Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The greening

Taking a walk in the Jacksonville arboretum.

There’s nothing more special than watching your world transform from winter brown to brilliant spring green. But sometimes those of us in the north get impatient while Mother Nature takes one step toward sunlight and falls two steps back into sloppy slushy cold.

Peeking out to see the sun.

So you can’t blame a person for skipping all of those last moments of winter and retreating to warmer climes. Like Florida. And that’s what I’ve done.

Magnolias are in bloom here.

A friend in Florida wanted to take a short vacation, but her two dogs couldn’t go with her, and she wasn’t comfortable putting them in a kennel.

Whimsical tree.

And on a whim she asked me if I’d consider coming down to house sit with her lovely pooches. My calendar was open for the proposed dates. Hmmmm… let me think…would I like to stay in the cold north and continue to watch winter fighting it out with spring?

Cedar stumps create sculpture covered in moss.

Or would I like to walk barefoot on a sunny beach, watch palm trees sway against blue skies.

Pops of color everywhere if you look.

Let me think about that.

Spiderwort grows wild here.

So here I am, hanging out with two sweet boys, enjoying the sunshine and the warmer temperatures. Sure tomorrow is going to be stormy and we’ll be stuck inside all day.

Pretty shell-like fungus hides in the shade.

But that’s OK. It’s almost guaranteed not to snow.

It’s called Christmas licen, bright red on tree trunks.


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Beautifully unwanted

Yesterday we experienced hail, sleet, and a tiny bit of snow but mostly cold driving rain fell all day. It was a no good kind of day through and through. And this morning I woke to this.

Early morning blue light shows off the overnight snow.

It was the ‘blue hour’ when Katie-girl decided we needed to go outside. I couldn’t help but try to capture the magic that surprised me once we got outside.

Wet snow covered every detail.

And then, as the sun came up I saw how truly beautiful, but truly unnecessary, it all was. From the warmth of our living room I framed the backyard, ornamented by some Florida seashells on the mantel.

Cold and warmth represented.

I liked the juxtaposition, not the snow.

Still, it was stunning, and on my way to an appointment in town I couldn’t help but park and dart out to take a picture or two.

No matter how boring the scene, the snow made it prettier.

Or three.

I knew it wouldn’t last long and by the time I got back home it would be gone. No chance to take Katie for a walk in it, no time for formal portraits against the black and white art of Mother Nature.

Swampy wetlands looked beautiful against the black and white of the trees beyond.

No, just a few clicks with the camera on my phone in the early morning light would have to do.

Even muddy dirt roads look good decorated with fresh sticky snow.

It was beautiful and it was gone within the hour. I hope that’s the last of our snow for this season.

Spring green of the willow competes with stark white of yet another snowfall.

Our grass has greened, the trees are budding and our early spring flowers are in bloom.

No early morning golfers today.

Time for winter to let it go.

Just stop.

But it’s Michigan, so I’m not betting on it.

Waiting patiently for summer.


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How did YOU celebrate National Pet Day?

Katie here.

Mama took me to one of my parks to celebrate National Pet Day yesterday. I didn’t expect her to remember, because, as you all know, she’s pretty ancient and remembering things never was easy for her even back when I was little and she was younger.

Beat you up the hill mama!

She must have written it on her calendar or something.

Anyway, she was going to take me to this one park with a long trail through the woods, but on the way she noticed another park that had been closed all winter was open! Even though there was snow on the ground she said this was a sign that it was really spring!

Perfect weather for a sheltie-girl!

But of course she wanted to capture the image of our (hopefully) last snow, so she made me sit in it.

You better have good treats mama, cause this is worth at least two of them.

Really mama. I didn’t want to sit in it. Cause I don’t like getting wet, and of course I did get wet. So I refused to walk at all until she got that snow off of my behind.

How embarrassing. Now she’s showing the world my behind.

Mama is not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know what I mean?

People had been through this park over the winter and cleaned out a lot of underbrush. I don’t know why, but it did make seeing our town easier.

Our little town.

Yep, that’s our town. It’s only one block long and most of the stores are empty. When mama tells people we don’t live near anything she’s telling the truth! Personally I like it that way, makes it easier to get to my parks! Plus traffic makes me bark.

