Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A summer walk

I went out to one of my parks (not Katie’s, she doesn’t get to claim all of them) yesterday to go for a walk. It’s been too long since I’ve been there.

I think the last time I did four miles out there was late spring when the skunk cabbages were coming into their own and the air was fresh and little spring flowers were blooming along the edges of the forest.

Well, the air was still just fine, but the skunk cabbage is past it’s prime and now the flowers of late summer are in full bloom.

Four miles might have been a bit ambitious on a hot August morning. But I forget I’m not so young anymore, and only months ago I walked 4 miles regularly so it didn’t occur to me to be more conservative.

Heading out was marvelous, a breeze in my face, lots to look at. I didn’t really want to turn around at mile 2, but some part of my brain decided to be an adult and demanded I make the smart decision.

I was beginning to feel the need for a restroom break, and there was a bathroom at mile 3, only one more mile down the path. If I turned around I’d have two miles until I got to a toilet, but my brain calculated (it’s a proven fact that math is hard when you’re hot and sweaty and have to go to the bathroom) that if I went a mile further I’d have to walk six miles total, and six is a number much bigger then four.

So I turned around, and was doing just fine until that last 1.25 miles. Which is uphill and mostly in the sun. With no breeze. That mile was pretty miserable.

As I got to the steepest part of the walk, only a quarter mile long, but still, part of my brain began arguing with the other part. There was a lovely bench under a big old oak tree part of the way up.

I could sit on that bench for a spell. That’s why they put it there. For folks like me who could be categorized as elderly. Yep, could sit right there under that tree. Bet there’s a breeze there.

The other half of my brain argued back. Not going to sit on that d*#% bench. Sitting on the bench would delay arrival at the bathroom. And the car with it’s bottle of water.

But it’s a nice bench, there in the shade. No one else seems to want to sit there. It’s calling your name.

Not sitting on the d#*% bench.

Luckily my feet were not listening to the argument and just kept moving.

Oh but wait…there’s a big image of a painting from the Detroit Institute of Arts right there next to that bench. They’re advertising a collection being shown. There’s a short article next to it. You could go read all about it. In the shade. With the breeze. And you don’t have to sit on the bench.

A good solution, might even say a compromise, that pleased both parts of my brain and my feet didn’t mind either.

All the images in this post are from that walk, taken with my phone camera while moving along on a hot summer morning.


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Random thoughts from the yard

Covid has made me random in many ways. Random meals put together from whatever is here rather then running to the store to pick up a missing item. Random camping trips to get away while remaining isolated. Random walks through the yard instead of parks to avoid running into other people.

The sugar water is getting a little low, lady!

That’s not all bad, you understand. Some things we’ve learned to do during this strange time would benefit us to continue once the world returns to normal. If that ever happens.

Things like eating at home together instead of catching a meal on the fly. Doing with what’s in the pantry and not wasting gas and engery rushing to the store every day. Talking to neighbors on walks through the neighborhood instead of waving at them from your car as you drive somewhere else.

Three stages of bloom.

Recognizing your home is not such a bad place to be, even while yearning for exploration and adventure.

I was weeding when I noticed a large monarch butterfly hovering around a hydranga tree filled with beautiful white blossoms. Such a pretty image I went inside and got the camera.

Pink zinnia impersonating purple coneflowers.

Of course he (or she) wasn’t anywhere to be found when I got back outside. But lots of other things were.

The images in this post were from that brief weeding interlude. I should be content in my yard, it’s a pretty amazing place.

In the wild part of the yard.

But the road has always, and continues to, call me.

I have a friend in the UP (Upper Peninsulia of Michigan for those of you not from around here) who has a group of women friends that gathers regulary to camp, along the shores of Lake Superior or the banks of a river. They kayak and sit around the fire and talk and I wish I could be there too.

Centering.

I think I need to put together a group like that down here in lower Michigan. A few other women who like to camp and would like to camp together somewhere once in awhile.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my camping solitude too, and Katie and I love to spend that time together. But sometimes it would be nice to have a group of people who would like to explore together.

The light bounces.

So who’s in? Could we manage to socially distance while camping? Dogs or no dogs, tents or RVs, who’d like to go…and where?

Pink and green coexisting.

The possibilities are endless.

New possibilities.


