Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The farm connection

The perfect campsite; shade but no mud!


Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.

But what was the perfect location?

Why, the farm my mom where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.

The backs of some of the barns, across a soybean field.

I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.

Morning sun makes the barns glow.

So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.

Morning light on a misty soybean field.

If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.

Sunset on the first evening.

Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.

There were more planes than meteors . There are two planes in this shot.

Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.

Clouds begin to encroach on my night.

I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.

The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.

Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.

Sunrise, spectacular in a quiet sort of way.

I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.

A pretty nice set for the story of the Jets and the Sharks.

By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.

Still, the sky seemed clear.

I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.

See that planet up there above the tent? There’s a star or two too.

Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.

Lots of roof lines.

I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.

Ingenuity.

So many memories.

No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.

A good couple of nights on the farm.

A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.

The whole experience was priceless.

An original fence post.


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A photo a week challenge: Attitude

Angry bird

WordPress stopped sending out weekly photo challenges, and though I didn’t post each time they had a suggestion, I did enjoy trying to fulfill the challenge when I could.

Nancy Merrill Photography is sending out challenges now, and when I saw this week’s I knew I had one particular image that showed a certain amount of attitude.


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On the way there and back

On my way up to the Pigeon River State Forest, three hours away from home, I drove through some of my favorite farm country. Both on the drive up and the drive home four days later I was lucky enough to witness clouds building above beautiful farm country.

I knew you’d want to see (who doesn’t want to look at barns, right?) so I put together a little slide show.

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And even though I know these pink flowers are not native, and are in fact, invasive I couldn’t help but stop and grab a few photos because they’re just so darn pretty.

Pretty but invasive.

How can this be invasive?


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When we weren’t staring at the river…

We did score the best campsite in all of the Pigeon River Forest, nestled next to the river in all it’s gurgling glory. We could have sat there all day, but there was more to explore.

There’s a large elk heard residing in this park, with certain locations where you’re more likely to see them. We drove around one evening looking, but didn’t see any; I guess the elk hadn’t read the memo about where they were supposed to be. In 2014 we were luckier and saw three of them in almost exactly the spot where the map said they’d be. Now those elk knew how to follow directions!

This year I did see this guy, on our first day there, as we were driving to our campground on a narrow sandy road through the tall trees.

What you lookin at lady?

I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and screeched to a halt. My friend, who was driving ahead of me, kept on going so she didn’t get to see him. I felt privileged to be able to snap his picture as he gazed somberly back at me.

Aside from the elk this state land is known for beautiful lakes and wonderful hiking trails. You can walk through varying topography and plant life, from wet bogs and reedy lake shores to hilly pine forests and open meadows.

Care to go for a walk?

We did all of that. We hiked around Pickerell Lake on a beautiful afternoon, the sky filled with white puffy clouds and the lake a beautiful blue.

It was a perfect day for a hike around a lake.

We climbed to the top of Inspiration Point, where the ranger said you can almost see from horizon to horizon. He was right.

Walking through the meadow on the way up the hill.

It would be a perfect place for star gazing if you’re there on a night when the full moon isn’t beating down on you.

You can see forever from here.

We walked along the river and looked up the names of all the wildflowers we could find. We were surprised by just how many there were when you stopped to really look.

I’ve already forgotten the name of this one. A variety of coneflower I think.

Mostly we just enjoyed being outside in a beautiful place during a beautiful weekend. Even when there was a bit of rain.

Walking through a misty rain.

And in the morning, when it was time to pack up and leave I felt sad, but happy too, that I got to spend time in this magical place. I know I’ll be back, likely on a dark night with no moon and clear skies. There are stars out there just begging to be photographed and I’d like to try.

The sky wasn’t dark enough with the full moon coming up behind me.

Until next time Pigeon River State Forest! It’s nice to know you’re up there waiting for us to stop by again.

Wonder what secrets the forest holds over there?


It’s good to know that the river continues to dance over those rocks, singing it’s gentle and calming song, even when we’re in the midst of whatever gets in the way of happiness out here in the real world.

Until next time, Pigeon River.

I’m lucky to have such a wilderness so close to home, and I’m pleased to share it with all of you. If you’re ever this way, stop by and explore even a little of it.

You won’t be sorry you did.

