Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Surprise!

I was standing in my breakfast room, taking a picture of this red bellied woodpecker….

A modern art image, showing off his red belly.

….when this guy showed up. He’s a male evening grosbeak.

The yellow eyebrows helped me identify our visitor.

According to my Michigan bird book they aren’t supposed to be around here. They live in the northern lower peninsula and the UP of Michigan. But last winter at one of our local bird seed shops there was talk that people around here had seen them.

Such a striking bird, he was hungry and happy that there was seed on the railing.

I’ve only seen one, last winter, just one, and just one visit. But today our initial visitor came back later in the day along with some of his friends!

He brought a friend to the buffet!

First I saw two of them on the railing. And then I realized there were three, then four males, on the railing, in the trees…

A evening grosbeak party at the feeder!

…and on the feeder. Plus one of the birds on the feeder was a female! (over on the left above)

Num, num, num…

It was so cool. I’m thrilled that I got to see them, and even more thrilled that I got some shots.

I’ve been smiling all day.


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Veterans Day

I live in a place I might not easily fit into if I were to freely expressive my political leanings. So mostly I don’t.

Some election cycles I am more obvious in my support, but this year we were redistricted, and we lost the Congressional Representative for whom we had actively campaigned. She moved on to the newly formed District 7 that encompassed most of her previous district, but doesn’t include us.

I feel sad that we need to start over educating a new Representative. I don’t have huge hopes that she will listen to our issues, but I recognize that I’m making an assumption, and that makes me just like everyone else who jumps to political conclusions without research or data.

So, in the New Year, I will make an appointment to meet with her staff and introduce myself and the Truck Safety Coalition. I’m pretty sure she has not heard of us; I’ll do my best to give a good first impression.

But what bothers me the most during this Veterans Day weekend is that though our veterans fought to keep us free to speak about ideas important to us, it no longer feels safe to talk about issues at all. They didn’t fight so that only Republicans or only Democrats could express their views, yet where I live, and where many of us live, it feels unsafe to be different.

We used to be able to discuss our differences without being called unpatriotic. Without being accused of not supporting the Constitution. I’m certain most people in this country support the Constitution, regardless of political affiliation. I don’t think being patriotic is a trait found only in one party or the other.

I bet there are households on both sides of the aisle who proudly flew our flag in my neighborhood this week, who love our country unconditionally. Who have served to keep it free.

And I’m pretty sure there are both Democrats and Republicans and even some Independents buried in our National Cemeteries. They sacrificed so we could all speak.

It’s about time we all learned how to listen too.


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You’ve seen it all before

I had a chance visit my favorite park this week, a late afternoon decision.

You’ve seen images like this before. I’ve taken hundreds of images just like these.

But of course I took the camera.

And of course there were birds — that was the point, is almost always the point when I walk these trails.

And luckily the birds were hungry.

Very, very hungry.

And of course we had a very good time. Because, really, how could we not?

I think the birds had a good time too.

For the most part anyway.

So I’m hoping you don’t mind seeing images like this again. Because I never tire of taking them.


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A little bit of everything

Here in Michigan you can expect a little bit of everything with October’s weather. Kind of like an everything bagel.

I know I say it every year, but this year the autumn colors were spectacular. Truly amazing.

And we had lots of sun.

And some snow.

Then more sun.

And a bit of snow. And rain.

It was warmer than normal.

And then really cold.

But the days when the sun shown and the wind died down were truly delightful.

I don’t think we can expect November to be nearly as entertaining.

Gosh, that everything bagel sounds pretty good right about now. Toasted. With cream cheese please.


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Walktober 2022, Chippewa Nature Center, Midland Michigan

Decades ago my grandma told me that time speeds up the older you get. Being the superior teenager that I was, I chalked the comment up to her being confused in her old age. (Which coincidentally was just about the age I am now.)

I stopped, early in the morning, on my way to Chippewa Nature Center, at Overlook Park just in case there were eagles. No eagles, but several bucks were having breakfast near the retention ponds at Dow.

