Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


21 Comments

Spring finally fights off the winter blues

Singing with joy in the sun.

We’re done with snow in southeastern Michigan. I think.

It’s been cold and rainy for what seems like weeks, not feeling like winter, certainly not feeling like spring. But with all the rain things are starting to bud, to spring up from the squishy earth, to green almost before our eyes.

Color is popping up everywhere.

I was walking out at a local park earlier in the week, trying to get my miles done, training for a summer race. I know that if I start noticing things, stop to take pictures with my phone, that I’ll never get the miles in.

Subtle color glows.

So I made note of where some of the prettiest stuff was and went back with my camera the next day. I was expecting a quiet walk in the woods, but it turned out to be the most beautiful, sunny, warm day that we’ve had yet this spring and that caused lots of people to go out to enjoy the park.

Light turns skunk cabbage into emeralds.

That didn’t bother me at all. I was immersed in the beauty of light on leaves, light making grass and skunk cabbage glow.

Cow slips, or marsh marigolds, either way they’ll make you smile.

Light bringing color to what has been, for months, a grey and drab woods.

Green life glows in the woods.

I only walked 5 miles on Sunday, but it took me almost three hours. Seems I was stopping every little bit to capture something else.

Tiny bits of color are everywhere if you look.

While others were riding by on bikes, or jogging past with the slap of feet, I was crouched down, my face near the earth trying to capture that illusive image.

Bits of gold hidden near the forest floor.

I couldn’t have been happier. Indeed, I couldn’t stop smiling.


9 Comments

Nobody asked me if I wanted to go

Katie here.

You’re going to think I’m being repetitive if every time you hear from me it’s to complain about mama. Yet here I am once again having to deal with a mama that obviously doesn’t think about me before she goes off and has a good time.

This time it was even worse because she came home after being gone a whole week and she smelled like my boyfriend Reilly! Can you believe that?

Denny and Reilly my boyfriend at the beach.

She went to visit Reilly and his little brother Denny and she didn’t take me!

OK. So yes she flew and yes I would not like flying. And yes I didn’t have to go to camp and yes my daddy was with me and yes daddy and I had a great time.

So maybe it wasn’t all that bad. I guess.

She came home Wednesday night and I made sure to get her up very early Thursday so that we could spend lots and lots of quality minutes together.

She was very appreciative.

Red skies early in the morning.

She did get to see the sunrise because of me. She said it was pretty. I guess it probably was, I don’t know because I went back to sleep as soon as she was up and moving around.

She did take me to my favorite park Thursday afternoon and we even got to watch some guys do a managed burn at one of my other parks!

This was at one of my parks!

I’ve never seen that before, it would have been scary if I hadn’t been in my car with my mom right by me. Mom thought it was very interesting even though emotionally she has a hard time with something burning up right in front of her eyes.

Me at my park, with the burned area right across the creek.

Mama said she liked the bits of spring she found better than all the smoke and flames across the way.

Hope buds eternal.

And she says we better enjoy it while we can because those weather people are predicting snow this weekend.

So anyway…I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on mama. My Mr. Reilly wanted her to visit for a few days and she went to take care of him, and I’m thankful she could do that, cause Mr. Reilly is a very very special guy.

I hear the boys are very good at asking for treats too.

The fact that mama got to walk on the beach without me is something I will just have to forgive. Forgiving will be easier if there are treats involved. You, my faithful readers, may want to remind mama of that important detail.

Guess who forgot to bring treats on this walk?

She seems to have forgotten that part of our contract.

Talk later,

Your gal Katie, patience is my middle name.

Yea. Right.

You can’t hide treats from me mama!


10 Comments

Dutton Island Preserve

On my last full day in Florida my friend took me to another sort of park. Not on the ocean, no waves pounding the shore, no shells to collect.

I loved the subtle color of the grass curving into the brilliant blue of the water.

No, Dutton Island Preserve is quieter, more reflective and sits among the salt marshes, an entirely different world.

The water was so still.

We walked among tall pines and over boardwalks. We listened to the birds calling, and watched for fish to jump.

So much texture and color!