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Aha! I KNEW you missed me!

Katie here. Finally. Mama told me that since I was getting older and not going on any adventures lately that I was obsolete. Yep, I think that’s the word she used. Might have been redundant, it was a big word that I had to look up and I didn’t like it one bit.

This is me walking away from mama cause she asked me to sit for a picture. I’m a princess. She forgets that.

Anyway, I thought I should check mama’s blog and see what she’s been doing, cause it hasn’t been with me, that’s for sure! Looks like she’s been having fun…and with CATS! I thought I smelled cat on her when she came home last weekend, but I was napping when she arrived and really, it seemed like a lot of work to bark at her so I just went back to sleep.

No, I’m not too upset by her taking a get away without me, cause I really don’t like cats and I’m pretty sure that Ringo dude would have wiped the floor with me, so it’s just as well she left me with daddy. Daddy and I are buddies, we have lots of fun when mama is away.

Don’t tell her I said that.

Ok, mama. I’ll stand for a photo, but I’m not sitting.

No, what I’m upset about is that some of my fans, namely Miss Debbie and Miss Loisajay, asked about me and mama didn’t even tell me! They said the pictures of flowers from our garden would look better if I was included. Well of course they would! I am a princess and a princess always enhances any decor, inside or out.

So anyway, yesterday I gave mama a scare, just to get even with her ignoring me. Yep, we were on our walk around the yard after supper and mama was letting me stick my nose into whatever I wanted (frankly I think she was feeling guilty about the ignoring thing) and she was contemplating the green trees and blue sky when she thinks she saw me grab a berry off a nightshade plant. She lunged at me to pry my mouth open (which I do not allow, by the way) and she thinks she saw me swallow.

This is Davis Lake. My park overlooks it, which is why it’s called the Davis Lake Overlook park. I just call it Katie’s Park II

Yep, mama was in full on panic then. She picked me up and she raced inside and she looked up nightshade and found a site that said even two berries could kill a toddler. Oh my dog! She called my dad who wasn’t home, and then she called the vet to get the emergency number and then she called the emergency vet office where she was put on hold.

Mama is not very patient.

Finally they told her someone would call her back. Mama paced. I, however was very calm and took a nap beside the sofa. The vet tech called her in about ten minutes and told her they didn’t have a protocol for knowing how much of any certain plant could damage any sized dog and she should call animal poison control. Then the vet tech went on with a lengthy spiel about why they couldn’t help mama, and mama cut them right off and asked for the phone number. Did I mention mama is not very patient?

This is me smiling because I’m having fun.

She called poison control which had a long prerecorded message about what the vet would ask about and then said it would cost $75 on a credit card before a vet would speak to her. Mama hung up and started researching how to make me throw up.

Then daddy arrived home and they gave me something that tasted terrible and almost instantly I threw up most of my supper and there wasn’t any berry. Mama and daddy decided they’d just watch me for a little bit before they spent $75 to talk to a vet when maybe mama didn’t really see me eat that berry.

I told them they could watch me all they wanted, but I was going to go sleep on my new princess bed that daddy got me and if they could please be quiet while they watched me I’d appreciate it.

I walked right up to the camera cause I wanted a treat. Mama said that was OK and rubbed my ears.

And I also mentioned that I’d probably be really hungry about 4 a.m. and maybe they should consider being nice to me and feeding me breakfast early. Because they owed me.

So this morning I was just fine, even at 4 a.m. when mama got up with me and let me have a little something to eat. And later in the morning she took me to one of my parks for a short walk, cause, as I may have mentioned, she owes me.

I let her take one artsy-fartsy picture.

And that’s all the excitement around here. I didn’t eat the stinking berry, I never do stuff like that, and mama should have known better. But mama says better safe than sorry sweetie. I don’t know what that means, but I do know a princess does not like to throw up in front of her subjects.

Mama says I’m getting grey hair. I told her she should worry about her own hair and leave mine alone.

So let’s not do that again any time soon, OK mama?

Home, mama! (but thanks for the walk too)

Glad we got that straightened out.

Your girl, Katie.

That short little walk was just perfect for a princess like me!


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Exploring a new park


While I was on the guided tour of one of Katie’s parks a couple weeks ago, another participant told me about a park the next township over that she found beautiful.

