Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Birthday walk

My husband got me a new camera lens for my birthday in April, but we’ve been so busy with our Katie-girl and truck safety stuff that I haven’t had a chance to take it out for a test walk.

Yesterday, even though the weather people said there woud be a 10% chance of rain in the morning, my neighbor and I headed to my favorite park where the herons are nesting in their rookery and little birds are always excited to see us.

One of my favorite places.

Early in the morning the sky was filled with puffy white clouds turning pink as the sun came up. I had high hopes. But shortly the rolling grey clouds moved in from the north, and it began to sprinkle. Still, she was game, and I really wanted to see whether there were baby herons, so we decided to go anyway. We both dressed for a 10% chance of rain.

Along the way, on the 40 minute drive, it began to pour. At worst case, we said, we’d drive by the heron rookery and check it out through the windshield. With the wipers on if need be.

With the new lens I can get this close to a heron’s nest!

But as we pulled into the nature center parking lot the sun began to peep out, making the landscape glow just a little.

Everybody was trying to dry out.

Still, it was windy. And when the sun dropped back behind the clouds it was cold. Cold and windy made the little birds very insistent on our attention and we lingered on the boardwalk that edges the water where the herons live for quite awhile feeding the red winged blackbirds and a drenched, bedraggled woodpecker.

No, I’m not a woodpecker, the lady with the long lens didn’t get a picture of him.

There was no action at the heron condo complex. I actually wondered if they had already hatched their little families and moved on. But there was one heron standing atop a nest, and it’s still early in the season, so mostly I was just confused.

One lone heron stands guard. Turns out that there were other herons there too, sitting low in their nests, out of the wind.

We decided to try walking around the lake, I was hoping to get into the woods and out of the wind. It was really cold. Almost immediately we came upon a Canadian goose couple, one of which stepped into the path and began to hiss at us. Uh oh. I told my neighbor not to get too close, you don’t want to mess with an angry goose. Then I noticed the babies behind them.

Out of focus angry parents, protecting little tennis balls of fluff .

We gave them lots of room as we moved past them, then we watched the babies, from a place far enough away that the parents weren’t threatened. That’s where having a long lens is really helpful.

Hey lady! My siblings are busy messing around in the mud, but I’ll pose for you. Stardom looks good on me!

We didn’t get much further when the wind really picked up and we realized that walking all the way around the lake was going to be pretty miserable. So we turned around and headed back toward the car.

A second family, swimming among the lilly pads, with about a dozen little ones.

The parking lot greeter cranes were delighted we were back so soon. Their business had been a bit slow that morning, what with the weather and all. They were more than happy to get their parking permit payment in the form of a yummy snack.

Hey! Don’t forget to pay your parking fee!

We left damp, chilled and happy. I had the chance to try out the new lens , she got to feed a few birds and one hungry crane couple. We vowed we’d be back soon to monitor those illusive herons.

But we’d pay better attention to the weather report next time.

Sure lady, you go get back in your warm car. We’ll wait here in the wind for someone else to come along and feed us.


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When all you can do is take a walk

I was lucky enough to get my first covid vaccine yesterday. Health workers at the clinic were congratulating people as they were being injected. The air crackled with optimisim. I felt optimistic too.

Hey everybody, what’s that up there?

But this morning, with a very sore arm and unable to sleep I began to scroll through Facebook. I got tangled up in reading about Georgia’s new voting rules, put into effect by it’s governor yesterday. Feelings of optimisim began to fade.

I know I’m beautiful.

This isn’t going to be a political post, suffice it to say I don’t see how these new rules can be viewed as anything but voter supression. But I know there are others out there with different opinions.

Anyway. I got so depressed scrolling that I finally just up and left the house. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, but I ended up where I usually go when I’m needing some alone outside time.

I really want to come get a treat, but I’m too cool to sit on your hand.

We had torrential rains this morning, but the rain was letting up as I got to Kensington. Because the weather had been so bad there were very few other people there. The wind was brisk, the air heavy with the last of the rain.

It was cold.

I kind of felt like I shouldn’t head out on a hike around the lake. After all, what would I see? But I dug out my hat and gloves and, putting my head down, headed out anyway. Going home didn’t seem a good option.

The titmouse grabs a treat while Mr. ‘too cool to sit on your hand’ watches.

