Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Walktober 2021

As usual I had grand plans for Walktober. A place a couple of hours away was calling my name, but also as usual life got in the way and I can’t find a day when I can spend four hours to travel plus a couple hours of exploration.

So that adventure will have to wait for another time.

Pretty quiet at the heron rookery.

Meanwhile, it’s not that I haven’t had mini adventures right around here. Katie and I have wandered in plenty of parks this month. Any one of them would be a wonderful Walktober. But she already got to do her Walktober, and I wanted one of my own.

“Hey mama! I should be included in EVERY adventure!”

So I’ll share an adventure I recently had with a college friend I haven’t seen in many, many years. Since she retired from her career she’s become interested in birds; she’s joined birding groups online and is learning all kinds of cool things.

It was quiet enough to take a nap.

She’s seen my posts about the birds out at Kensington, and has never had a bird land on her hand before. She, like so many of you, wanted to experience that for herself. So we met out there on Wednesday.

So many choices.

I get such a kick, every time I take someone new out there, watching their face the first time a little bird lands on their hand. Every single person grins with such a quiet but intense joy.

Double the joy.

The little birds weigh next to nothing, they rest so lightly on the fingertips, you’re not sure they stopped there at all. It’s magic.

Grab and go.

So, we wandered the trails in the woods, stopping every time we heard the little ones chripping overhead, offering them special treats of peanuts and suet balls and black oilers.

I spent some time with the birds too.

Some of the birds were quite decisive, others took their time to select the perfect morsel.

“I think this seed will do.”

It was a wonderful walk in the woods, on a beautiful, perfect day. We even saw a bird new to both of us, a juvinile red headed woodpecker! We didn’t get a close look, but we saw him (or her?) flit through the trees several times.

Did you know a juvinile red headed woodpecker has a brown head? Me either.

What an extraordinary bird, so beautiful when it flies, with slashes of bright white across the back of it’s wings.

So even though I didn’t get to travel to the far-off park this time, I promise I’ll share it with you when I do. Maybe it will be in November. Maybe it will be in 2022.

The regulars were still in residence, even this late in the season.

It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Thanks, Robin, for hosting this Walktober for all of us. It was wonderful to get out into the world and enjoy everything that October has to share.

“But next time make sure I get some treats too!”


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Little smiles

Changing gears from the previous two posts…

…how about we just look at the frolicing going on in my backyard.


I know you’ve all seen my birds and others before.

But these are brand new images Promise.

I should try to learn how to do a slideshow in this new blockhead format.

But I don’t have time or patience.

So you only get a few.

But they made you smile, didn’t they.


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Almost silent Sunday morning

Katie and I are sitting on the deck. I’m indulging her, letting her nap in a puddle of sun before the day gets so hot neither of us can sit out here.

I think the sun makes her old joints feel better.

I’ve filled the bird feeders and now listen intently as the sound of wings begins to overshadow the sound of a far away lawn mower.

The birds are used to us sitting out here, and they take the calculated risk of coming in for a bit of seed, even though it’s only a few feet from the dog and me.

My two nuthatches are the first to arrive. I hear their soft whining before I find them high up in the trees. Each ventures, headfirst, down a trunk, scurrying in a race to reach the seed first.

Under the deck a chipmunk causes a ruckus running into the roof gutter drain. I guess he’s not as brave as the little birds.

The chickadees have shown up, a whole flock of them this year. As youngsters they were shy, but now they’re old hands at stealing a seed and whirring up into the tree to eat it. There are so many I can’t keep track.

A cardinal has risked landing on the flat feeder, several feet away. If we sit still he will sit there and eat until something bothers him. He has the flat feeder all to himself for the moment, just the way he likes it.

The titmouse is late this morning. Usually she’s the first to come in when they hear the seed can being opened. She flies so fast, through the limbs of the honeysuckle to grab her share.

And there’s a little downy woodpecker, hanging upside down on the tube feeder. I haven’t seen him in awhile, it’s nice to see him here this morning.

Katie gets anxious, wanting a treat for herself, but I can’t leave yet — the hairy woodpecker has arrived. And now the hummingbirds, the male and female ruby throated, are chasing each other among the pink leaves of the beach tree.

But she’s barking now. A princess isn’t required to be patient.

So we go in and let the birds have their breakfast buffet in peace.


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Midsummer morning

I feel as if summer is sliding away from me, days turning into minutes, weeks into moments. Yet it’s only the beginning of August, there’s plenty of summer left, especially for a retiree. Right? Being retired is enough to make me smile, but my walk on a midsummer’s morning made me absolutely grin.

The dreaded first sighting of goldenrod.

I was out at my favorite park this past Thursday, while it was still July, while I could still consider it mid-summer, and yet I felt fall encroaching.

Beautiful, but I’m not ready for leaves turning yet.

I went with my biggest lens, the better to see birds in their natural space versus standing on my outstretched palm.

But of course I did have a few birds in my hand. Can’t not do that.

But what I found instead was a whole forest filled with youngsters. And I don’t mean the busses of preschoolers that arrived as I was leaving. Thank goodness.

I don’t know what this is, but it was pretty.

I have so much to show you from my walk in the woods, I don’t know if I should break it up into two posts, or if you’ll have the patience to read one long post.

Joe Pye is beginning to bloom.

I don’t even know if I have the patience to write one long post.

The grasses are maturing.

You can always scroll through and just look at the pictures. I have a feeling the words will be minimal anyway.

Wild grapes are beginning to pink.

I got to the nature center early in the morning, but on the drive through the park I noticed my favorite willow tree island had a beautiful swan. So after I parked I walked back along the bikepath to capture her as she preened.

Was she using the water as her mirror?