It was a small park compared to the vastness of the ocean, but it was beautiful. Though we only saw one woodpecker, we heard plenty of things rustling in the grass or hopping about overhead.

Hungry bird.

It was a wonderful way to wind down a lovely week spent in the warm sun with good friends and good dogs.

Great day for a paddle.


10 Comments

Little Talbot Island State Park

Monday my friend took me out to Little Talbot Island State Park where we wandered on a beach totally different from the beach at Mayport Naval Base.

Wide sandy beaches meet the turquoise ocean.

Instead of a beach covered in shells crunching under foot there was a wide span of white sand stretching as far as the eye could see.

And hardly anyone was out there aside from a few people fishing from the shore.

More birds than people at the beach on Monday.

We walked a long way. I kept noticing how the sand changed the further we went. The tide was out and the hard packed sand showed evidence of how the water had massaged the sand into fascinating shapes, then left it to bake in the Florida sun.

Memories of the last tide etched in the sand.

I kept taking pictures of the sand, thinking to myself…who does this? Who focuses on the sand and not the beautiful vistas?

Don’t you wonder how this pattern was made?

Well…I do.

And you’ve already seen beautiful beaches with turquoise water reflecting brilliant blue skies. I wanted you to see something different.

The colors of the water close to shore were spectacular.

Next time you’re out on a beach somewhere look down and pay attention to what you see. There’s all sorts of color and patterns there, mostly taken for granted.

The last bit of water flows back to the ocean.

Interesting things live there too, like this ghost crab that we found far from his home on dry land where he would typically live.

Don’t mess with me people!

We think a bird picked him up and dropped him out near the water. He was in rare fighting form, always facing us and waving his claws. I thought he looked a bit like a Lego robot myself.

This looked like the badlands of South Dakota as seen from a plane.

Most of all we just walked and enjoyed the beauty of the water and the beauty of the sand and sun.

Sunshine, palm trees, sand and water.

And we enjoyed the fact that we are retired and can spend a Monday afternoon doing nothing more than appreciating the world around us.

A lonely beach didn’t feel lonely at all.

I hope you can all take a moment to do the same, no matter where you are.

Driftwood looks like angel wings flying into the sky.

And Katie-girl….I’ll be home soon.

Definitely not in Michigan.


19 Comments

The greening

Taking a walk in the Jacksonville arboretum.

There’s nothing more special than watching your world transform from winter brown to brilliant spring green. But sometimes those of us in the north get impatient while Mother Nature takes one step toward sunlight and falls two steps back into sloppy slushy cold.

Peeking out to see the sun.

So you can’t blame a person for skipping all of those last moments of winter and retreating to warmer climes. Like Florida. And that’s what I’ve done.

Magnolias are in bloom here.

A friend in Florida wanted to take a short vacation, but her two dogs couldn’t go with her, and she wasn’t comfortable putting them in a kennel.

Whimsical tree.

And on a whim she asked me if I’d consider coming down to house sit with her lovely pooches. My calendar was open for the proposed dates. Hmmmm… let me think…would I like to stay in the cold north and continue to watch winter fighting it out with spring?

Cedar stumps create sculpture covered in moss.

Or would I like to walk barefoot on a sunny beach, watch palm trees sway against blue skies.

Pops of color everywhere if you look.

Let me think about that.

Spiderwort grows wild here.

So here I am, hanging out with two sweet boys, enjoying the sunshine and the warmer temperatures. Sure tomorrow is going to be stormy and we’ll be stuck inside all day.

Pretty shell-like fungus hides in the shade.

But that’s OK. It’s almost guaranteed not to snow.

It’s called Christmas licen, bright red on tree trunks.


17 Comments

How did YOU celebrate National Pet Day?

Katie here.

Mama took me to one of my parks to celebrate National Pet Day yesterday. I didn’t expect her to remember, because, as you all know, she’s pretty ancient and remembering things never was easy for her even back when I was little and she was younger.

Beat you up the hill mama!

She must have written it on her calendar or something.

Anyway, she was going to take me to this one park with a long trail through the woods, but on the way she noticed another park that had been closed all winter was open! Even though there was snow on the ground she said this was a sign that it was really spring!

Perfect weather for a sheltie-girl!

