Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Multiple objectives on a walk in the park

Katie gets me up early every day and today I should thank her because I used her motivation to head down to Kensington, my favorite park, which is about 40 minutes south of where Katie and I live.

The woods was full of light and dark images. Should this be the “one” for the weekly photo challenge? No…I don’t think it’s quite right.

You’ve been on walks with me there before – would you like to come along on this one? Are you sure? It’s going to get a bit long, but there are benches strategically placed along the way in case you’d like to stop for a bit.

This is a pretty bench, should I convert it to black & white for Cee’s challenge? No, I don’t think this is the perfect bench shot yet.

Speaking of benches, that was one of my photo objectives because benches is the subject of Cee’s Black & White photo challenge this week. And Nancy’s Photo a Week Challenge is all about light and dark.

Plus I needed something for Trent’s weekly smile challenge.

Surely that drop of early morning mist will make you smile.

So I headed into the woods hoping I could find beautiful things that would satisfy those three challenges. Because when you go into the woods you just never know what you’ll find…but you know you’ll always find something.

This is light and dark, but so much like my Wordless Wednesday post, maybe it’s not ‘the one.’

Truth be told I headed to the most remote trails first thing this morning hoping that I’d see some deer and maybe even some fawns. I got to the park at 7:30 and almost wished I’d arrived earlier, though it was hard to keep an eye out for deer when the path was so full of roots and rocks just waiting to trip me up in the dark, damp woods. I sure didn’t want to fall, so I was being extra careful.

Lots of places for a person like me to trip.

But I did catch this doe. (6/6 edit: Let’s thank Linda for noticing that this ‘doe’ has the beginning of antlers! You can enlarge photos by clicking on them, and apparently she did! This is a he, so I’m changing all the shes and hers to hes and his) He seemed to be alone and I wondered if he had a baby or two somewhere nearby. I only got one opportunity to get his picture, then he dashed away. I liked how the light made his ears pink. I looked hard for a fawn hidden somewhere near but I didn’t see one.

Get your shot lady, I’m not sticking around!

Eventually the soft forest trail turned into a sort of mowed pasture path. The grass was long and wet. I stopped and tucked my pants into my socks and sprayed my ankles with deet. I’d never been on this part of the trail and I was curious what might be ahead.

Turns out the path went right by this small pond with it’s accompanying….bench.

A good place to rest if you have bug spray.

Yes, I thought to myself, now this is the perfect bench for Cee’s Black & White challenge. I stayed there for a bit, trying different angles, but eventually the mosquitoes made me move along. Mosquitoes are like that.

After a couple of miles the trail headed back and reconnected with the more popular paths. I figured I wouldn’t see any more deer. But I was wrong.

She was busy watching another woman who was coming toward me on the path.

A woman talking on her phone was coming toward me and she captured the doe’s attention.

I edged closer.

I cropped this so you could see her eyelashes. She looks surprised but she didn’t mind me at all.

She let me take as many photos as I wanted as long as I didn’t move fast. In fact it seemed like she was posing.

Did you get my good side?

She was definitely a nursing mom, but I didn’t see a fawn hidden anywhere nearby, and she didn’t seem nervous, so maybe it was napping further away.

Continuing on I heard a rustling in a pile of last year’s oak leaves. I expected another chipmunk or squirrel, there had been dozens of them rushing around the forest floor.

Mr. (or Mrs.) Snake went slithering off in search of breakfast.

Still looking for a perfect light and dark image, I noticed these ferns. Very pretty. Definitely light and dark there.

I liked the deep color and the repeated pattern, but it’s not ‘the’ image.

But maybe it’s not exactly right for the challenge.

Moving along, still on the lookout I noticed this perfect dandelion sitting in a puddle of sun.

The light made the seeds glow against the dark background. Still…it’s not quite what I wanted.

But I’ve done a post about dandelions. And I was hoping to find something new.