Mama and I went up and down a lot of hills, mama was looking for fun stuff to photograph that wasn’t me.

These were weird, they looked like treats but mama wouldn’t let me eat any.

She found a bunch of stuff, but I figured that each time the shutter clicked I should get a treat whether or not I was the subject. I think that’s in my contract – one click one treat. Nothing in there says I have to be the center of every photo. I don’t think. Maybe I should check that…I might need an addendum attached.

By the time we turned back almost all the snow was gone. Mama could only find little bits of it in odd places.

A little snow caught in the hollows of a branch.

I was happy because she didn’t make me sit in it again, but I wasn’t happy about heading back to the car. We only went one mile mama!

I’m sitting right here until you reconsider ending our walk.

But in the end I guess the mama knows best. After all I’m twelve now, and sometimes I over do and then I end up at the vet. Plus she promised me we’d go to another park soon.

I just hope she wrote it on her calendar.

Signing off for now, your park explorer girl Katie.

Feeling hopeful.


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Smiles can come from the smallest things

Trent coordinates a weekly smile post over at his blog, inviting us all to find at least one thing each week that made us smile, and then share it with all of you.

Nice concept, don’t you think?

I’ve been out walking a lot and this little bit of nature made me smile a whole lot…

A bit of green in early April always makes me smile.

…because it felt like spring.

What made you smile this week? Share with us! Cause it’s going to snow here soon and I’m pretty sure we could all use a smile.


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The trees talked to me

On an impulse, and because I’m still working on my 365 days of walks, I took my camera and wandered the woods of my favorite local park. It was later in the day than I’d normally be out there, and though I had seed and peanuts for any bird I ran into, I wasn’t out there to find picture of birds.

An overcast sky couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

I just wanted to be in the woods.

When I arrived two school bus loads of elementary students were milling about. Not a good sign. But luckily they were loading up to go, so I skirted their noisy mass and headed for the trail the furthest away from chaos.

So much texture and color if you just look.

There I began to notice the trees, and it was as if they were speaking directly to me. Who, they said, ever notices them? Most people are out in these woods looking for birds to feed, or deer to watch, or wildflowers nudging up from the wetlands.

Nothing out here but me and the trees.

Who notices our bark, they wonder, our towering stature. Who appreciates the shade we provide or the abstract art our branches draw? Who even takes note of the songs we sing when the wind blows and our branches rub against each other?

Oh wait. Let me take a closer look. I’m feeling watched.

So this post was going to be all about the trees, the different textures and shapes and sounds I experienced while I was there.

Tree art.

It wasn’t going to be about birds or deer or chipmunks or squirrels.

But as I was concentrating on capturing this lovely old log…

Even in death a tree provides nourishment and life.

…I heard from somewhere behind me a gentle cry, almost a soft whining. I looked back to find this little one asking politely if I had something, anything, for him to eat.

I’m sorry to interrupt you, lady, but have you got something for me?

Normally the nuthatches are a little more reticent and don’t come down to my hand until they’ve studied me awhile, until other birds, those brave titmice or the cheeky chickadee have made successful landings. But this little guy was hungry and no one else was around, so he had to be brave.

Thanks lady! Peanuts are my favorite!

And just like that birds began arriving from every direction.

And it was that way the rest of my walk.

Flight paths became crowded.

But along the way I did find other beautiful things. Like these fungus growing along a fallen log.

A bit of green on a cool spring afternoon.

And the last bit of winter color hanging on.

Some red to brighten the landscape.

And as I climbed a hill I ran into these guys.

Three gents out for a stroll, looking for love or lunch, whichever comes first.

Still looking for interesting trees, I turned to walk around the small lake, and was approaching my favorite stand of white pines, rounding a corner, and literally had to stop in my tracks. Because marching down the path toward me were a pair of cranes without a care in the world.

The lunch menu today seems a bit thin, don’t you think honey?

They walked right up to me as I was clicking away, and, without seeming to notice me, walked on by within inches of my hip. This didn’t really surprise me as the cranes here are so used to people. They usually ask for something to eat, but I’m a bit timid about letting them eat out of my hand. So I tossed them a few seeds and moved away to watch.

Aren’t their colors wonderful?

I had to laugh as they moved on down the trail and one of them stopped to stretch.