But of course she wanted to capture the image of our (hopefully) last snow, so she made me sit in it.

You better have good treats mama, cause this is worth at least two of them.

Really mama. I didn’t want to sit in it. Cause I don’t like getting wet, and of course I did get wet. So I refused to walk at all until she got that snow off of my behind.

How embarrassing. Now she’s showing the world my behind.

Mama is not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know what I mean?

People had been through this park over the winter and cleaned out a lot of underbrush. I don’t know why, but it did make seeing our town easier.

Our little town.

Yep, that’s our town. It’s only one block long and most of the stores are empty. When mama tells people we don’t live near anything she’s telling the truth! Personally I like it that way, makes it easier to get to my parks! Plus traffic makes me bark.

Mama and I went up and down a lot of hills, mama was looking for fun stuff to photograph that wasn’t me.

These were weird, they looked like treats but mama wouldn’t let me eat any.

She found a bunch of stuff, but I figured that each time the shutter clicked I should get a treat whether or not I was the subject. I think that’s in my contract – one click one treat. Nothing in there says I have to be the center of every photo. I don’t think. Maybe I should check that…I might need an addendum attached.

By the time we turned back almost all the snow was gone. Mama could only find little bits of it in odd places.

A little snow caught in the hollows of a branch.

I was happy because she didn’t make me sit in it again, but I wasn’t happy about heading back to the car. We only went one mile mama!

I’m sitting right here until you reconsider ending our walk.

But in the end I guess the mama knows best. After all I’m twelve now, and sometimes I over do and then I end up at the vet. Plus she promised me we’d go to another park soon.

I just hope she wrote it on her calendar.

Signing off for now, your park explorer girl Katie.

Feeling hopeful.


20 Comments

Smiles can come from the smallest things

Trent coordinates a weekly smile post over at his blog, inviting us all to find at least one thing each week that made us smile, and then share it with all of you.

Nice concept, don’t you think?

I’ve been out walking a lot and this little bit of nature made me smile a whole lot…

A bit of green in early April always makes me smile.

…because it felt like spring.

What made you smile this week? Share with us! Cause it’s going to snow here soon and I’m pretty sure we could all use a smile.


29 Comments

The trees talked to me

On an impulse, and because I’m still working on my 365 days of walks, I took my camera and wandered the woods of my favorite local park. It was later in the day than I’d normally be out there, and though I had seed and peanuts for any bird I ran into, I wasn’t out there to find picture of birds.

An overcast sky couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

I just wanted to be in the woods.

When I arrived two school bus loads of elementary students were milling about. Not a good sign. But luckily they were loading up to go, so I skirted their noisy mass and headed for the trail the furthest away from chaos.

So much texture and color if you just look.

There I began to notice the trees, and it was as if they were speaking directly to me. Who, they said, ever notices them? Most people are out in these woods looking for birds to feed, or deer to watch, or wildflowers nudging up from the wetlands.

Nothing out here but me and the trees.

Who notices our bark, they wonder, our towering stature. Who appreciates the shade we provide or the abstract art our branches draw? Who even takes note of the songs we sing when the wind blows and our branches rub against each other?

Oh wait. Let me take a closer look. I’m feeling watched.

So this post was going to be all about the trees, the different textures and shapes and sounds I experienced while I was there.

Tree art.

It wasn’t going to be about birds or deer or chipmunks or squirrels.

But as I was concentrating on capturing this lovely old log…

Even in death a tree provides nourishment and life.

…I heard from somewhere behind me a gentle cry, almost a soft whining. I looked back to find this little one asking politely if I had something, anything, for him to eat.

I’m sorry to interrupt you, lady, but have you got something for me?

Normally the nuthatches are a little more reticent and don’t come down to my hand until they’ve studied me awhile, until other birds, those brave titmice or the cheeky chickadee have made successful landings. But this little guy was hungry and no one else was around, so he had to be brave.

Thanks lady! Peanuts are my favorite!

And just like that birds began arriving from every direction.

And it was that way the rest of my walk.

Flight paths became crowded.

But along the way I did find other beautiful things. Like these fungus growing along a fallen log.

A bit of green on a cool spring afternoon.