Grandma, it turns out, was right.

And, as Robin says, here we are in October again. Another year is almost in the books and time is sliding by sideways while we aren’t paying any attention.

It was still quite early when I arrived, so I spent some time exploring a little pioneer farm display while I waited for the sun to come up.

Which I guess is why we need a Walktober, when you stop (which is the point) and think about it. Walktober is all about getting outside and noticing stuff.

A face only a mother could love.

Little stuff and big stuff, pretty stuff and interesting stuff. Stuff that makes you smile and stuff that stops you in your tracks and stuff that you’d never notice because you never slowed down enough to see.

The sun finally came up, trying to break through the clouds.

This year the coming of fall has been difficult for me. So I decided to do my Walktober in a place Katie and I had never visited together.

The morning light reflected in the schoolhouse window as I headed to the woods.

I have no memories of her at the Chippewa Nature Center, so there were no ghosts waiting to surprise me at every corner. She would have loved it there, trails through the woods always made her happy. But…no dogs allowed on the nature trails, so I carried her along with me in my heart instead.

Lots of color and shapes to focus on.

Even though Katie had never been here, I visited once, last February. During that trip the weather wasn’t cooperating and I couldn’t find the trailhead, and what I could find was covered in ice. I left after taking only one picture, and you all know that’s just about impossible for me to do.

This visit there was no ice on the trail, just a carpet of beautiful fallen leaves.

So I decided to try again, as a Walktober adventure and this time I definitely got more than one image, though once again the weather wasn’t cooperating.

A bit of fungus, a colorful leaf, against the backdrop of a decaying stump. Art in nature.

There was a mixture of bits of sun, lots of clouds, and, of course torrential rain combined with strong winds. Yep, a good day to wander in the woods.

A carpet worthy of attention.

I was specifically looking for warblers, those little birds that flit around, hiding behind leaves and high up in trees. They’re hard to catch a glimpse of, much less get an actual image. I might have seen one. Or two maybe, but the images were impossible.

Not a great image. And I don’t know what bird this is, with the little yellow dot near the eye.

Not enough light deep in the woods…not fast enough to bring the camera up when I saw something, not sure what I was even looking at.

Don’t know what this is either.

But it was fun trying.

Meanwhile the maple trees are stunning, and the trail, wandering beside the Chippewa River and through the woods was wide and easy walking. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Changed the lens to the wide angle for this beautiful spot.

And I can tell you one thing. The birds and animals knew I was in the woods way before I realized they were close.

Pay attention, lady, I’m standing right here!

I tried to take my own advice, learned from many other walks in the woods, to stand still and just wait quietly. I never see anything when I’m walking, even when I’m trying to be quiet.

We’ll let you get this one shot, and then we’re out of here!

I did see lots of birds when I stood quietly under the tall trees. The longer I stood there, the more emboldened the birds became, whizzing right by my head on a few occasions.

Good thing the leaves stood still for me.

I smiled, recognizing that I wasn’t going to get a great image, and relaxed, just enjoying their antics.

The little birds were flying circles around me.

At one point the sun poked out from the clouds and across a ravine I saw a field of red grass glowing. I know how fleeting light can be and there was no way for me to get over there in time, so I continued on with my meandering.

I love it when the sky is dark but some trees are still in the sun’s glow.

That turned out to be a fine decision because I ran into the most beautiful yellow tree while the sun was still shining, the trunk and limbs perfectly black against the gold.

The sun was just on the other side of this tree. For a moment anyway.

Eventually I found a track over to the field of red grasses and was focused on a beautiful tree along the trail when the sky went dark. And then I thought I heard rain coming from far away. But it was coming fast.

Such a pretty spot. Makes you want to linger and enjoy it….unless……is that rain I hear coming my way?

Torrential rain hit as I popped out into the field and assessed how far away the car was, realizing it was too late and too far to sprint. I was going to get wet.