I had never heard of it, but it sounded intriguing.

So last Monday I got up early and headed over there. It’s a short ten minute drive and I arrived just as the sun was coming up behind me.

It lit up the trees across the small lake near the parking lot and I spent a long time just sitting on the end of the fishing dock listening to the birds and frogs as they greeted a new day.

Then I started across a boardwalk that connected the parking lot to the hills and woods surrounding the lake. Dew was beading on the grasses there, shining in the early light and I spent a long time trying to get a focused shot.

It was a lovely warm morning but as I moved into the woods I realized I should have worn bug spray. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up over my hair in an attempt to keep the deer flies from swarming my face. It kind of worked, but I walked faster anyway.

Around one corner I came across another wetland, and spent some time out on the boardwalks away from the bugs.

But eventually I had to go back into the woods, where I sprinted up and over some lovely hills, stopping only to take a few pictures before racing back to the car.

This is definitely a beautiful park, I just needed to be more prepared. I only did one long loop and there is more to see, so I’ll be back.

But I might wait until after the first frost!

Pretty but invasive.


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Davis Lake Overlook meander

To me, the woods are always filled with wonder and mystery.


Saturday I went on a guided walk, of a park that Katie and I have explored quite a bit. She and I especially like it in the fall, but midsummer turned out to be pretty interesting too, especially when the guide was the person who manages the natural preserves in our township. (You can click on any image and make it larger for more detail.)

I don’t know what this is, was low to the ground, blossom was about the size of a nickle. One blossom on each side of the stem. Do you know what it is?

No, Katie didn’t get to go, it would have been too hard for her anyway, and she’d have been a distraction to all the rest of our group. Plus she wasn’t invited, but don’t tell her that!

Our guide told us the name of this, now I can’t remember. Should have taken notes.

I went back to the park on Monday with my camera to capture a few of the things we saw that I thought were spectacular.

Our guide showed us orange lillies. We didn’t see this particular group on Saturday, it was out in full force on Monday morning, just a few feet from where he showed us lilies, but on the other side of the trail.

Specifically I went back to visit a beautiful field of prairie plants. This year the predominant flowers are black-eyed susan but our guide said next year it will probably be something else as plants get established.

A sea of yellow against that blue sky.

It sure was stunning!

Do you see the little inch worm?

Monday I had blue skies with clouds moving in. I’m always happy with sky like that.

I confess I also walked down to a part of the park that isn’t open to the public. They are working there to make it ready for public use, but it’s not quite there yet and there aren’t paths worked out.

This is a small glacier lake, surrounded by beautiful uplands and wetlands.

I followed where we had walked on Saturday because I really wanted some shots of the little lake back there. Don’t tell them, I scurried down and back quickly so as not to break the rules for very long. And because the flies and mosquitoes were horrible!

Water lilies rest quietly near the shore.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to one of Katie’s parks, she says next time I go I better take her with me! I also made it to the park recommended by one of my fellow nature walkers. I’ll be working on those photos next. Stay tuned.

A walk in the woods is always a good thing.

And meanwhile, get outside and take a walk. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there and we can all use some gorgeous in our lives.

Speaking of gorgeous…


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And then the sun went down

Last week I thought there might be a great sunset, so I headed over to the park where I can climb a hill and have an unobstructed view to the west.

You hardly ever see anyone else on the nature trails that wind up the hill, but on this evening a pregnant couple and their photographer were climbing out of cars at the same time I was. As there are several ways to the top I asked them which way they were going, and told them I’d go the opposite. They laughed, I think in relief, and we headed off on our own paths.

There was a half moon hanging in the sky as it began to get dark, but not much to the west of me. I spent my time taking pictures of other things.

I noticed the couple standing in the tall grass down below me. They were standing about where I’d taken pictures of lupine in the fading sunlight a month or so ago. Where I ended up with two ticks. Hmmmmmmm.

They looked beautiful together in the evening light. Silently I wished them and their baby well and hoped the photographer told them to check for ticks when they got home.

Meanwhile the sun wasn’t making much of a sunset, so I continued to focus on other things.

It was a beautiful evening and I was glad I was there even though, in the end, there really wasn’t much of a sunset at all.

For a little while I could forget all the craziness going on in the world and just enjoy the soft summer air, the light sliding off the grasses, the birds beginning to swoop against the sky turning navy.

