Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Desperately seeking smiles

We’ve had it rough around here for a few weeks. Though the trees are bursting with color and we had a series of beautiful sunny and above average warm days, no one here was enjoying it.

Katie under the ginko tree with leaves falling in the early morning light.

That’s because husband, brother-in-law who was staying with us, and I all tested positive for Covid a little over two weeks ago.

Yep, no matter that we’d been careful, limited our travel to only necessary trips, washed our hands incessently, wore masks everywhere.

A young cardinal stops for breakfast.

We still ended up with the virus.

And worse, my brother-in-law didn’t survive. So on top of feeling tired with achey muscles and never ending coughs we had to work our way through grief and funeral arrangements.

That early morning light makes her glow.

Now that I’m feeling better, I am recognizing that there were a lot of moments, in amongst the heartache and chaos, that made me smile.

Neighbors and family leapt to help us, doing our grocery shopping, picking up Katie’s perscription from her vet, dropping off cases of water and snacks and flowers and fruit and fully cooked meals.

Red Bellied woodpecker enjoys a snack on the go.

And did I mention soup? We got lots of chicken noodle soup; it’s true that chicken noodle soup is good for the soul. We are proof of that.

Everybody gets into the breakfast act.

Even now that things are settling down we are getting numerous messages and texts, calls and emails from concerned family and friends.

The katsura tree dropped all her leaves at once too.

Covid is a scary, dangerous and unpredictable thing. But it’s possible to smile even in the midst of it if you’re as lucky as we are to have wonderful people surrounding you in love.

Are you pointing that lens at me, lady?

Images are from our backyard these past few days. Lots of smiling there too.

Even our first frost made me smile.


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2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.


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A walk through Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

I follow a wildlife group on Facebook. I’ve been seeing pictures of what were identified as Brown Pelicans that people were seeing out at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge which is only a little over an hour from me. Pelicans in Michigan?

Early morning at the refuge.

I’ve been to this refuge once before, about a year ago. I saw lots of pretty things then, but no pelicans. I’ve never heard of pelicans in Michigan and I wanted to see them.

I startled a racoon as it swims over to a log to exit the water.

But life, as it usually does, interfered. I had too many commitments, too many places I needed or wanted to be. I kept putting off my trip up to Saginaw County, but those images of these beautiful birds continued to show up on Facebook.

Huge flocks of sandhill cranes flew overhead in the early morning light.

Finally I decided to add a stop at the refuge to a scheduled trip north to my happy place along the shores of Lake Michigan. I figured since I wanted to be at the refuge at sunrise I could spend as much as four hours there and still get up to Northport at a reasonable hour.

Water on either side of the dike I was walking on.

So one day last week I let Katie get me up at 3:30, put on my waterproof shoes and lightweight hiking pants and headed out the door by 4:30, prepared for a double adventure.

I arrived at the refuge as the sun was coming up. In hindsight I should have arrived even earlier, because it’s a two mile walk back to the wide open wetlands where the pelicans were supposed to be. But I saw plenty of things on my two mile walk, even as the sun crept higher and higher into the sky.

A damp egret watched me walk by.

I crept along as well, because the trail was covered in crushed stone and my heavy, waterproof shoes were so noisy on the rock that every few steps ducks rose up from the water on either side of the dike I was walking on. The noise of their flight up out of the water is startling, even after I heard it a few dozen times.

I frighten a wood duck couple into leaving.

It was hard to get a decent image of anything in the low light, no matter how high I set my ISO. But I had fun trying.

A juvie green heron, just out of focus.

By the time I got out to the open wetlands I was already tired. Such an early start, so many missed images. But then I rounded a curve and saw these guys. They sounded an alarm as I slowly approached them.

“Should we stand our ground or get the heck out of here?”

They were between me and where I needed to be in order to check out potential pelicans. I wanted to get a good picture of them flying, so I stayed prepared with the camera held up to my eyes as I moved forward. Eventually they gave up and rose into the air with great fanfare, warning about my trespassing into their space to anyone else out there that cared. They were absolutely beautiful.

The sun on their wings was so beautiful.

I coldn’t stop shooting as they rose higher and higher.

They looked like a painting.

Once they had flown off over the woods and the sound of their calls had faded I looked around and saw what I thought were some swans preening on a log on the other side of some open water.

Those are swans over there. Right?

I couldn’t see them very well, even with my long lens because I was shooting into the morning light. I was pretty sure it was a bunch of swans, so I spent some time seeing what else was out there.

Egrets discussing the weather. Or something.

The egrets were beautiful in the morning sun. And everywhere I went something flew out of the water. It was hard to keep up.

I startled this blue heron too. He left without looking back.

Still, those swans out there called me and I took more pictures. But time was ticking, and how many images did I need of a group of swans? I was getting tired and I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen the pelians.

A female wood duck takes off. I seem to be disturbing everyone!

I turned to go, and over my left shoulder three large birds flew by. Three large white birds. Could it be? Yes! They were pelicans! My settings weren’t right for a moving bird, but I got some OK shots.

White pelicans!!!!!

Then I took some more shots of those ‘swans’ back where I had turned around. Because you know what? There were more and more gathering there. And behind them were hundreds more, out of camera range. Pelicans masquerading as swans.

They call a group of pelicans a ‘pod.’ This pod was getting bigger by the minute.

I looked them up and I think these are not Brown Pelicans, but American White Pelicans. They have big black stripes on the ends of their wings, just like the images in the article. I feel lucky to have seen them.

All those white birds flying in the background are pelicans too!

After spending a long time watching them I turned and began my long walk back to the car. By now the sun was really up and so were all the little birds. Lots of hopping around in the underbrush, chirping, flitting across the path. I only got one of the little ones in a decent shot.

A little round yellow bird. Maybe a warbler?

But I saw several others too, though the images are terrible so I won’t share. I’m just glad to have seen a juvinile rose breasted grosbeak, and a white throated sparrow, who, people say, is only around in winter. Uh oh. Winter??

What a beautiful place to be on a beautiful morning.

On the way back I concentrated on moving along, but also stopping to notice the flowers still in bloom…

Everything was yellow, green or red.

…and the beautiful fall colors just starting.

The maple trees were glowing in the early light.

Four hours later I had walked a little over six miles, my feet hurt, my back hurt but my heart was full. I still had a four hour drive to Northport, but I was headed to my happy place, and had been in a very beautiful refuge. Couldn’t complain, that’s for sure.

Morning light.

Plus….I had seen hundreds and hundreds of pelicans! And now you have too!

Definitely worth getting up early!


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Had so many smiles this week I haven’t had time to share

This week was filled with smiles, so filled in fact that I’m having trouble finding time to process all the photos to share with you. So how about I show you just a couple, a teaser of sorts, to keep your interest for a few more days.

The maple trees were turning.

I traveled north on Wednesday, stopping at the Shiawasee Nature Preserve on the way to my final destination. I took you for a walk there a year ago, this week, unlike that walk, the colors haven’t peaked but I saw lots of really neat things.

I startled ducks wherever I walked.

Including pelicans. Did you know there are pelicans in Michigan? Me neither! But there they were. I felt lucky to have seen them, I’m sure they’re just passing through.

See all those white birds back there? Pelicans. And notice the blue heron down on the left bottom? Busy place.

Anyway, the four hours I spent there early on Wednesday morning made me smile. A lot. I will share more of this magical place as soon as I can finish looking through the more than 800 photos I took.

Avoiding the noisy human.