Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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This week’s noisy smile

It’s been a crazy winter, right? Some parts of our country have seen snow where no snow is expected. Other parts are flooding, or fighting wildfires. I think we’ll all be glad to say goodbye to this winter, and for me, the first true sign that spring is right around the corner is the sound of the red-winged blackbird.

Hmmmmm…this peanut looks good.

It’s a distinctive cry that I haven’t heard around my house yet this year. Other people, not so far away from me, are hearing them already and have for awhile. My Facebook memories say that it was on this date when I heard them first last year.

I’ll just fluff myself up and let out my best territory protection scream. I’m sure the girls will be flocking to me in no time.

Today it’s too windy to hear much of anything here, but yesterday was a beautiful morning and I headed out to Kensington where I almost always find something beautiful or exciting or just fun.

I’ve picked out the perfect patch of cattails to build our home. Now I just need to find the perfect sweetie.

I found all of that in the massive flocks of red-winged blackbirds all screeching for a mate, while flocking to food, hanging on to swaying cattails, or flying up into trees to sing even louder. Their combined sound was almost overwhelming.

I can’t find the ladies anywhere! And trust me, I’ve looked!

But it sure made me smile!

I guess I’ll just keep singing.


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Don’t miss this waterfall!

On my drive north from Alabama last week I took a quick (or not so quick) detour 50 miles east of my route home to see Burgess Falls. Husband and I had been to see it several years ago in the middle of a summer when there was significantly less water flowing than this time of year.

A little waterfall on the hike back to the big one.

It rained hard the evening and night before I drove over to the falls, and it has been raining for months in the Southeast. There was a squishy walk of about a mile back to the falls. I didn’t mind, there were plenty of pretty things to see along the way. Plus I knew I had hours of driving ahead of me. A little walk would be just the thing.

Everything was damp and green and muddy.

The river was roaring, over it’s banks and moving fast. Just like all the other rivers I’d crossed the day before and would cross on my trek north.

My first clue that the waterfall would be ferocious.

I remembered, as I walked, our last visit to this park where we had trekked down a steep metal staircase, and then climbed over boulders to sit at the base of the falls. I was pretty sure that wouldn’t be possible, judging from the volume of water rushing down the river.

And I was right. See those boulders and trees down there in the river? That’s an island and we sat on those rocks and watched people swimming in the pool below the waterfall.

So much water. And the noise!

You wouldn’t want to be out there now. Still, some steps led down ‘to the falls’ so I went down to see what was what.

Wonder what’s down there?

Personally I think those stairs should be closed. It leads you right to the top of the falls where it would be so easy to slip and fall into the raging river.

Teenagers throwing sticks into the water. I couldn’t watch.

I scurried right back up, and told the family at the top who were contemplating the trip down not to do it, it wasn’t worth the climb, and it was too dangerous for their kids.

Other than that I enjoyed my brief time at the falls, and I’d go back again when some of the water dries up. I’m sure there will be plenty of repair work to do before it’s safe to go down to the bottom again.

It was worth getting a little muddy.

Regardless of the water flow this is one stunning waterfall and worth a detour to see it! And I got to see a few barns on the way over there.

Couldn’t resist stopping for this one.

And some more cows.

Cows and their barn.

So even though it added a few hours to my trip home I think it was all worth it. That’s the best part about a road trip –turning left instead of right once in awhile.

Such a pretty place, Tennessee.


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Smiling

Things are beginning to get back to normal here. At least as far as Katie is concerned.

If this is all the snow around here, it must be spring…right mama?

She and I went for a walk at her favorite park this afternoon. She hadn’t been there in more than a month.

Are you going to carry me across this big, cold puddle?

We had sunshine, but it was still chilly out. Just the way she likes it.

I guess maybe it’s not quite spring after all.

I’m pretty sure, when she wasn’t busy sniffing out the best smells, she was smiling.

I sure love my park!

So was I.

Can’t beat a walk in my park!


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Torn

I’m back in Michigan, and it’s lovely here, with sun and blue sky, a bit of white snow left on the ground. It might get to 50F this afternoon.

My last night at the lake the sky finally cooperated and provided a worthy sunset.

Still.

The fact that it was a foggy morning made it somewhat easier to leave.

In Alabama it was beginning to warm up too, daffodils were blooming, and when the sun broke through the rain clouds we enjoyed temperatures in the 70s.

For weeks, this trip, I passed this field and remembered one year when cows where there and how photogenic the spot was. But I never saw any cows there until the day I was leaving town.

My last day in Alabama I sat on the deck and enjoyed listening to the birds singing. The brown thrush were chasing each other around the yard. Blue birds were flitting everywhere. Robins sang in the morning and ducks and geese gathered in the lake.

I took tiny little two lane roads that curled through the mountains as I headed north. The better to find interesting things to photograph.

It would have been wonderful, after almost a full month of rain, to sit there for a few more days.

There were a lot of interesting places along the way.

Still.

You don’t always have to have a structure to make an image interesting. Especially with fog.

My husband and my Katie-girl were in Michigan and I’d been gone a long time. I felt somewhat guilty lounging around in the South while my husband dog-sat the demanding princess.

So many old, abandoned homesteads tucked in the hills.

Still.

I think about all the families whose dreams moved on to somewhere else.

My sister and brother are in the South and I hadn’t seen either of them in more than two years, so it was great to spend weekends with them, painting with my sister, going on a boat ride with my brother. It would have been nice to stick around and spend more time with them.

