Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Reunion in the woods

After more than a year of near isolation, this week I was finally able to travel to Ann Arbor to visit my Aunt. We used to get together regularly, to attend concerts and theater, to walk in gardens or around her neighborhood. But since February of 2020 we’ve only connected on the phone.

Backlit may apple blossom hiding under the leaves.

But we’re both fully vacinated and when the CDC lifted some restrictions we both felt comfortable meeting for a walk through the woods.

I’m not sure what this plant is. It was tall, with small leaves on the flower stem, but larger leaves at the ground.

She said she’s been walking at a metropark and that the dogwood was gorgeous this year. I hadn’t noticed dogwood in my woods yet so I was excited to see it for myself.

The yellow flowers were beautiful around this bench.

It was a Monday, when most people were working, so we had the woods to ourselves. The sun was shining, and it was warm enough to take off the sweatshirt early in our walk.

Happy little violets were tucked away everywhere.

We had such a lovely time, chatting and bringing each other up to date on things we’d been doing during the pandemic year.

Little vignettes like this were easy to find.

The woods glowed for us, with trillium….

Not the sweeping waves of trillium of last week, but elegant in it’s own way.

…and wild geranium….

Such a simple shape, but so pretty.

…and even several jack in the pulpit plants!

A clump of 4, two facing each way.

But it was the dogwood that stole the show. It was everywhere toward the end of our walk. I loved the shapes…

A hint of color, but a distinctive shape in silhouette.

I loved the color.

I loved the optimism that dogwood provides, proof summer is on the way.

Dogwood lined the bike path.

Everything in the woods that day made me smile, but what made me smile the most was finally spending time with my Aunt. That’s priceless.

Into the woods.


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Remembering Ricky

Katie here.

Mama said I could get on her blog to tell you about my buddy Ricky who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. He was one of the original dogs with blogs, and mama found his blog years and years ago when we were all youngsters. There were a bunch of shelties with blogs back then — Ricky and Misty and Miley and Reilly and Ludo and Morgan.

Mama thinks there were more, but she can’t think straight when her eyes are leaking.

Anyway, we noticed Ricky right away because he was such a dapper little man. So much sophistication in such a little package. Mama likes to call him Little Ricky, because he was tiny.

But he had a big personality.

Ricky had fun with agility, but he liked to do it his way. His mom worked and worked to speed him up, but Ricky was his own guy and took those obstacles at a speed he deemed appropriate. Especially, as we remember, the dogwalk where he liked to survey the entire facility as he moved arcross the top. Ricky, always so elegant, never felt there was a need to hurry.

Ricky was really good at learning tricks too, and for a time he learned a new trick every week. His mom posted videos of his latest accomplishments and we were always so impressed! He learned to hold things in his mouth, and spin to the left and the right, to play dead, and so much more. He was so smart, and he made mama and lots of other people smile every week.

In fact, Ricky was something of a celebrity, he had so many people that enjoyed watching him learn new things. I told mama that we should try to meet him, and she said she’d see if she could arrange it. And guess what? I got to visit Ricky two times! It isn’t often that a girl from a small town gets to meet one of her idols in real life, you know?

In fact, visiting Ricky was one of my very first big adventures, cause they lived hours away from me and in a different state and everything! It was on a trip to visit Ricky that I proved to mama that I was a good traveler!

Ricky was such a gracious host. He shared his house and his people and his beautiful yard with me without any protest. He was such a cool dude, we got along great because we ignored each other most of the time. He didn’t even get mad when I drank out of his waterbowl!

He was so polite and nice to me that when we stayed over night at his house I decided to invite him into our bedroom (OK, it was really his room, but he let us stay there) to do obedience with mama and me so that he could get some treats from her too. Ricky really loved treats.

And that first visit he took me in his car to one of his parks! I was so excited! Ricky, of course, was too cool to be excited about a car ride with a silly girl.

It was a very very beautiful park with a little stream at the bottom of a big gorge. We walked and walked, with lots of sniffing thrown in. Wherever Ricky sniffed, I sniffed; he was sharing all the best stuff with me!

And when we climbed back out of the ravine there were beautiful gardens and we sat close to each other on this little wall so the moms could take pictures. He was much more patient than I was with the whole picture taking thing. This was way before I contracted with mama about the one picture, one treat clause, so we ended up sitting for way too many pictures for way too few treats. But Ricky never got upset.

He was such a special boy.

I visited him a second time, and by then he had a little sister who was, of course, bigger than he was. We all went to a park together again and had a wonderful time. Ricky was so patient with all the girls, his mom, my mama, his sister and me.

I am so sad that Ricky had to go on ahead. But I can imagine him exploring the whole place, and finding the best sniffing spots, and where all the good treats are. And I bet he’s found Ludo and Reilly and Denny and Morgan and Misty too by now. Just picture it, all those shelties running and laughing and enjoying snacks. All those sheltie smiles as they play together while they wait for the rest of us to arrive.

It’s got to be one amazing place, over the Rainbow Bridge. I wish he could have stayed here with his mom and dad and sister, but I know he’s happy there too. He may have been a little guy, but he sure shouldered a whole lot of love from all of us who knew him.