And I’m glad I went for that walk. Pictures here are straight from the camera today, none are edited. They aren’t anything you haven’t seen from me before, but they are a few of my favorites, and the reason I began to smile even in the rain, even with my sore arm.

Well hi there!

Even if the country still seems terribly divided, even if covid is spiking in my state again.

And by the time I left the park four hours later the sun was breaking through the clouds and the sky was blue. I even put my gloves back in my pocket.

Cutest little titmouse ever!

Kensington succeeded at raising my spirits, as it always does. I hope each of you has a place like this to go when you have a bad day. And if you don’t, I hope these images help just a little.

I’m happy to share them with you.

Turns out it was a beautiful day!


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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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Into the woods we go

So. Let me see, where was I? Ah yes, casually racewalking into the woods. I had left the more traveled path behind, along with with the pesky turkeys. If only real life could be that easy.

I couldn’t ask for a prettier day.

It was quiet back there, and the sun was shining down on me walking silently on a cushy bed of fallen oak leaves. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Oak leaf caught in sunlight.

I notied a lot of green shining in the morning light, even though all the summer’s leaves had long since dropped.

Nature’s art was everywhere.

I wanted to get a good shot of some moss. It was hard to get it in focus and I’m not sure I succeeded, but if you just think of it as abstract art you’ll be fine.

I enjoyed the delicate green enjoying the sun.

I finally got myself back on my feet and headed down the path again when a slight movement caught my eye off to the right.

She’d been watching me while I was busy with the moss.

She wasn’t very far off the trail, just enjoying the sunlight and chewing her cud and she wasn’t disturbed by my being near at all. I whispered that she shouldn’t get up, she telepathed back she hadn’t planned on it, and I quietly moved along.

Enlarge this image. How many faces do you see? I never saw the others until I looked at this on a big screen.

Her eyes followed me, and then she turned her head away. At the time I thought she was pulling a Katie – – not wanting to look at the camera unless there was something in it for her. I even said “You little stinker” as I took the shot above. Turns out that she had just noticed something else and had written me off as nonthreatening.

I was working to get this closeup of some fungi when I heard footsteps approaching. Thinking it was the deer, I glanced over my shoulder.

Fungi art.

It wasn’t the deer, just another woman walking through the woods. I asked her if she had seen the doe, and she looked confused, then said no, she was too busy with her own thoughts. I smiled and she walked on by. I’m pretty sure the doe saw her, and that was what made her turn her attention away from me.

Another photographer, going the opposite direction. I’m sure HE saw the deer just around that next corner.

I didn’t see many people on those back trails. When we did meet we generally just nodded or said a quiet “good morning.” It was sort of like being in church.

I got to an intersection. I had another choice to make. I could go straight and be back at the car in 15 or 20 minutes. Or I could turn left and make another large loop up and down some hills and through a meadow and a wetland. I almost headed back, I was certain that was what I was going to do. My neck and back were getting tired from carrying the camera with the long lens. I was hungry. I had pictures of large birds and a doe.

Light shining through yesterday’s leaf.

My work was done for the day.

But I stood and studied the map considering. And then I turned left. Almost instantly I hear the familiar sound of wings near my head. Interesting. I never have birds begging on these back trails. There are very few people and the birds aren’t as trained.

Seriously hungry here lady, toss me something good!

But lucky for them I happened to have quite a bit of seed left in my pocket, seed those pesky turkeys didn’t get. A few little birds came down for a treat. The woodpecker stayed around begging but waited till I left him something on the ground to grab lunch.

The path led past one of my favorite benches, though I’ve never sat there. I just think it’s in a pretty spot.

A nice place to sit in the winter, in the summer you’d be a meal for the mosquiteos!

Then the trail burst out of the woods into the sunshine of a grassy meadow. I thought this made a lovely shot.

The beautiful day in all it’s forms shone everywhere.

And as I made my way to the meadow I found a couple of birdwatchers looking for something special. I hope they found it!

“What’s that over there?”

They obviously weren’t looking for this little guy, as he was right behind them. He came down for a bit of a snack after they moved on.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!

The trail took me back toward the road, and when I got out there I noticed a tree I had seen on my drive in. It was covered with ornaments and I’d thought I’d stop there on my drive out after my walk. But it wasn’t that far away, maybe about a quarter mile. And I was right there.

I decided to change to the short lens and walk over there. After all, who knew what the light would be like by the time I was driving past it later? So there in the woods I switched lenses and then I walked out of the woods and down along the road toward the tree.