Awkward!

I continued on my way around the lake, anxious now to get back to the car. I had more than enough photos to choose from for my one photo of the day. And I’d been out there for a couple hours already and had barely walked 2 miles. Couldn’t even count this walk as exercise!

But the surprises weren’t over.

Around a few more corners, almost back to the busiest part of the park, I saw a deer munching on lunch. And behind her was something white. At first I thought it was just something caught in a tree, some trash perhaps.

Or maybe it was a cow.

What you lookin at lady?

A cow? Oh no, not a cow, but the fabled albino deer I’d heard about but never hoped to see. I didn’t get close, and there was a lot of brush and trees between me and it. But oh my.

Be still my heart.

I stood quietly for a very long time, just watching, not wanting to startle it or cause it to run. Eventually I eased myself further away long the path with a huge smile on my face. A once in a lifetime sighting.

So that was my day wandering in the park, talking to the trees and my usual suspects of birds. For a day when I didn’t think I’d see much of anything I sure had some wonderful experiences.

Thinking back on it all I feel, just like Mr. Blackbird, like crowing.

Hello world! Wasn’t this a magnificent day!


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Making up to yours truly

Katie here!

It’s boring around here.

I figured I should bring you up to speed, since last time I stopped by mama had thoroughly disappointed me by not doing anything much of anything for my Gotcha Day. Then she made me sit in the yard with a bunch of rubber ducks. I was not amused. But I’m happy that some of you found it cute.

Ahem.

Well, mama’s been a disappointment all month. Thursday she actually sent me to the groomer and then, while I was there, she went for a walk without me! She said it was really muddy and she was glad she didn’t have me with her.

This would have been a disaster if I had been with mama!

I have to agree, it wasn’t a princess worthy walk. I don’t like the groomer, but I guess it was better that I was there than getting my feet wet and dirty!

Then on Friday mama left me home and took herself off to her favorite park and walked around there for more than two hours! Without me!! I don’t understand what is the matter with her brain!? She still owed me something for my Gotcha Day! And she takes off with the camera and leaves her sheltie at home??

Well! After she got home and made my dinner daddy suggested that maybe I would like to go for a walk. Daddy is brilliant, though he maybe suggested it because I was huffing at him and bugging him and he figured he’d pawn me off on mama.

Let’s get going mama!

But it worked! Mama said sure baby-girl! Let’s go to your park! It was such a nice evening, and you know what? The sun came out while we were there! Just for us cause no one else was out there.

Look mama! It’s the SUN!

We had such a nice walk that I’ve decided to forgive mama for her lapses in judgement. It was the perfect length, not too long, not too short. And mama and I sat together on a little hill and cuddled for a little bit too. Don’t tell my dad, he might get jealous.

Let’s just sit here for awhile mama!

I guess mama and daddy really do love me, even if sometimes they forget important days, they always make it up to me. Cause I don’t let them off the hook.

Signing off for now, one happy sheltie-girl.

Thanks mama! I think we’re even now!


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Birding around

I have all these photos, taken during our March 31st snowstorm and now it’s feeling warmer and the snow is long gone and if I don’t post these soon I never will.

Yes, the snow is gone, at least down here in Southeast Michigan. Not to say it won’t be back. But at least we’re not still covered in snow like our friends to the north.

Last week we a were enjoying a beautiful day when I noticed this out my kitchen window…

“Seems a little small, lady. Do you have anything with three bedrooms and two baths?”


…and the next day the view out my kitchen window looked like this:

“Brrrrr….I should have migrated South.”

I spent much of the morning sitting in my nice warm living room taking pictures of frantic birds landing on the feeders.

“It’s a smorgasbord!”

Eventually I put the camera on a tripod, sat on the sofa, and used my phone to release the shutter in order to get these shy gold finches.

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It was so much fun!

I never know exactly what I’m going capture when I’m trying to shoot birds. Sometimes I’m surprised when I download everything and take a look. This one made me laugh.

Take off!

I know professional bird photographers spend hours and hours preparing for a particular bird shoot…and it takes a bit of luck too. I feel pretty lucky that I can sit here and watch all these little guys stop by for a visit.

I hope you enjoyed my birds as much as I do!

If we’re lucky this was the last snowy day around here for awhile.