Definitely light and dark. Hmmmm…maybe it’s the one.

Meanwhile I was pretty much smiling the entire walk, but these guys, grooming themselves and oblivious to me made me grin.

You’d think we could get some privacy here.

And the light off this opening blossom made me smile too.

Pretty in yellow.

But what would be the perfect light and dark image for Nancy’s photo challenge? There were so many to chose from.

In the end I loved this one. One of the first images I took at the beginning of my walk when the sun was barely up…the dew lining the edges of the leaves.

This one met two objectives – light and dark and it made me smile.

After I got out of the woods I wandered over to the boardwalk that lines the lake where a giant heron rookery lives. The baby herons are now teenagers and huge! Mom and dad herons are very busy trying to feed their demanding children. There is a whole lot of activity, and even though I had already met my objectives I couldn’t help but stop for awhile and watch the goings on.

But this is already long enough. If you want to see the craziness that was visible from the boardwalk you’ll have to wait for the next post. In fact I’m thinking about going back tomorrow morning, getting there earlier and spending more time watching the rookery and the lake that surrounds it.

Wait. What? You say you want to see the herons now? Well here’s a taste.

Incoming parent, hungry teens wait for lunch!

But there will be more. I promise. You never know what I’ll come back with!

Very cool tree art.


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Influenced

Walking Katie-girl on this warm, almost muggy, Saturday morning I noticed a perfectly formed, fluffy, dandelion seed thingy.

Lots of people don’t like these guys.

I instantly thought of fellow blogger Mike who has taken many wonderful shots of dandelion fluff, and I knew I needed to go home and get the camera.

Katie disagreed.

But after some back and forth and compromise on both our parts, I convinced her to turn around. Once I deposited her back in the house I trotted, with my camera, back down the street. I figured, being it was early, I could get a few shots before the neighbors got going and no one would wonder what I was doing in their ditch.

Kind of cool in black and white.

It sort of worked out, but by the time I was done their garage door was open and they were peering out at me. Once they noticed the camera they just nodded and wandered back inside. I think they’ve seen me out and about before.

But I bet they went out to the ditch later to see what in the world I’d be so interested in.

Yep, the lowly dandelion puff ball is beautiful when you stop and look.


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Spring’s light always makes me smile

It’s that time of year when even the air seems green. Winter has finally given up and spring has enveloped us in it’s welcome warmth.

I know this isn’t in focus but I loved it so much I couldn’t delete it.

I’ve been watching things pop up in the gardens — I swear if I stood there I’d be able to see them growing!

Do you see anything weird in these hosta leaves?

How about now? Do you see what I thought was a frog? 🙂

And the light! The light in early mornings and late evenings is golden.

Evening light makes the last of the daffodils glow.

I can’t help but grab the camera and run outside when I notice that special light. It’s only there for brief moments and then it’s just a memory.

Morning light on apple blossoms.

Lots of mornings I have Katie-girl to thank for getting me out there early enough to see the first golden light.

I’d have missed this morning flight if it hadn’t been for Katie.

Yep, the light in May is definitely a reason to smile around here. What made you smile this week?

Morning light as seen from the tent. Double reasons to smile!


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In the woods on a rainy afternoon

Katie here.

Yea, I know. I was just here a few days ago. But really, wouldn’t you rather hear from me than watch television news? Of course you would.

What’s over that way, mama?

So I was guarding the house er, napping this afternoon and mama said I looked old. My head was up but my eyes kept closing and then my head would droop and then I’d wake up and try to keep watch again. Just resting my eyes, you know.

Why do I always have to wait for you, mama?

Anyway, mama asked me if I wanted to go to a park. She said she was going a bit squirreley herself, being in the house so much. Huh. I didn’t know mama could be a squirrel — maybe I better watch her more carefully.

Are you really a squirrel, mama?

The next thing I know I’m in the car and we’re driving to a park! Mama told me we had camping reservations for next week at this park but the reservations got cancelled cause of the virus.