I don’t know what the significance is of this tree, there’s no sign. But it was pretty.

As I got closer I realize not all the sparkles were baubles. The trees were filled with bluebirds! And me with the short lens on the camera. I stopped right there on the side of the road and switched back to the long lens. Still, the birds were flitting back and forth, up and down from the tree to the ground. I’d catch a flash of brillant blue, but couldn’t get the bird in focus.

He has an acorn cap in his beak.

Finally one dropped down to the ground and stayed there long enough for me to capture him. He was adorable! Then he took off with that acorn cap and I reflexively shot.

He still has the acorn cap in his bill.

I got some of him in focus accidently. But I was thrilled just to see them all there on a mid-December day.

After the bluebirds left I concentrated a bit on the tree itself.

Pretty in the sunlight.

There was another tree across the street decorated all in fishing lures an bobbers. I have no idea why, but it also was pretty.

A fishing theme far away from the lake.

After the bluebird interlude I put the short lens back on the camera and headed back into the woods to finish my trek back to the car. As I got closer to the nature center the little birds began swarming my head. They were quite insistant. So of course I had to take the obligitory picture of a bird in the hand.

“HEY! That was the biggest peanut and it was MINE!”

Or, in this case, two birds in the hand.

The big hawks were gone when I walked past their trees. I wondered which photographers were patient enough to wait for them to lift off in flight. That would have made a cool photo too. But I was happy with my menagerie of images. Plus I’d gotten over 3 miles of walking in.

Liftoff!

Choices, choices. Every choice has some kind of consequence, good or bad. I think I made the right choices on Friday when I visited my favorite park.

Don’t you?

Follow youe heart, you never know what you’ll find.


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Now for the good images

When last I left you I was being overrun by hungry birds. A few of them might even have been angry birds, but I don’t like to judge.

The new camera did a fabulous job, notice the detail in the feathers!

As I moved further into the woods I noticed I was being followed by lots of little birds. So I stopped again to see who was hungry. Naturally the titmice dropped down immediately.

We have lift-off!

And the chickadees, who were very noisy about waiting for their treats.

“I’m so excited I dropped my peanut!”

But most intriguing was a female red bellied woodpecker who was watching me while keeping some space between the feeding frenzy and her perch high in a tree. Yet…the longer I fed the little ones the closer she got. She’d move to a different tree and then feign indifference as she checked out her new position for any stray bugs. Then she’d move closer.

I decided to ignore her, turned my back and kept feeding the busy little birds. And suddenly …

I wasn’t sure I could trust you, lady, but I’m really hungry.

She watched me for a bit, both of us seemingly holding our breath. Then she picked out her breakfast treat.

You can make this and any image larger by clicking on it. Check out how beautiful her eyes are.

She went up to a nearby tree to eat her peanut, but she was right back for more.

“This peanut looks good.”

Each time she visited my hand she flew off with her prize to enjoy just feet away.

Displaying her red belly and her amazing wingspan.

She came down a total of three times, and I felt like we were becoming best friends. She chased all the little birds away each time she arrived. After her third trip I tossed some seed on the ground for her or anyone else and I moved along.

The little birds were grateful. The blue jays were jubilant, they’d been screaming about being left out for several minutes.

“Than goodness she’s gone! I thought I’d never get anything else to eat!”

I kept playing with the settings on my camera, intent on catching the wing of the birds as they landed and took off again. Each time I fidled with the camera birds became impatient.

“Hey lady, you know little woodpeckers are pretty cool too!”

The blue jays followed me for quite awhile, picking up the leftovers.

They’re pretty, but man they can be noisy!

And a male red bellied woodpecker followed me too. He wanted to come down for a treat. He’d get close, but couldn’t quite make himself do it. My shoulders ached from holding one hand out with seed, and the other hand holding the heavy camera ready just in case

Little stinker would wait until I moved along, then come in for the leftovers.

I guess he figured I wouldn’t leave him out, and I didn’t. I always left him a couple peanuts on the trail.

Least you think I wasn’t paying attention to things other than birds, I assure you there were plenty of pretty things without wings.

I don’t know what these seeds were from, but I thought they were pretty cool.

It’s just that every time I concentrated on something else, every time I rested my tired shoulder and lowered my seed filled hand, someone would fly around my head in protest.

Double incoming!

