, Allies (a/k/a Marbles) and Pick Up Sticks.

Yep, I remember shaking the cereal box to see what prize was in the bottom, or begging Mom to let me order “Sea Monkeys” (which she called “plain nonsense”), so I moved on to some other distraction.

That particular e-mail was like taking a trip down Memory Lane. I could recall many of those items, not only because I ate, drank, played with, or wore them, but because of the TV and radio jingles as well.

But, as I scrolled on and on, suddenly my eyes alighted on an image of Evening in Paris cologne, a popular scent back in the early 60s.

That image stopped me in my tracks and instantly resonated with me, as I recalled a fond memory about that cobalt blue bottle with the pointy gold-toned cap.

I was a wee nipper wearing ankle socks and Mary Jane shoes

Some events in our young lives are easily forgettable, but some have become golden memories. Today I want to reflect on a special Mother’s Day, circa 1962, and a special teacher named Mrs. Deakon.

This is a picture of our Grade One class and the beloved Mrs. Deakon.

I’ve written about this exceptional teacher a couple of times in the past. For kindergarten, a teacher is more or less a babysitter for our first time away from the comforts of home. There was not a whole lot of angst in kindergarten. Heck, school was a half-day session with naptime and cookies and milk. But Grade One – wow, this was big kid stuff. You removed your own galoshes, hung up your own coat and warm woolens in the cloakroom, sat at a little wooden desk and learned the three Rs and French too. Mrs. Deakon was exceptional – she helped us be creative and made learning fun. Like writing this story about our pets.

Of all the teachers I have ever had, Mrs. Deakon was my favorite. (Even though she didn’t give me a 10/10 on my story about Co-Co.) 🙂

Celebrating Mother’s Day back in ’62.

Mother’s Day was just around the corner and with that calendar date creeping ever closer, Mrs. Deakon helped us students create cards for our mothers, which we fashioned from construction paper and a whole lot of love. We drew a stick figure in crayon representing Mommy with a dress, maybe a chunky necklace, (the likes of garb and jewelry worn by TV cartoon character Wilma Flintstone), and, of course, we were standing next to Mommy, a much-smaller stick figure. A few flourishes of flowers and hearts were added, then we painstakingly printed our names and lots of XOXOXOs.

Mrs. Deakon admired our handiwork, then helped us make envelopes for our creations, which we sealed with more Xs and Os and mucilage. (You do remember mucilage from your childhood days don’t you?)

But our good deed for our respective mothers did not end with that simple card. Mrs. Deakon said she would let us “go shopping” for a special present for our Mommies. She wanted us to ask Daddy for a quarter to buy a present at school. I don’t recall if she sent a note home with us to give to him or not.

So, let the shopping begin!

When we arrived for class the next day, Mrs. Deakon had cleared off the top of her desk and set up a collection of small gifts that she had brought in for us to buy for Mother’s Day. When I think back now, I don’t know if our kindly teacher brought in her own gifts (thus she would simply be “re-gifting” them to us for our respective mothers, though I doubt that term was around back then), or, perhaps she had bought this assortment of items with her own money. It’s a sure bet that our classmates’ collection of quarters were not enough to cover the costs for the array of gifts displayed in our classroom, nor the gift wrap and ribbons either.

The only gifts that I recall being on display were one bottle of Evening in Paris cologne, some bubble bath and a slew of knitted items. The latter I recall as Mom loved to knit and often made matching cardigans for my dolly and me (and later, knitted outfits for my Barbie dolls).

Well, I was drawn to that bottle of cologne – perhaps I’d seen it advertised on TV, or on the glossy pages of Mom’s Good Housekeeping magazine. Maybe I just liked that pretty blue bottle, but I decided that would be the gift I chose. I never recalled Mom using cologne or perfume – she smelled of Lifebuoy soap and baby powder. I know money was dear in those days and cologne was probably considered a frivolous purchase. (Yes, I heard my parents talking, even arguing, about money and I was always warned any of their discussions overheard should never be spoken of outside the house.) My parents never went out for social events as they didn’t want to leave me with a babysitter and my maternal grandparents lived 25 miles away. My father only gave Mom practical gifts through the years, like pajamas, or a soup pot – one time he got her a griddle so she would make pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast.

My quarter yielded more than just a pleasant scent to dab behind Mom’s ears.

After we chose our gifts, Mrs. Deakon had even brought in some tissue paper and a little ribbon. She let us wrap our presents, making a bit of a mess as we grappled with Scotch tape and tissue paper that may have torn a little as we struggled to conceal our chosen gifts and make them pretty for the big presentation on Sunday.

On Mother’s Day, I remember I presented my card and gift and Mom had tears in her eyes and gave me a big hug and a kiss, then put my card and cologne on display. But, when her tears had stopped and she could speak again without the emotion of the moment choking her up, she asked where I got the gift.