See you later, Little Ricky. I’m so glad I got to meet you, and I’ll never forget your friendship. You were and always will be one classy dude.

-Love, your pal forever, Katie.


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The next day

When I left you last, we had just spent the late afternoon exploring Trillium Hill and some of the backroads around Leelanau County. The next morning I lounged around in bed for a bit, enjoying the view from my window. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.

Pretty in pink.

After we spent some time tickling orange tummies, we headed back out to see what we would find.

No reason to rush out of the house.

Since we had seen Trillium Hill with the sun going down behind it, we wondered what it would look like with the morning light on it’s face. We were not disappointed.

Happy flowers with the morning sun warming them.

At first I thought I’d just take a general shot from the road. After all, I had all those images from the day before. And who, really, needs more than a few dozen pictures of white flowers?

The cowslips (or marsh marigolds) liked the morning light too.

Well. I just couldn’t resist, because the light was different in the morning, and everything looked fresh and happy.

It was hard to stop taking pictures.

We probably stayed way too long there, but after all, we’re both retired. What better way to spend a morning than among acres of flowers?

Another little pretty, hiding among all that white.

Eventually we left the magic hillside to see what else was out there. Turns out there was a lot. But first we stopped at a winery to pick up a few bottles and enjoy the view.

I loved the layers, from the dandelions to the grape vines to the two colors of orchards and the tall trees behind.

Then we wandered, on conservatory trails, through woods just waking up to spring.

How could you resist following this trail?

Spring was enjoying a resurgence, but sometimes you had to look carefully.

Such wonderful colors and texture.

We spent a lot of time in the woods. But we also drove on a lot of roads, looking for pretty stuff. It wasn’t hard to find things to stop for.

Roads meander through such beauty that I can’t believe people don’t drive off the road just looking at everything.

But mostly we kept our eyes open while we traipsed through the woods. We saw bleeding heart…

…and more Jack in the pulpit…

…and lots of regular stuff just bursting open in joy.

Spring has sprung.

It was my last full day in the north, in the morning I’d be heading home, sad to be leaving but so very glad I’d been able to see spring in my favorite part of the state.

Usually my visit here is all about the lake. Or the stars. But this time it was more about the land. And what glorious land it is! I saw lots of good stuff on my drive home too, but it’s hard to top cherry blossoms and trillium.

They sure made me smile.

Sweetness in the light.


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Trillum, cherry blossoms and a barn or two

There’s no better place to spend a weekend then in Michigan’s little finger, and I was lucky enough to spend last weekend there at the home of a friend. This trip had a specific purpose, to see Trillium Hill and cherry orchards in bloom.

What’s that over there? Could it be a barn??

But first I had a several hour drive up and across the middle of the lower peninsualia of Michigan. Right through farm country.

Three for the price of one.

Plus I was lucky enough to have some pretty interesting skies which kept taking me off the freeway and on to back roads looking for that perfect combination of barn and sky. I kept promising myself that I’d get back on the road and stop stopping. But it was hard.

This was my favorite barn on the trip north.

When I eventually made it to Traverse City, still half an hour from my destination, the storm front I’d had so much fun photographing had gone through, the temperatures had dropped into the mid 30s, (-1.11F), and the wind had picked up. On the 7th of May sleet was hitting my windshield.

Traverse Bay didn’t look very inviting.

Things didn’t look promising for a photoshoot of flowers or orchards! But by late afternoon the sun was beginning to peek through clouds and temperatures, though not balmy, at least weren’t freezing. Still, we put on our winter coats, hats and gloves as we headed out to Trillium Hill.

Waves and waves of trillum lit by a sinking sun.

The hill is covered in acres of white blossoms and the lowering sun softened the light, making them glow.

Trillums, the state flower in Michigan, as far as you could see.

It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. And though you’d think there were only so many pictures to take of trilliums, you’d be wrong. There were infinite ways to try to capture the moment, and I tried to get them all.

A closer look.

I didn’t want to miss the cowslips along a small creek at the base of the hill…

A bit of gold among all that white.

…or the jack in the pulpit that gleamed in the evening light.

I loved the light shining through the leaves.

And of course, the stars of the show, the hundreds and hundreds, the thousands of trillum as far as the eye could see. There was simply no way to encompass the entirity, it was almost hard for me to believe it was real, and I was standing in the middle of it all.

Sheer magic.

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the hill and went looking for cherry orchards in bloom. Luckily there were still some puffy white clouds just begging to be used as a backdrop.

Rows of beautiful trees covered hillsides, shining against a bright blue sky.

Not everything was in bloom yet, but the trees that were, were stunning.

It felt like spring had finally arrived.

It was a treat to drive the backroads looking for something special. And look what we found.

A barn AND cherry trees! Jackpot!

So the very first day of my weekend up north we managed to find both our objectives, trilliums and cherry trees. What was left to do the next day?

Even the roads are beautiful.

Guess you’ll have to wait and see.

We liked the shadows on this barn. The end of a good day.