I wish you all a bit of peace like this, or whatever works for you, during these times. Share with us all how you relax during these days of social isolation.

We can all use some new ideas on that front.


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So much to smile about.

Both of them worked so hard to keep the kids fed.


Well, first on my smile list is the fact that I’m figuring out the new laptop, and the new Lightroom and even though there’s still a lot that I’m frustrated with I know eventually it will all work out.

Sneaking around the side to check on the kids.

But here it is, Sunday afternoon and I can’t let the second week go by without posting a smile for Trent’s Weekly Smile campaign. I don’t understand how time moves so fast when I’m not really doing anything. They say (and they are right, whoever they are) that time speeds up as you get older. Maybe that’s what I’m experiencing.

Listening to what the kids are up to in there.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I took a series of photos of my wren family while mom and dad were frantically feeding the youngsters. The light wasn’t always good and certainly cropping these made them even more grainy, but they were such a delight to watch that I’ve been meaning to share them with you.

When either adult arrived at the box they’d do a little wing flap dance. This time they both arrived at the same time.

And even though they’ve been gone for a week or more now, looking at these images still makes me smile.

“I’ll wait here, you take yours in first.”

Of course the wrens aren’t the only thing worth smiling about around here. Yesterday I went on a guided walk through one of Katie’s park, she calls it Katie’s Park II, with a knowledgeable young man who manages the township’s nature preserves.

Doing their happy dances.

I didn’t take my camera and there were at least a couple moments that I wished I had it. In the next day or so I’ll be going back to see if I can capture a couple things I hadn’t noticed when I was walking there with Katie-girl.

“Eat your bugs and then dad will bring you desert.”

And during our walk someone told me about another park that she really likes, so I'll be going out there too. I'm pretty sure you'll get to see photos from both soon. Might even be next week's smile!

“Where’s my shift replacement?”

Meanwhile, enjoy the wren couple. I miss hearing them sing all day while they’re sitting on top of their home. I hope all their babies are growing big and strong and maybe next spring one of them will raise another brood here. Maybe I’ll get to photograph them with a more powerful lens, or at least in better light.

Taking a breather.

Oh, and Katie says to tell you all HI! She’d tell you herself but she’s busy planning her next nap. She says that’s about as exciting as it gets around here these days.

She’s not wrong.

Heading out to find more dinner for the hungry brood.


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I bet you miss me

Katie here. I know it’s be quite a long time since I’ve visited my mama’s blog. It’s not that I haven’t had plenty of stuff to talk about. I’m a sheltie. I always have something to talk about.

Wonder what’s over there?

Nope, it’s all mama’s fault. See she got a new ‘puter and she’s been trying to figure it out. Mostly she’s had a problem getting her pictures to download to the new laptop, and mama said I couldn’t talk about our latest walk in the woods unless she could add the pictures she took.

Of course.

After all, what’s a blog post without pictures of me? What? You say you’ve seen plenty of posts that weren’t about me? Huh. That just boggles my mind.

Ahem.

So a couple of weeks ago mama said it was nice and cool outside, maybe in the 50s (10 C), and did I want to go for a walk in the woods? Silly mama. She keeps forgetting I’m a sheltie. Of course I wanted to go for a walk in the woods!

Mama said she was going to drive to the back of the park cause it was a weekend and there were too many people at the front. But the road was closed where she was gonna go, so she parked in a different spot. I should have started worrying right there.

You can rent this cabin. Mama wants to find out how.

We explored a bit and found a trail. Mama figured we’d walk along it for awhile and then turn around and go back the way we’d come.

But it was so pretty, and I was so happy we just kept on going.

And eventually the trail turned back in the direction we’d come so mama figured it would be shorter just to follow it back out to the road and then we’d just walk up the road a bit to where we were parked.

Yea. Good plan mama.

Cause, as you guessed, that trail didn’t go entirely back the way we had come. No it wound around another little lake and up and down hills. Mama thought we were still going in the direction of the road, she was keeping the sun over her right shoulder, but she had no idea how much longer it would be before we saw the road. She did, however, know it was a long way back if we turned around.

Mama likes light on stuff in the woods.

I, however, was blissfully oblivious to the whole dilemma.