Notice the grey pile of fluff off to the right? That is her baby, or maybe more than one, I couldn’t really tell. Her partner is swimming behind the island, couldn’t see him well either.

Her little one (or more) are well hidden in the shade.

But she (I’ve decided it’s a she, I really don’t know) sure was taking her time getting beautiful that morning.

Looking stunning that morning.

Then I walked back to the parking lot at the nature center to get the rest of my gear, and found this exhausted and hungry mama, right beside the bike rack.

Eating at the parking lot salad bar.

With my long lens I was able to get quite close without interrupting her breakfast.

And beside her, on the other side of the bike rack, were the normal crane parking lot greeters, getting spruced up for their shift of collecting the lot fee from everyone arriving to enjoy the trails.

Hurry up Henry, we’re going to be late for work!

Lucky for me I got there before they clocked in.

So I headed into the woods…

The bridge to the woods.

…and met this guy right away. He already had breakfast so I didn’t offer him anything more.

You’re not going INTO THE WOODS, are you?!

It was right about then that I noticed a sense of fall seeping into air. I shook it off and ventured further into the dark cool green, and interrupted two moms and their little ones having some breakfast of their own.

Family brunch interrupted.

I stood there a long time watching them watching me.

Mama and her mini-me.

This little one was intensly curious about me.

Should I run or should I stay?

And then I heard a titmouse, just over my right shoulder, angrly asking why I wasn’t providing a snack. So I handed off a peanut and moved on.

Hey Lady! Fork over the peanut! I know you have one!!

I only saw one other person my entire walk in the woods, and that was another photographer.

I see something right over there…

As soon as he got down from the bench and moved on this mama came out of the brush.

Is he gone yet?

I took a different trail and moved deeper into the woods. The long lens wasn’t really the right choice with so little light. But I didn’t want to stop to change it because you just never know what you’ll see.

Oops, thought it was another deer!

Or how far away it might be.

Way over there on that ridge is another exhausted mama, chewing her cud and watching me.

But the mosquitos were beginning to follow me. I pictured myself running out of the woods with a swarm of bugs trailing me, sort of like a Bernstein Bear cartoon. I moved faster.

After clambering over a downed tree that crossed the trail I was shooting an image of a tree damaged in the recent storms where the fresh wood had a similar color to deer, confusing me for a moment…

Kind of the same color as the deer roaming these woods.

…when out of the corner of my eye I saw more of that reddish brown.

Another mama and her baby hoping to have an undisturbed meal.

These two didn’t seem to realize I was there. Until mama did.

Lady, you need to move along now.

The baby didn’t seem too bothered by me at all, but I went on down the trail so they could enjoy mama/baby time alone. Plus I was beginning to get hungry myself, it had been a long time since my own breakfast, and I was still deep in the woods with a long walk back.

See you later, lady!

I tried not to stop anymore as I booked it out of the deep woods. Except when I saw something interesting. Or fun. Or both.

This says late summer to me for sure.

But mostly I was trying to get back into the open where the breeze would keep the bugs from swarming around my head. Yes, I had applied bug spray before I left the car, but not on my hands, because I knew I’d be feeding birds. I guess that made me fair game for the mosquitos.

Bet you didn’t know crocodiles lived in the woods!

Back out in the open I had a nuthatch and a chickadee makeing big noises about getting a treat, but they wouldn’t come down to my hand. I finally figured out that maybe they were this year’s young, and not quite confident about the whole process of coming in for a snack.

Tell me how this works again, lady?

But eventually they both came down, after doing a fly over or two to check me out.

This peanut is almost as big as me!

The sky was getting dark and I figured it would soon rain, so I headed back to the car. Climbing the stairs to the parking lot I could hear people, cars and busses.

Change of shift for the swallows.

I was glad I’d gotten my walk in the woods finished before the masses arrived. Time to head back home to the princess who would just be getting up from her morning nap.

Earlier in the morning there were deer and cranes. Now bikes rest while their people explore.

It was a good midsummer day all around.


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Back yard shenanigans

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve captured quite a lot of goings on in my backyard.

My husband gets all the attention, but I’m more beautiful if you take the time to look.

These are the kinds of things I never got to watch when I was going to work every day.

I should take some of this back to the missus.

The kinds of things I always imagined were going on and wished I could wittness for myself.

This place has the best drinks.

So I’m feeling quite lucky that I’m around to enjoy the fun stuff happening right outside my windows.

I swear this kid eats like a horse.

I hope you feel lucky to see it all too.

It can stop raining any time now.

In fact, I don’t have more words to fill the spaces, so I’ll just pile on the images.

Pink brings out my feminine side.

I’m sure you won’t mind.

Do you think this peanut is too big for my mouth?

Enjoy.

I’m just a kid, can someone tell me where the best diners are?
No tree is going to outshine my colors!
My preferred food does not appear to be in the feeder lady!
You’re going to fix that – – right?
Well if I’m going to be ignored I’ll just turn my back on you… you’re watching, right?
A mother’s work is never done.
Doing my pilates.
I’m ready for my post-workout massage now.

I hope you are grinning now. I do every day, there’s always something going on out there.


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Weekly smile

I have so many things to smile about this week, so many that there’s not enough time to sort through them all.

“A guy can’t get any privacy around here.”

As you have likely guessed I was camping way over by Lake Michigan again. Lots of pictures to sort through. Not enough time.

“If I stay still, she’ll take that blasted camera out of here.”

So this week I’ll stick to things around the house that have made me smile. You will note I don’t show you the garden as the grass and weeds infiltrating it do not make me smile.

“Hurry, children! They’re watching us from both sides!”

But my little friends sure did!

“I don’t think you’re doing that right down there!”