Mama is sad about that and said we could at least walk in the woods near the campground. She said it would be beautiful even though it was sort of raining on us.

Mama thought these raindrops were pretty. I think they were just wet.

Mama was right.

The trees are beginning to leaf out and they are that pretty early spring green. No one else was there. There weren’t even any mosquitoes!

She spent way too much time on this silly acorn.

Mama spent a lot of time taking pictures of little things she thought were pretty. I don’t get it. There’s nothing out there more pretty than me!

Seriously mother? It’s a leaf. Who cares about a leaf?

Sometimes when she took too much time on things not me I’d huff at her. She told me I was being annoying. Do I look like I’m annoying her?

Well, yea. Sometimes I can be a little bit annoying.

Well. Maybe just a little.

And another thing. She told me I looked old. Do I look like I’m old to you?

I don’t like to be left behind. Plus she has treats.

I didn’t think so. Of course this was the only time I ran like this, and I didn’t do it when she asked me to, I did it just because it was fun. Mama was lucky to get the shot. I got a treat for that one!

Anyway, we had a lot of fun walking in the woods. We didn’t walk real far, because it was over 60 degrees (15.55C) and kind of humid. That makes it sort of uncomfortable for me. Frankly I’d like it if it snowed every day, but I guess that’s not what most people want.

Mama found some yellow flowers for me to sit next to. I think she’s taking this yellow flower project too seriously.

After we got done with the walk in the woods mama said we should check out the boat launch because the sky was getting kind of interesting.

I didn’t mind making another stop at all, even if we were approaching my supper time and normally I’d want to be home so as not to miss it. I’d had quite a few treats on our walk so I was good for a little more adventure.

Even with all these clouds it wasn’t raining on me.

It was beautiful out there at the lake! Some people were fishing but we maintained our social distancing just fine.

I posed for mama whenever she asked and when it started to rain and she wanted to go back to the car I didn’t want to go! Mama says I am stubborn, I say I just know what I want.

Two guys and a boat made a nice picture.

And a princess, always, should get what she wants. So we walked for awhile longer in the nice cool rain. It was wonderful.

Pretty colors and a bit of rain.

I’m a happy princess now. I haven’t had an adventure like that in a long time. Mama says it’s to make up for not being able to go camping next week.

I told her she better get the tent put up in the yard, one walk wasn’t going to make it up to me.

If you agree, please let her know. The more people telling her I deserve a couple nights in the tent the better!

Thank you,
Your girl Katie.

Glad you could come along with me on my walk!


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Just one more smile

It’s raining today, a steady rain, soaking into our dry, dusty soil. That’s a good thing and made me smile this morning because I’ve been pulling weeds for days (that’s how I know our soil is dusty) and husband has been hauling mulch around the yard for days too. Rain makes me smile because I don’t have to feel guilty not going out and doing more.

So I’m mostly sitting inside watching traffic go by and working on a set of four or five little paintings that will be headed to Norway.

But before I start those I did this one.

Isn’t it adorable?

I was weeding yesterday and pulled up an acorn that had sprouted a little oak tree. I thought it was so beautiful, so intricate yet so simple, that I brought it inside and put it in a glass of water so I could study it again. This morning I drew it and then colored it in — I smile every time I look at it.

And then I looked up from smiling at the little oak tree and saw this:

I think it’s the female orchard oriole, though I haven’t seen her before. She was very focused on what’s left of the oranges. Notice her proprietary foot on the fruit.

I took several pictures of her, at at one point the camera was collecting itself after a series of shots and when the shutter opened up again she was gone and in her place was this one:

This is the female baltimore oriole. She too was very focused on the fruit even though I put jelly in the feeder earlier in the day. Notice she’s standing on what’s left of an orange quarter.