Luckily mama had brought me lots of water and I drank it every time she offered it to me. I drank a lot, but mama didn’t, she was afraid she’d need it for me later. She’s a good mama, other then her propensity for getting lost.

Finally, a long time later mama caught a glimpse of the road through the trees and she hauled me over there even though that’s not where the trail went. I tried to tell her we were supposed to be following the trail, but she said she was the mama and we weren’t going that way.

Mama said we were getting our feet wet. I would like to say I did not. Silly mama.

But once we got out to the road mama wasn’t 100% sure which way we should go to get pack to our car. She used the sun again to make a guess, she figured we weren’t that far, and she had a 50% chance of guessing right.

She began to doubt herself after we walked up and down hills, in and out of shade and the road just kept going. She didn’t think we had walked that far in the woods, and she was worried about me walking in the sun. If she had guessed wrong we were going to have to walk all this way back and then who knows how much further. Still…there was no proof, yet, that we were going in the wrong direction.

So we kept on walking. Mama would stop when we got to shade and give me more water. I still thought we were on a grand adventure but mama was getting stressed.

Me sitting on a big log. Cause it made mama happy.

Finally a red car went zooming by, and then came back the other way in a few minutes. The lady driver wanted to know where the beach was. (The beach is way up at the front of the park, and mama knew we were parked way at the back of the park.) So mama told the lady the beach was up where the guard shack was…and then she asked, just to be certain, if the lady was currently now facing the front of the park? The lady said yes…so we knew we were still walking toward the back of the park.

We walked some more, up and down more hills, around more curves, each time mama thought she’d see the parking lot where we parked. But she didn’t see anything but more trees. Finally we came to a fork in the road and she had no idea which way to walk. She didn’t remember driving by a fork when we first drove through the park.

As we were standing there trying to figure out what to do a park truck drove by! Mama flagged that young man right down and explained we’d been walking for a long time and we needed to know if we were going in the right direction, toward the very end of the road. He looked confused, then said yes we were.

So we started to walk again. And do you know what? Around the very next corner, only a few yards away, there was the end of the road and our car! Mama was so relieved.

Me? I thought the whole thing was a big adventure. Mama was proud of how well I did on a long walk. And our way out of the park mama stopped at the place we usually walk and took a picture of the map so she could figure out where we had been.

Yep, we were in the woods for a long time.

She’s been studying that map and she still has no idea. My advice for mama is maybe we should just stay on the trail we already know. And to always bring lots of water. And maybe bug spray.

Just sayin.

Mama says to let you know that her new ‘puter doesn’t have her photo editing software on it yet. So these pictures from our walk are straight out of the camera. And to top it all off WordPress changed their format and she had to figure that out too. So far she can’t figure out how to change the size of the images so they’re all huge!

Mama says it’s almost too much that her laptop and her blog software has all changed at the same time. After all, she says, change is hard.

See you all later. Just telling you about this adventure has worn me out! I need a nap!


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Bird brained

When I left you at Kensington last week I promised to show you some of the craziness happening in their giant heron rookery. The heron babies are now teenagers and I think they’ll be flying free any day now.

How many youngsters do you see in the image below?

Here’s a shot of just one side of the rookery. You can click on any picture in the blog and make the image bigger, I’d do that if I were you to see all the detail. And do this on your desktop or laptop or something with a bigger screen than your phone.

I don’t know either, I think around fifteen. I sure would like to see a few of them leave the nest for the first time. Talk about suspense!

I’m so certain they’ll be leaving soon that I went back to the park, even though it’s 40 minutes away from where I live, the morning after my last post. And the morning after that.

I was hoping to see an adult feeding the teenagers. I’ve seen it once before and those young adults can get pretty aggressive with mom or dad. I remember thinking that somebody was going to fall out of the nest there was so much tugging and pushing going on.

Some testing of the wings, getting ready for takeoff?

But the second morning I got there a little late, more like brunch than breakfast, and I think I missed all the action. There was some sibling pushing and showing off, but mostly everyone was just waiting for the next meal to show up.

Yep, it’s pretty boring around here.

There was one flyover of an adult heron. That was exciting for those of us waiting on the boardwalk. After all there are only so many pictures you can take of a bunch of herons standing in a tree.