Even the turkeys were heading for cover.

And I did. But that was OK too, the colors just intensified and I smiled as I wiped my glasses and increased my pace through the field.

I need to get way over there.

By the time I got to the car, mopped up a bit and decided to head home, the sun came back out. Of course it did.

I could go explore more trails…but I was soaked all the way through.

And on the way home the clouds were so good I just had to pull off the freeway and grab a shot or two or twelve. There might have been barns involved, but that would be content for another post.

Who could resist this scene?

Thank you Robin, for hosting Walktober again this year. I look forward to it every year, thinking about new places to explore, deciding when to schedule the walk, hoping for great color or at least some interesting new images.

Good advice on a stone at the exit.

I feel kind of sad that it’s finished, but then I remember….I get to go along with all of you on your Walktobers, and I can’t wait to see where you’re taking us this year!

My artsy-fartsy image from my Walktober at Chippewa Nature Center, October 13th, 2022.


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Goodbye little buddy

Several days last week I noticed a little house finch hanging around the feeders. We have a lot of birds that hang around, but this little guy sat on the feeders, leisurely pecking at the seed, seemingly unconcerned about the comings and going of other birds.

He wasn’t concerned about me coming and going either. He never moved, though he kept an eye on me, as I was filling feeders, until I reached for the one he was occupying. Then he’d fly up to the roof, or over to another feeder to wait. I walked right by him several times, within inches, and he didn’t move. He actually flew up to land on a feeder I was carrying one afternoon.

I knew he wasn’t well, his beak didn’t seem to work right, bits of oiler hull stuck to it. His eyes seemed faded.

I looked for him every morning to see if he had survived the night. Two mornings ago he watched me fill the feeders, walking by him in the process. He wasn’t moving at all, wasn’t eating. I avoided the feeder he was resting on, so as not to make him move.

A few hours later he was dead on the deck railing. I buried him under the ninebark bush, at the base of a lily plant, with a few bright red maple leaves to mark his place.

Bye-bye little guy. I hope you enjoyed your time here with us, you sure did make me smile.


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Is it time for Walktober already?

Longtime readers might remember that every October many of us bloggers deliberately take a walk, then post a few (or a lot) of images and descriptions. Robin, over at Breezes at Dawn, hosts the Walktober, compiling everyone’s posts into one at the end of the month.

This year the official dates for Walktober are October 8th through October 24th. But if you need a little bit more time just let Robin know and she’ll try to accommodate you.

Let’s go on a walk!

It’s so much fun to take you all along on a walk. And it’s fun to read everyone else’s post, to explore a part of the country, or the world, that we might never get to visit any other way.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been on two walks, complete with friends and their dogs and I’ve considered whether I should use those walks as my official Walktober.

Deuce and Ace patiently posing.

After all, I was walking, and it was October, and better yet, there were dogs!

But ultimately, though these were both really fun walks, I decided to take you with me to a place I’d never been before. And today I explored a new park.

Jasper enjoys a spot of sunlight.

But today’s images aren’t ready for the public yet, and I knew you wouldn’t want to miss pictures of dogs…so I’m sharing those here.

Maybe you’ve done a Walktober in previous years, or maybe you haven’t but think it would be fun. Either way, I encourage you to take some time out of your day and get outside.

Robin’s rules are easy. Take a walk or ride a bike, jog or go for a drive, just get outside, grab an image or two and then post about your experience. Link your post to this post of hers and she’ll be sure to add you to her list of people enjoying the beautiful October outdoors.

A dignified Jasper pauses for a pose.

And if you’re worried that you don’t have any country trails to share, maybe no autumnal color, well, one year I took everyone to downtown Detroit for my Walktober submission, and had a wonderful time showing you that a city is a great place to walk too.

There are plenty of beautiful days left in October!

Look around you, there’s bound to be something, perhaps your own yard, that you’d like to show us.

Let’s spend October sharing our wonderful worlds with each other. I can’t wait to see something of your part of the world!