All this and more is waiting for your visit!


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Cee’s black and white photo challenge: Bench

I need to catch up as I’ve been traveling again, this time to a state forest campground in central Michigan. As soon as I saw this bench at the top of Inspiration Point in the middle of the Pigeon River Forest, I knew it would work for Cee’s challenge.

You could see for miles.


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Detouring

I drove over to Katie’s vet this morning to pick up some more flea and tick prevention medicine. She was glad she didn’t have to go with me. I did take my camera as I knew I’d be driving through the country and you just never know what you’ll see.

Almost feels like fall.

I was ambling down the road noticing that the corn here is just starting to tassel which always signals summer winding down to me. On the other hand it also signals the beginning of fresh corn season which is almost good enough to offset the heartache of summer’s demise.

And then suddenly there it was. The road ahead was closed. More road construction and me out in the middle of nowhere. No easy fixes here, I just took the last corner and headed west again when I needed to go east.

Turns out it wasn’t really such a bad deal. I got to see two barns I never would have found.

Time to start putting food away for winter.

This is what’s so fun, for me, about driving into unknown farm territory. You catch just a glimpse of a barn, sometimes a bit of red, or the tip of a roof line and if you’re lucky it turns into a great find.

Caught a glimpse of this one through the trees.

And on my way home I deliberately turned the wrong way…

What’s that way out there?

…and happened to come across a shorn wheat field full of Canadian geese and sandhill cranes.

I pulled over and stood in that field for a long time listening to them squabble over the best eating. The cranes were walking among the geese who were mostly napping. Different groups of cranes were flying at other groups.

This group of 5 was marching toward some sleeping geese.

I tiptoed away after awhile and continued home. What was just a trip to the vet to pick up some pills turned into a mini-adventure for me.

Don’t tell Katie, she’ll be mad she didn’t get to go.

Pretty big barn.


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Just a walk in the park

Felt good to be on the path again.


It’s a misty Sunday morning, cool compared to Alabama where I’ve been, and the chest pains seem to be a memory. Oh the back still aches, but it’s a more muted pain now, so it seemed a good time to take a walk.

Just to see if activity stirred things up again.

Wasn’t planning on getting off the path anyway.

With a hint of rain hovering over me I headed down the bike path at a local park. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t take Katie-girl, and she would have enjoyed the cool breeze.

Heck. She enjoys going to a park anywhere any time.

Sweet smelling milkweed

Still, I wanted to walk at a pace that wouldn’t agree with her. No time for sniffing every plant you know. But don’t tell her I stopped to take a few photos.

I guess my picture taking is similar to her plant sniffing.

So many shades of green!

Hardly anyone was out there so early on a rainy morning. I took advantage of that to jog a few steps. Very few because though walking didn’t do much to up the pain level, jogging seemed more problematic.

I guess it’s been awhile.

Yellow flowers lead up to my favorite tree.

It was only two miles, but it was a pretty two miles and I’m glad I went. My back still aches, but my chest didn’t hurt.

I’d say that’s progress.

Purple accents a good morning.


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Ever wonder what there is to do at the lake?

Yes it’s peaceful here on the lake. You might even say it’s tranquil. Nothing to do but watch the weather move overhead.

A summer storm blows through almost every afternoon.

Perhaps take a morning paddle.

Headed out to the mountains.

Maybe toward evening take the ski boat out to the big waters to see the sunset.

This particular evening there were many facets of a single setting sun.

If you go way out there you need to sit awhile and soak it all in.

The other side of the lake had less color but just as much drama.

But mostly you putter around close to the house, perhaps exploring just up the creek in the canoe.

Let’s go see what’s over there.

And sometimes, if all your siblings and their significant others show up at the same time…well…you just need to goof off.

Having fun on the lake one warm evening.

No matter what advanced age you achieve…when you’re all together you can still be kids.

One…two…three…JUMP!

And that’s what I’ve been up to this week after the 4th of July. Katie and I will be heading north soon. She says she likes the lake house and wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of the summer. But I remind her that we have camping (and weeding) to do and so she says she’s OK with going home too. As long as the northern house has an air conditioning vent for her to sleep on she’s not so particular.

Stay tuned as our adventure continues.

One of my favorite spots.