Accompanied by a harassing redwinged blackbird.

I was about to give up, figuring all the adults were napping after feeding their hungry broods earlier in the morning, when a mama or a daddy showed up to a very excited youngster.

One very happy camper waiting in the nest for a snack.

Everybody else, in the neighboring nests, had their hopes dashed again.

Disappointment down below.

Yep, now things were getting interesting up there!

Hey Jerry! Look at that!

But that was it for the excitement; I figured I was too late to see the show, so the next morning, when Katie got me up at 4:30 I stayed up and got out to the park before the moon had even set.

It was a lovely morning. Doesn’t look like anyone’s awake up in that tree yet.

The light was wonderful.

The usual suspects were standing around waiting for a meal to arrive.

In fact I was so early, and so sleep deprived that I forgot to check the camera settings.

I like this shot anyway, even if it was an accident.

Which is how I got the above image. My ISO was still set at 100 which is nowhere near high enough for the low morning light and a sandhill crane flying right by me.

Meanwhile a heron landed at the very top of the tallest tree in the rookery.

Make way, I have arrived!

He (or she) appeared to be giving a lecture to the captive audience below.

Pay attention kids, I have things to tell you about the world out there.

He or she sat up there for a long time.

“Talk, talk, talk, these older folks don’t have a clue.”

After awhile the kids all started looking elsewhere for a snack.

“Hey! Is that mom coming this way?”

And finally he or she gave up and flew away.

“You can’t tell this younger generation anything.”

After all that excitement it was quiet again. I decided to take myself for a walk to see what else I could find. Want to come with me? I’ll try to keep it short as you might be bird-fatigued already.

Oh, there was this other artsy-fartsy image I kind of liked, though it wasn’t what I intended.

Sort of Edgar Allen Poe, though this isn’t a raven.

I fed a jay from a bit of seed I had in my pocket.

“Thanks lady, most people ignore us jays cause we won’t come sit on your hand like those annoying little birds.”

He seemed to appreciate it.

And there was a plump female bluebird way up in a tree watching everything.

“What’s going on over there?”

I had a red-winged blackbird follow me down the path and perch noisily in a tree about 3 feet from my face while I was changing from my long lens to something shorter. I asked him what he wanted and he looked at me like I was crazy. Of course. He wanted something to eat. So I offered him a bit of seed and he came down and took both peanuts and flew off. Little pig. No picture of it, but you can imagine.

Rounding the next corner I saw a sandhill crane couple looking beautiful in a meadow.

Posing like she’s getting her senior year photo taken.

She and her mate and I got up close…

“If I show you the top of my head can I have another treat?”

…and personal.

Such pretty birds!

They were both interested in having a little after breakfast snack…

This feels somewhat scary, their beaks are so big, but they are very gentle.


…though only one wanted to take the seed directly from me. I left some on the ground for both of them to share and moved on down the path.

“Bye lady! Thanks for sharing!”

There were other things in the forest that were calling my name.

“Hey! You got anything left after those big birds held you up?”

I began to move along faster, I’d already been out there longer than I expected. But it was such a lovely morning and I knew how lucky I was to be able to walk in the woods instead of hunker down at a desk on a Monday morning.

Sure beats going in to the office!

Retirement is a wonderful thing.

Yep, nice to get out of the house and spend the morning in the woods.

Around the other side of the lake I saw a complete sandhill crane family. Dad was standing guard and mom and baby were off in the tall grass. I didn’t get a good shot, but this is the baby, all legs and long beak.

Pretty baby, as soon as it got too far away from it’s mom it scurried to catch up. Dad never took his eyes off them except to shoot me a look.

Almost back to the rookery I stopped to contemplate this plaque on a bench.

Born 6 days after me, died one week after my wedding day.

It made me realize all over again just how lucky I am.

Then, back at the rookery where there was more horsing around and wing flapping.

“My wings are bigger than your wings!”

But there didn’t seem to be much else going on so I decided to head home. I didn’t get the shots I had come for, no parents feeding their youngsters. None of the teenagers took a leap into adulthood and flew away.

“Come back any time, lady!”

But I saw a lot of really interesting and pretty things. And, as always when I walk in the woods, I came away grateful.

Isn’t this swallow beautiful?

And that made me smile.

Contemplating the good life.