So many barns hanging on.

Still.

So many decisions to make.

My girl, who lives in the moment, had spent enough moments without her mama. She must have felt like she’d never see me again.

A high point in Alabama. Plus the sun started to break through the fog.

Still.

Lots of barns still in use.

There were more adventures to be had in the south.

I turned around to get this, because of the car.

Still.

A cozy barn nestled in the hills.

There are adventures to be had in the north too.

Solidly facing a new day.

So here I am, enjoying sunshine while wearing a coat, tickling the princess tummy, feeding my birds, watching the squirrels. And it’s good.

Some grey barns are by design, not by age.

Still….

Photos in this post are from my last evening at the lake, and my drive north.

Kinda missing this place now.


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Smiling?

I’m still driving home from my month in Alabama. I should be home tomorrow afternoon.

Walking on the Gulf of Mexico beach early in the morning.

Today I left a friend’s house in TN a bit later than I might have had I stayed in a hotel, but it was so much fun to visit that I didn’t mind. And then I took a 3 hour detour in the wrong direction so that I could see a big waterfall.

Sunset at our lake house.

Which I saw, but the pictures of which are still on my camera and I don’t have time to download them tonight, my last night on the road.

Sun making water sparkle.

I’m not even totally sure what day it is…or whether I posted a ‘smile’ post this week.

A long walk in a wildlife preserve.

So in case I did not, which is highly likely, here are a few things that made me smile this week!

Light in general.


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Evening surprise

I wasn’t going to go down to the Gulf Shores beach to watch last night’s sunset because I figured it would be the same as the night before. The day’s sky had been a similar, boring and cloudless blue after all.

But just to be sure I took the camera out to the beach balcony here on the 5th floor of my hotel. And saw this.

Where did those clouds come from?

Uh oh, I better get out there, this could be good!

Looking east with the sun at my back.

In the end the sky wasn’t spectacular, but the subtle colors were.

My favorite shot. Look at those colors!

So I enjoyed my last night on the beach, reveling in the 60 something degrees, the gently rolling waves, the moon being quietly swallowed up by clouds.

The pelicans were enjoying the evening too.

I’ve got so many photos to show you from my two days here, but nothing as crazy beautiful as that last night on the beach.

That’s a wrap on a good mini vacation.

So that’s what you get to see. If I get to the rest, you’ll see more, but I sure didn’t want you to miss that sunset!


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Mountaineering

Today, after our regularly scheduled morning rain, I decided to climb Smith Mountain. This is something we always do at least once when we’re here at the lake.

The goal on top of the mountain.

You have to climb the mountain before you can climb the fire tower. It’s a long way up.

At the beginning of the trail I encountered this sign.

Well darn. But the access road will get me to the same place.

Huh. I like going up the trail, it takes longer than the access road but it has some ups and downs. Unlike the access road which goes up. And then it turns a corner and goes up some more.

Just the beginning of the upward climb.

Along the way I stopped, ostensibly to take pictures of pretty things.

Luckily there were plenty of pretty things to stop and take pictures of. Like this orange lichen on a big rock.

But really I stopped so I could breath. Did I mention that the access road goes straight up the mountain?

As I was walking a work truck crawled slowly past me, headed for the top as well. I seriously considered jumping on his tailgate.

I thought this stone, embedded in the asphalt near the top of the mountain, looked like a sketch of a girl hiking. I might have been delirious from lack of oxygen.

Once at the top I read some of the newly placed signs, about the wildlife, the birds, flowering shrubs. Anything that would stall the hike to the top of the fire tower.

But it turned out to not be that difficult. Guess the mountain warmed me up for 111 stairs. That’s one of the numbers I stopped to read about on the way up.

This sign was about 1/3 of the way up. Lots of interesting facts. Like the gazillion gallons of water in Lake Martin!

Once at the top I spent some time just enjoying the lake. I love being up there. I especially love being up there when there aren’t a lot of tourists around.

That little spit of land, with the trees reflected is on the back side of the mountain, where I walked my first week here.

Unfortunately, on this Monday there were workers down below, complete with generator going full speed to power up their tools. They’re fixing the stairs you’d climb at the end of your trail hike if you came up the mountain via trail.

Three guys and their generator sure can make a lot of noise.

I guess that’s nice. But it sure would have been nicer to listen to the wind in the pines and the birds calling. But I’ll be back, once they’re done with their project. Meanwhile I enjoyed the lovely poofy clouds and the red-ringed lake.

The Sandy Creek Narrows (I only know that’s the name of it from the new signs on the way up the tower) out to the ‘big water.’

I love this lake, it’s so beautiful, and not completely built up like most lakes are.
Sure, it’s more crowded than it was when my folks moved here in the 80s, but it’s still has a lot of empty land filled with trees and wildlife.

I loved the stripes of green fur trees against the empty limbs of the deciduous trees. Also the two turkey buzzards flying below me.

The clouds were beautiful, and sometimes the sun would peek out.

Bits of blue sky.

As I walked back down the 111 steps and started my way back down the access road I was happy that I’d made the effort to climb the tower on a beautiful afternoon. Even if it wasn’t as peaceful as I’d have liked.

It’s always a good feeling to see the world from way up high. If you’re ever this way you should definitely climb the mountain!

Standing tall, waiting for my next visit.