The day had started out cold and very windy, but as I wandered in the woods the sun broke through, and I warmed up. Trapising up and down hills while being pursued by birds warmed me up too.

A little chickadee ready for takeoff.

I thought about sitting on a bench for awhile, just take it all in.

Morning light on one of my favorite benches.

But there were more and more people wandering in the woods, and I had plenty of pictures to share. Plus, I’d been there a couple hours longer than the original few minutes I had planned on.

Sunshine makes everything art.

So I headed back toward the car…past the crane parking lot greeters who were now wandering down the path. They were much less interested in me than they had been when I arrived, when they almost mugged me for something to eat.

A crain and her shadow.

The sun was out now, the sky a brilliant blue. Part of me wanted to stay, but my shoulders and back ached. And since I had forgotten to eat breakfast before I left home, I was starving too.

It was turning into a beautiful day!

I didn’t think the birds were going to give me anything to eat, so it was time to go. I had a wonderful time even if it wasn’t anything at all like what I had come to find.

That’s the cool thing about this park. No matter what you plan, no matter what actually happens, it’s always going to be beautiful.

Love the heart on her head.


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Two looks, one princess

Katie here. Mama said I could hijack her blog again, even though you’ve heard from me a lot lately, cause since she and daddy got sick she hasn’t had a whole lot to talk about.

Hey everybody! This is one of my parks!

Me? I’m a sheltie. I always have something to talk about.

So anyway, mama scheduled an appointment for me to go to the groomer. It’s been a gazillion months (2) since I was there, and she said she was tired of trimming my foot furs.

I have so much fun when we walk here!

But she didn’t tell me that right away. Instead she took me to one of my parks, one where I can walk and run around without being on a leash so much, cause no one ever goes there. Plus it’s the right size walk for me, a trail between two picnic areas, it winds through a beautiful woods.

Mama says she never gets tired of watching me run through the leaves.

Mama says it’s just beautiful, no matter what season, but I say it’s the most beautiful in the fall when the trees compliment my coloring.

I picked out this spot myself, just ran up on this little ridge and sat down. Mama said it was a good choice.

Don’t you agree?

Mama says she figures if she’s going to pay a lot of money to get me all nice and clean and white, well, we should probably go muck around in the woods the day before my bath.

Did you say BATH?

You’d think I’d figure this out by now, it’s mama’s normal mode of operation. Take me somewhere really messy and fun, and then drop me off for a bath. Yep. I should have known that was her plan

But instead I just spent a couple hours having the best time running through the leaves.

I picked these two red maple leaves just for you mama!

And since mama remembered to bring treats I was pretty patient when she asked me to sit in all those leaves. She said she needed photos for our 2021 calendar. Did I ever tell you I’m a calendar girl? Yep. Mama makes a calendar for her and daddy and my Aunt Beth every year from the Katie-girl photos the year before.

Coming in for a treat, mama!

I think she’s silly. After all these photos look just like the ones she took of me last year. But mama says she can look at each photo and remember where we were and what the woods smelled like and whether she was cold or hot or got rained on.

I look good in red, too, don’t you think?

She says every photo makes her smile, and I can understand that. These little adventures make me smile pretty big too.

Then after the park we drove back through a little town that always has a giant pumpkin on display.

What’s over there?

And every year mama asks me to sit next to it for a photo. It’s hard for me because it’s right downtown and people are walking by and worse, cars and trucks are going by too! Every year the people on the sidewalk stop and watch my photo shoot. They know a celebrity when they see one!

Posing pretty for all my admirers.

The next day after my park/pumpkin adventure I found myself at the groomer. Not fair. But mama has found a groomer that takes me right in at the appointment time and I get done in an hour and then I’m safe back in my princess chariot.

This is how I looked when I got home. Mama says she thinks I look like a boy. But most people think I look cute, so mama just needs to get over it.

I’m not sure about this, but I’m glad to be home.

Then this morning mama said might be our last sunny day for awhile, so she took me up the street for a mini photo shoot in a neighbor’s yard.

The morning light was sure pretty today!

She says she guesses my fur cut turned out OK, cause I look pretty spectacular today.

I have to say I agree. Otherwise I wouldn’t allow her to show you photos of me. A princess only shows the good stuff, you know what I mean?

Yea, I got a treat for this one too.

Of course you know.

Signing off, your princess-girl Katie.

Off to have mama polish my tiara.

Always something.

I’m a happy girl.