And I made a note to self: Females eating in the pouring rain obviously know what’s better for them. They both focused on the bits of fresh fruit and ignored the sugar. Can’t say the same of the males who have spent all day eating jelly. Just saying.

OK. That’s four smiles for today. So far.

These make me smile too.


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Still mailing those smiles

It seems like I just wrote about the little water color paintings I’ve been doing and sending off each day. But when I look back I see it’s been a month, and in a month there’s been about 30 more little paintings.

Do you want to see some of them? I’ll be honest, I like looking at them, and sometimes it’s hard to mail them away.

But I hear back from most people that receive them, and so far the notes and paintings seem to be doing the job they were sent to do. They are making people smile.

Not every painting has been a success. There have been several failures, though sometimes I look at one of those and think maybe I can salvage it.

I think that especially on Sunday nights when I don’t have anything to mail on Monday. So far I haven’t missed a day and I don’t want to break my streak.

I’ve started doing something specific for people’s birthdays. I’ve even sent a few sympathy cards made from one of my paintings.

I have a few more ideas, but the momentum is slowing down. I planned on continuing this until life gets back to normal, but the reality is that normal is an unknown thing now and may always be.

In fact we may lose our entire summer to this stay at home order here in Michigan. Certainly there will be restrictions for the foreseeable future.

So maybe I’ll continue painting these. If you haven’t received one, please don’t be sad. It’s probably because I don’t have a mailing address for you. You’re welcome to send me an address and I’ll see what I can come up with!


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Can’t help but smile

May is my favorite month here in Michigan. The grass greens up, the spring flowers bloom, the trees begin to leaf out in that pretty spring lime green, the weather isn’t hot, or dry, or cold, and it doesn’t (usually) snow.

You may need to open this on a bigger screen to see the love birds in the redbud tree.

There’s so much potential. The gardens are still in the planning stages, stuff hasn’t died or rotten on the vine yet. The deer haven’t eaten all the greens, the ground hog hasn’t eaten the green beans and there are big, juicy tomatoes on the vines in our anticipatory imaginations.

And my summer birds come back to the feeder.

This week the orioles came in for the summer. I put my feeder up after reading that others in my area had seen them. Four hours later the first male baltimore oriole tentatively checked it out.

Is that grape jelly down there?

I was thrilled and couldn’t stop smiling.

Hope you got my good side, lady!

They are such beautiful birds, it’s hard to miss those colors as they fly through the yard. And it’s hard to miss their anxious call too, that loud crackling sound they make when they’re unhappy about something. I always know when they’re in the trees above me as I’m filling the feeders.

This year I have another visitor to the oriole feeder too. I’ve never seen an orchard oriole before, in fact I never heard of them until a couple years ago when a friend in New York state mentioned having them.

Orchard orioles are a darker, rusty orange.

He is very skittish and I’ve only been able to grab pictures once – I was already standing still in the house taking pictures when he arrived. If he’s at the feeder and I move to pick up my camera he flies off. So, for now I’m sitting still when they arrive and just enjoying them.

I was out in the yard yesterday afternoon and saw the baltimore oriole, the orchard oriole and a goldfinch sharing the feeder. I think they were taunting me because I didn’t have my camera. It sure was beautiful to watch though.

But this morning, the early morning sky was lighting up just the tips of the trees and I was outside trying to capture the magic…

The sun lit, just for a moment, the very tips of the trees across the street.


…when up over my head, high up in the birch tree I heard that now familiar call.

Hey lady! Go back inside, you’re making me nervous and I want my breakfast!

Good morning Mr. Oriole! Welcome to my yard and the grape jelly in your newly filled feeder! Have a good day!

Geeze, I thought she’d NEVER go inside! I was starving up there in that tree!

I know he will. Little stinker.

What’s that over there?


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Breakfast – the most important meal of the day

After a few days of nothing but clouds and rain it was a relief to see the sun rising this morning. Apparently the birds in my backyard were happy too, as the feeder was as busy as Grand Central Station during the morning commute.