My father, having witnessed this sentimental exchange, told her the story and I filled her in on the details of what Mrs. Deakon had done.

On Monday morning, after the school bell rang and we sang God Save the Queen, we were permitted a few minutes to tell Mrs. Deakon how our moms liked the cards and gifts. I will never know what possessed this teacher to do such a kind deed, but I am sure I am not the only one in that class, nor their mother, who has fond memories of Mother’s Day 1962.

There is a postscript to this little tale

I presume I got a small allowance growing up, though I really don’t recall what I would have spent it on. We had no stores that us neighborhood kids would walk to. I wasn’t allowed to eat candy, so I guess I just hung onto it? My allowance was supplemented by the occasional dime from my grandmother, or money left in exchange for a baby tooth tucked under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy … hmm, I wonder what the going rate was, maybe a penny, a nickel or a dime in those days?

Mom’s gift made such a hit for Mother’s Day 1962 and by Christmas that year, I was in Mrs. Jamieson’s class, so there would be no more opportunities for gift shopping at school courtesy of Mrs. Deakon. I saved my money and scraped together the equivalent of a quarter and asked my father if he would take me shopping for a Christmas gift for Mommy. He probably thought it was a dumb idea and what could a kid get for a quarter if you were not relying on the kindly Mrs. Deakon? But I had it all figured out beforehand and told him we could just go to the grocery store. Once in the store, I searched up and down the produce aisles until I found what I wanted … the biggest Spanish onion in the bin.

It’s funny what you remember when you’re a kid – in fact your parents might even have joked that you had “selective hearing” (yes, you’re smiling and nodding your head).

My parents were 30 years old when I was born and I was an only child. So, with no siblings to distract me, I listened and observed a lot. Yes, I was mindful of what happened around me. Before I started kindergarten I trailed after my mom, watching her do what most other housewives did in the late 50s/early 60s … cooking/baking, cleaning, washing and ironing.

One time Mom made us grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch.

She had a huge onion and carefully sliced it onto the cheese before grilling it. She said “Mommy bought herself a treat when we got groceries. I got this sweet onion besides a bag of cooking onions and I’m going to slice some of it onto this sandwich.” That onion idea didn’t much appeal to me, so when she asked if I wanted a taste, I shook my head “no” then remembering my manners, said “no thank you.”

That conversation stuck with me, like that mucilage … so that is why I asked my father if we could go to the grocery store – that onion would be my first Christmas present I bought for Mom. I asked Mom for some paper to wrap up her present, and, on Christmas morning, when she unwrapped it, just like the bottle of cologne, Mom got tears in her eyes. I’m sure she remembered our conversation.

Mom was never big on flowers as a gift. Oh, I remember picking dandelions or buttercups and thrusting them toward her saying “Mommy, I picked these for you!” She’d be gracious about it, but she really loved oddball things like those onions … or Red Rose Mixed Sweet Pickles and tomato relish. That’s because she grew up in a household where, during the growing season, her parents “put up” green or red tomato relish that they called “chow-chow”. In late Summer, every weekend my grandfather was busy peeling onions in the basement, while my grandmother was stewing tomatoes over a hot stove. My grandmother didn’t like to cook or bake (I have her genes), but she rolled up her sleeves, tied on a big apron and really got into this project, just like her own mother did for years. The result was many Mason jars of green or red tomato chow chow that were lined up on fruit cellar shelves and they could slather it onto ham sandwiches, or eggs, or just plain toast. My mother did no canning or putting up pickles or preserves or chow chow, but she used to talk about how she enjoyed those treats. Whenever we went to a fruit and veggie stand while out on a Sunday drive in the country, she’d always be scanning their wares for a similar product.

One time I went to pick up some holiday goodies at the Honey Baked Ham store and saw they had red tomato chow chow. On a lark I got her a case of 12 bottles for her Valentine’s Day birthday. It made her smile and became a regular staple in this house until they stopped carrying it.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone to whom this greeting applies.

Let me leave you with this quote: “Everyone has those random memories that make you smile.” ~ Anonymous

[Images from Pinterest. The rest are my own.] 

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Mama’s munchkins.

As Mother’s Day nears, I am always happy to discover at least one pair of Canada Geese and their brand-new goslings to spotlight for Mother’s Day weekend. I’ve generally been pretty lucky to get a few shots for that special event.

Throughout April, in my everyday jaunts to Council Point Park, I diligently peered along the banks of the Ecorse Creek for swan and/or goose nests to no avail. I’ve always wanted a picture of Mama Goose sitting on a nest; maybe I need to add that sought-after shot to my “Birdie Bucket List” for down the road.