And the last bit of winter color hanging on.

Some red to brighten the landscape.

And as I climbed a hill I ran into these guys.

Three gents out for a stroll, looking for love or lunch, whichever comes first.

Still looking for interesting trees, I turned to walk around the small lake, and was approaching my favorite stand of white pines, rounding a corner, and literally had to stop in my tracks. Because marching down the path toward me were a pair of cranes without a care in the world.

The lunch menu today seems a bit thin, don’t you think honey?

They walked right up to me as I was clicking away, and, without seeming to notice me, walked on by within inches of my hip. This didn’t really surprise me as the cranes here are so used to people. They usually ask for something to eat, but I’m a bit timid about letting them eat out of my hand. So I tossed them a few seeds and moved away to watch.

Aren’t their colors wonderful?

I had to laugh as they moved on down the trail and one of them stopped to stretch.

Awkward!

I continued on my way around the lake, anxious now to get back to the car. I had more than enough photos to choose from for my one photo of the day. And I’d been out there for a couple hours already and had barely walked 2 miles. Couldn’t even count this walk as exercise!

But the surprises weren’t over.

Around a few more corners, almost back to the busiest part of the park, I saw a deer munching on lunch. And behind her was something white. At first I thought it was just something caught in a tree, some trash perhaps.

Or maybe it was a cow.

What you lookin at lady?

A cow? Oh no, not a cow, but the fabled albino deer I’d heard about but never hoped to see. I didn’t get close, and there was a lot of brush and trees between me and it. But oh my.

Be still my heart.

I stood quietly for a very long time, just watching, not wanting to startle it or cause it to run. Eventually I eased myself further away long the path with a huge smile on my face. A once in a lifetime sighting.

So that was my day wandering in the park, talking to the trees and my usual suspects of birds. For a day when I didn’t think I’d see much of anything I sure had some wonderful experiences.

Thinking back on it all I feel, just like Mr. Blackbird, like crowing.

Hello world! Wasn’t this a magnificent day!


8 Comments

Making up to yours truly

Katie here!

It’s boring around here.

I figured I should bring you up to speed, since last time I stopped by mama had thoroughly disappointed me by not doing anything much of anything for my Gotcha Day. Then she made me sit in the yard with a bunch of rubber ducks. I was not amused. But I’m happy that some of you found it cute.

Ahem.

Well, mama’s been a disappointment all month. Thursday she actually sent me to the groomer and then, while I was there, she went for a walk without me! She said it was really muddy and she was glad she didn’t have me with her.

This would have been a disaster if I had been with mama!

I have to agree, it wasn’t a princess worthy walk. I don’t like the groomer, but I guess it was better that I was there than getting my feet wet and dirty!

Then on Friday mama left me home and took herself off to her favorite park and walked around there for more than two hours! Without me!! I don’t understand what is the matter with her brain!? She still owed me something for my Gotcha Day! And she takes off with the camera and leaves her sheltie at home??

Well! After she got home and made my dinner daddy suggested that maybe I would like to go for a walk. Daddy is brilliant, though he maybe suggested it because I was huffing at him and bugging him and he figured he’d pawn me off on mama.

Let’s get going mama!

But it worked! Mama said sure baby-girl! Let’s go to your park! It was such a nice evening, and you know what? The sun came out while we were there! Just for us cause no one else was out there.

Look mama! It’s the SUN!

We had such a nice walk that I’ve decided to forgive mama for her lapses in judgement. It was the perfect length, not too long, not too short. And mama and I sat together on a little hill and cuddled for a little bit too. Don’t tell my dad, he might get jealous.

Let’s just sit here for awhile mama!

I guess mama and daddy really do love me, even if sometimes they forget important days, they always make it up to me. Cause I don’t let them off the hook.

Signing off for now, one happy sheltie-girl.

Thanks mama! I think we’re even now!


21 Comments

Early morning smile

I was thinking yesterday about what this week’s smile might include. Nothing really stood out except that magnificent image I didn’t get of the two cranes flying low across a grassy brown hillside, sun glinting off their wings. And though that made me smile at the time, it’s caused me angst since because I didn’t have my camera with me and it would have been a great shot.