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Orange smile

I know you saw my orioles already. But it’s early in the season and I’m sure you don’t mind seeing a better image of the youngster that’s hanging around. He’s not fully grown up yet, I figure he’s one of the babies from last season.

I’m young, but I’m still the most handsome dude around.

I’m glad he’s made it home, because he, and the rest of them, make me smile.

More exciting news, my hummingbird couple arrived at our feeder today. I’m sure I’ll have images to share soon. They’ll make you smile too, guaranteed.


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They have arrived!

I’ve been watching beautiful images on Facebook birding groups of Baltimore orioles arriving from locations all over Michigan. Even my own Facebook memories show orioles at my feeder the first of May last year, and here it is the third and I haven’t seen a glimpse of that brilliant orange in my backyard.

I began to worry that the new house built this past winter on the lot behind us had contaminated our yard in the orioles eyes. It’s certainly changed how I see our back yard.

And then this afternoon, as I walked into the living room I saw that flash of orange and I smiled. He was only there for a moment, my movement into the room scared him away.

You’re that crazy photo-taking lady, aren’t you!

But later in the afternoon as I was sitting in my big chair by the window my husband told me there was an oriole on the shephards hook. As I turned my head the big orange bird flew away.

Still…I had hope.

Tonight as I sat in a chair on the far side of the room, facing the window but too far away to be noticed by a skittish bird, I was thinking about going to the store to pick up some oranges. Though I had grape jelly in the feeder, something large had stolen the oranges last night that I’d put out yesterday.

And suddenly, even as I was encouraging myself to go get the car keys a burst of orange arrived on the feeder. I grabbed my conveniently placed camera, complete with long lens, and began to shoot. And while I was still looking through the viewfinder there were suddenly two.

Hey, what do you think is up there?

They were both very wary and I was glad I was a long way from them. They kept scanning the yard in between sipping grape jelly. They didn’t stay long, but this time I have proof.

It’s hard to enjoy dinner when you have to be on guard.

And then, just after they left, a youngster showed up. He surprised me so much that I didn’t get him in focus. But I’m excite to know that three different orioles visited tonight.

My dad told me this was a good joint for dinner.

I’m looking forward to seeing the females soon.


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Birthday walk

My husband got me a new camera lens for my birthday in April, but we’ve been so busy with our Katie-girl and truck safety stuff that I haven’t had a chance to take it out for a test walk.

Yesterday, even though the weather people said there woud be a 10% chance of rain in the morning, my neighbor and I headed to my favorite park where the herons are nesting in their rookery and little birds are always excited to see us.

One of my favorite places.

Early in the morning the sky was filled with puffy white clouds turning pink as the sun came up. I had high hopes. But shortly the rolling grey clouds moved in from the north, and it began to sprinkle. Still, she was game, and I really wanted to see whether there were baby herons, so we decided to go anyway. We both dressed for a 10% chance of rain.

Along the way, on the 40 minute drive, it began to pour. At worst case, we said, we’d drive by the heron rookery and check it out through the windshield. With the wipers on if need be.

With the new lens I can get this close to a heron’s nest!

But as we pulled into the nature center parking lot the sun began to peep out, making the landscape glow just a little.

Everybody was trying to dry out.

Still, it was windy. And when the sun dropped back behind the clouds it was cold. Cold and windy made the little birds very insistent on our attention and we lingered on the boardwalk that edges the water where the herons live for quite awhile feeding the red winged blackbirds and a drenched, bedraggled woodpecker.

No, I’m not a woodpecker, the lady with the long lens didn’t get a picture of him.

There was no action at the heron condo complex. I actually wondered if they had already hatched their little families and moved on. But there was one heron standing atop a nest, and it’s still early in the season, so mostly I was just confused.

One lone heron stands guard. Turns out that there were other herons there too, sitting low in their nests, out of the wind.

We decided to try walking around the lake, I was hoping to get into the woods and out of the wind. It was really cold. Almost immediately we came upon a Canadian goose couple, one of which stepped into the path and began to hiss at us. Uh oh. I told my neighbor not to get too close, you don’t want to mess with an angry goose. Then I noticed the babies behind them.

Out of focus angry parents, protecting little tennis balls of fluff .

We gave them lots of room as we moved past them, then we watched the babies, from a place far enough away that the parents weren’t threatened. That’s where having a long lens is really helpful.

Hey lady! My siblings are busy messing around in the mud, but I’ll pose for you. Stardom looks good on me!

We didn’t get much further when the wind really picked up and we realized that walking all the way around the lake was going to be pretty miserable. So we turned around and headed back toward the car.

A second family, swimming among the lilly pads, with about a dozen little ones.

The parking lot greeter cranes were delighted we were back so soon. Their business had been a bit slow that morning, what with the weather and all. They were more than happy to get their parking permit payment in the form of a yummy snack.

Hey! Don’t forget to pay your parking fee!

We left damp, chilled and happy. I had the chance to try out the new lens , she got to feed a few birds and one hungry crane couple. We vowed we’d be back soon to monitor those illusive herons.

But we’d pay better attention to the weather report next time.

Sure lady, you go get back in your warm car. We’ll wait here in the wind for someone else to come along and feed us.