Not a great picture, but it makes the point that there was much coming and going this morning!

Everybody was flying in to grab a seed, though most of them were chased out by the next wave of incoming.

He would have stayed longer but at least he got some ‘to-go.’

The little birds, the chickadee, titmouse and nuthatch were mostly rousted out by bigger birds.

Scored one seed, will be back for more when it’s quieter.

Meanwhile, on the deck, someone else is getting a drink.

Always something good to drink here.

And another was just watching all the goings-on.

It’s way too busy for me on that feeder!

I was standing in the breakfast room, trying to get shots around all the distractions, lots of feeders, the dog in her pen, the railings were all things the camera wanted to focus on rather than the birds themselves.

But, regardless of my shortcomings, the birds kept on giving me fun images, even if most of them were never going to be stored on my memory card.

Incoming!

The comings and going were constant.

Next!

Just when one bird got comfortable and was enjoying breakfast another, usually larger and often noisier, swooped in and took over.

The biggest of all was this guy.

A large male grackle arrives late to the meal but manages to get a seat at the table.

He made quite a show, puffing up when he saw anyone else attempt to move in on him…

Don’t even try it!

…and giving the evil eye if the puffing up didn’t work.

The ‘look’ usually worked.

Still, a foolish little goldfinch wasn’t paying attention.

La, la, la…happy little goldfinch coming in for brunch.

He made a couple of circles, surveying the situation.

Maybe if I circle behind him I can squeeze in.

He wasn’t about to give up.

Maybe from this angle…

But in the end the poor guy had to concede that he was no match for the huge and boisterous crackle. After all, there are other feeders out there.

Never mind. I wasn’t that hungry anyway.

So in the end, for that moment anyway, the bully grackle won.

And I’ll eat my fill before I leave too.

But the little birds are very patient and once the big guys left, they happily settled down to the leftovers.

Looks like it’s all clear. Let’s eat!


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What’s there to smile about?

I think we’re in week 5 of our stay-at-home executive order. Maybe it’s week 6. All the days run together into an endless week highlighted by a trip to the grocery store dolled up in mask and gloves. The order was set to expire at the end of April, but Friday the governor extended it until May 15th. I think that will make it 8 weeks total.

Isn’t this a beautiful barn?

But as she extended it she also loosened it a bit, allowing golf and boating, and letting people go to their up north cabins. Still no nonessential retail stores, though curbside delivery is OK, no sit down restaurants, no movie theaters, no dog groomers, no hair salons. But we can move around more as long as we continue to practice safe distancing.

This one is beautiful too, and there were a bunch of horses in the pasture next to it, but it was on a busy road and I took this through the windshield, no time to compose something better.

So I felt legit driving around in the country, by myself, looking for my favorite things – barns. Getting out and looking for interesting things to photograph isn’t exactly essential to most people. But it’s starting to feel that way to me.

All business on the front, derelict in the back.

I didn’t go far, just barely north and west, far enough to get out of town and into flat farmland, but not so far that I felt like I was taking advantage of any leniency in our guidelines. And not so far that I’d have to fill up at a gas station.

This one was cute.

The sky wasn’t very interesting, there was a storm headed our way and I had hoped for more, but at least it wasn’t raining. And since it was our first day of “freedom” the roads were busier than I’d hoped.

Old wagon compliments old barn.

It’s hard to get pictures of barns if there’s traffic. Finding a great barn that also has parking is nearly impossible. If I’m on empty dirt country roads I can just stop in the middle of the road and grab a shot. Not so easy to do on a paved busy road.

Almost interchangeable with the last one.

Still I got several interesting barns to add to my collection. And yea, I caught you smiling while you looked at these. Barns are almost guaranteed to produce smiles, unless you’re the one that has to muck out the stalls.

So I’ve been told.

I turned around to get this one, loved the patina on it.