My favorite photogenic trees at Katie’s park early in the morning.

I’ve been to a few parks this week with Katie-girl, she’s enjoying the cool weather, I’m enjoying the lack of snow. Several times I’ve seen pairs of cranes float by. Never had a camera. So one morning this week I decided to go out early by myself. No dog. Just me and my camera to see if I could catch a pair in flight in the rosy morning light.

Don’t tell Katie, but I went to her park. It’s a totally different experience early in the morning and without her. It’s just a little park, with a mowed walkway around the perimeter, nothing special unless you’re a dog. Or a bird seeker.

I saw my first interesting bird as I pulled into the parking lot. A pair of killdeer were hopping along the gravel path. I couldn’t get a nice shot though because he kept turning his back on me.

Trying to ignore me.

Then I noticed my shadow stretched out long in the early morning light and was so busy capturing it that I didn’t notice that robin on the last fence post to the right. He would have made a nice picture, shining red in the sunlight.

Bet you didn’t see the robin either.

By the time I noticed him he flew up into a huge tree and became just about invisible. I guess you have to be alert when you’re out looking for birds, they rarely give you a second chance.

So I headed down the path, noticing the way the sun shone on everything and sort of missing my Katie-girl. A flurry of activity caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.

Flapping his wings for attention.

I ended up with a bunch of really bad pictures of this bluebird couple who were checking out a housing unit together. When I first saw them they were both fluttering around the house opening. The light was bad and I couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder, so I just kept clicking.

He was all hot and bothered, trying to win her favor. As I approached they flew from tree to tree, she’d fly first, he’d follow and perch nearby, flapping his wings, talking all the time to her. She’d hop to the next tree, he’d pursue, not too close, and flap and talk some more.

Showing his true colors in the morning light.

I decided to leave them be, not wanting to be the negative influence that made her reject him and his housing offering. As I moved beyond the birdhouse and then looked back I could see she was standing back on the nesting box.

Maybe she’s made up her mind.

And then she flew to join him at the top of a shrub just across the way.

The loving couple shares a quiet moment together.

I think they’re going to make it.

Seemed wherever I looked somebody was singing loud and clear.

Hard not to notice this guy with his big sound.

And while I was trying to get a shot of a cardinal in the top of another tree there was all sorts of commotion in the pond behind me.

He likes to choose the highest branch to proclaim his territory.

Seems a flock of ducks had gotten into a misunderstanding, and they took off into the bright blue sky to circle around and around the pond, chasing each other, working out the hierarchy for the coming season.

All six landed back on the pond, so maybe this was just an exercise in take offs and landings.

It was hard trying to capture them as they flew in and out of the sun now blazing down on Katie’s little park. But I liked the way they looked against the sky so I kept trying.

And while I was busy with that an insistent bit of chirping and warbling caught my ear. I turned around and this little guy had planted himself quite low in a tree right in front of me.

Now just who are you again?

I’d been trying to get his picture when he was in the tree with the cardinal, but I couldn’t tell what he was, he was just too far away. I guess he wanted his turn in the spotlight because he sat there, proudly puffed up, and chirped away at me.

I moved off to the side trying to determine what he was and he didn’t seem afraid of my moving at all. He just kept singing.

Sing it buddy!

I still don’t know what he is, maybe a song sparrow? Or something else? Once he figured I had enough images of him he nodded his head and flew off to look for breakfast. Cheeky little guy.

So I wandered around a bit more but my fingers were cold and I was happy with what I had. I did hear the cranes a few times while I was out there, their calls always seemed to come from the opposite side of the park, no matter which side I was on.

So, no crane pictures from this adventure, but I’m still smiling. Because when I got back to the car the robin was still singing and this time he let me get the shot.

Did you get my good side lady?

And the killdeer couple was still bopping around, happy on their gravel path and willing to let me grab one more image, this time of the two of them together.

Another happy couple checking out housing options.

I hope all of you had at least one big smile this week. And if it wasn’t a great week I hope the birds here at least made you grin just a little bit.

And someday I’m going to show you the most amazing image of a crane couple gliding gracefully in a blue sky. Makes me smile just thinking about it.