As you know from Sunday’s post, I glimpsed the first family of geese on Tuesday, April 28th, but had not toted the camera with me. The family was paddling in the Ecorse Creek and the fuzzy little darlings had formed a neat row behind one parent, likely Mom, with the other parent bringing up the rear to keep any stragglers in check. Geese are no slackers – the same day goslings hatch, their parents lead them to the water for their first swim. Those goslings were the smallest I’ve ever seen make their debut.

Generally, we walkers have our first gosling sighting of the year in a somewhat secluded area near the twisted tree. This is likely because this spot has easy access to the Creek if the family needs to make a quick getaway due to a predator. As the goslings get older, the families gravitate to the grassier areas of the Park where the whole family engages in non-stop grazing for another six weeks, before departing for the Summer.

After two days of rain and mothballing my camera during my Park outings for a month, I was anxious to return to the Park to get those coveted gosling shots for a Mother’s Day weekend post. Thankfully I did so, as it was the last day we could access Council Point Park for a while. I will wonder daily about the status of all the critters there – life will, of course, go on for them regardless of the pause we must take from the Park, but I am sure they wonder where their benefactors are?

Mama and Papa and their brood.

A week ago Friday, a walker pointed me in the right direction and I high-tailed it over to the twisted tree. There they were, a half-dozen goslings toddling after their parents. These wee ones, with their sturdy legs and big feet, run very quickly, and, after a flurry of shots, in past years, I often get home with images of gosling butts, beaks or just bodies, as they have run right out of the picture frame before I snapped the shot. 🙂 Their parents take it slow and easy on the Park grounds, leisurely nibbling on grass and meandering along. The only time they move quickly is for territorial fighting or defending their young ‘uns, should anyone, or anything, stray overly close to their babies. I’ve learned over the years to steer clear of the gander, as he vigilantly protects his family and is apt to hiss with his bright-pink tongue as he flaps his wings warning us to stay away. I will veer off the path every time, even if the grass is soggy, to avoid goose histrionics and/or getting myself goosed by the gander!

I admired the family …

… but didn’t have much time to take pictures as they were clearly on the move. Mama Goose had announced it was time for more swimming lessons, so, one by one, the family members waddled down to the water’s edge. Years ago, you could hear the goslings plop into the Creek, but the water level has risen so high the past few years, now they simply walk right into the water.

I got this photo as they paddled swiftly, churning up the water, but then the budding bushes got in the way, so I had to run down to an area that was more open to watch them.

The swimming lessons didn’t last too long. The family simply crossed to the opposite side of the Creek, with the goslings obediently following along behind a parent to explore a new site to graze and run around some more.

I turned my attention back to my walk and Parker, who alerted me with an accusatory stare, that he was there and ready to receive peanuts and I’d ogled the goslings long enough.

Well, it looks like I really lucked out – there was a second family!

As I took a picture of Parker’s shameless begging, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a second family of Canada Geese lurking in the bushes. Perhaps “lurking” is not the best choice of words, but I caught sight of the parents and noticed one of the adults stretching its neck out in a back-and-forth motion, a sure sign of agitation, most likely with my presence. So I backed off a bit, as my glasses were fogged up from the mask so I couldn’t see 100% anyway and I certainly did not want to tangle with any geese.

After stepping back onto the path, the gander relaxed and joined its mate where they were poking around the ground cover and sparse grass.

Their six offspring seemed to mimic their parents as they flipped over crisp leaves or twigs, filling their black bills with tender grass shoots wherever they could uncover them. A couple of goslings were already making themselves heard with loud squeaks and peeps, just a preview of coming attractions.

I took a few photos, knowing that the shady area was not going to make for stellar shots, but that was okay too – the already-fuzzy goslings might just look a little fuzzier from my vantage point.

I had just settled in to take more pictures, when the agenda abruptly changed as one parent had commandeered the contingent of goslings to head down to the water. This was not as easy for them to navigate as the previous family, as they were not right at the shoreline. I watched from afar through the brush while, one by one, the goslings gingerly picked their way down the slope and were soon afloat, once again in a neat queue with one parent up front and a parent bringing up the rear before they quickly disappeared out of view.

I finished my walk on a real high, the euphoria of seeing and photographing two sets of Canada Geese and their goslings, a pair of American Black Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, a Downy Woodpecker, a Cardinal, a Blue Jay, a Cottontail Rabbit and finally a collection of squirrels, of the Gray, Black and Fox varieties. I narrowly missed grabbing the image of a Groundhog (hey, you win some – you lose some).

Hours later, however, my euphoria was dimmed by the downer of discovering Council Point Park would be closed for an undetermined amount of time. Hopefully it is open soon to enable me to get some photos of the families as they grow up. I went to Elizabeth Park on Sunday, my camera in tow, and got some more gosling shots, which I’ll share in an upcoming post.

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