Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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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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!


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A Tail of Three

It all started early one morning when we noticed a visitor breakfasting in the back yard.

But wait! Look who else has arrived!

A young buck enjoys our house special, succulent turf du jour.
Are you looking at me, lady?
Just a moment…do I hear something over there?
I guess it’s nothing. If that lady is going to be taking pictures I better spruce up a bit.
Meanwhile, another visitor approaches the buffet.
Just one moment! Who are YOU?
Why, no one important, sir!
OK then. Just so it’s clear who’s the big buck around here.
Yes sir, of course sir!
Shhhhh! Just a word of warning, watch out for the big guy over there.
Thanks for the tip!
And another thing, you two youngsters need to show more respect!
I swear, this younger generation has no idea. The things I had to put up with when I was a kid. Why I walked to school in blizzards, uphill both ways!
I’ll just grab a quick snack to go…
Need to find me a quiet place for a nap.
Kids today…gotta keep em in line. Yep, always something….


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What to send?

The library here hosts a photography contest every fall. Residents of our township submit up to three 8×10 images which are numbered and affixed to big display boards.

#1

We have the month of September to submit photos. Then they are on display at the library through the end of October.

#2

People get to vote on their favorite. There’s an adult and a kids division.

#3

The only rule is that the images have to have been taken in our township.

#4

I love looking at all the pictures. Lots of times I think, “darn! I’ve seen that exact image and always thought I should stop and take a picture!”

#5

The first year I submitted three images, things I thought were artsy, interesting, technically good.

#6

I realized right away when I saw which images won that the people voting are not judging skills, but rather are voting with their hearts on things that touched them.

#7

So I changed my strategy and tried to see my photos from a casual observer’s point of view.

#8

What would catch someone’s eye? Make them smile or even laugh?

#9

What image would make them come back and look again?

#10

All of these photos are from around my yard. You’ve seen most of them before. I have to pick three.

#11

What’s your vote?


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Waiting on the Milky Way

So what does a person do all day while waiting for true dark to arrive? Besides nap that is.

Working on the river.

Well, on the one day the skies were clear while I was in the UP I wandered the Manistique waterfront looking for other things to photograph while impatiently urging the sun to hurry up and sink.

If you zoom in you might be able to read about the lighthouse.

The mouth of the Manistique River was being dredged so I watched that for awhile. It was sort of interesting, but you can only watch so many piles of mud being moved before you have to move on.

Scoop after scoop of muck was dug up from the river bottom and poured into the barge.

I couldn’t resist walking out on the causeway leading to the shiny red lighthouse. It was such a pretty day.

A wide cement walkway made the trip out there easy to navigate.

I spent quite a bit of time out there waiting for the sun to go down. And watching the light glint off the water.

It’s not a long walk on a pretty day.

A couple of guys were fishing but they hid behind the lighthouse for me to get some shots.

All metal, it can withstand some nasty weather. But none was forecast while I was there.

But as the sun lowered I came back into shore.

The flowers glowed, loosestrife, an invasive, and goldenrod.

The evening light makes everything so pretty.

The last bit of light before the magic begins.

And then, slowly, slowly, the sun sank and the blue hour began.

Let’s take a walk down this boardwalk.

Earlier in the day I had scoped out a place to set up, hoping that the Milky Way would be near the lighthouse from my vantage point. The compass said it should be. But I knew I only had one night so I hoped I wasn’t wrong.

The beginning of blue hour on the beach.

I waited impatiently. It takes forever for the night to get truly dark. And then….a few stars decide to turn on their lights.

Here we go…

I still couldn’t tell exactly where the Milky Way was going to shine…but the stars made me smile anyway. And then….finally, finally, there it was. It was pretty darn amazing. I don’t know why the beach wasn’t full of people just staring.

Take a moment and just look.

I stayed out there a long time. A lot of it not shooting, just standing there, in the moment.

Because, really, how many shots can you take of the same lighthouse with the Milky Way? Well, as it turns out…several dozen. You see, the dark sky requires that you have a high ISO and a wide open aperture and that causes grainy shots.

Beautiful without the lighthouse too.

But you can stack them. Did you know that? There’s software that will lay your photos, one on top of the other, and match up your stars and eliminate anything different. And that clears up a lot of the grainy noise. Huh. So I was taking 7 shots of each shot, in preparation for stacking. But I learned, just this week, I should have taken 10 to 15 shots to stack.

Ah well.

Many of my images had these streaks. I never saw it when I was on the beach, but some people say this light in the sky is the Sky-Link satellites. Zoom in and see what you think.

So, anyway, these are single images, no stacking here, just a little editing to bring out the whites and sometimes to lift the shadows.

I still have so much to learn…so many technical things that I can do to make the images more clear, more beautiful. But the Milky Way season here in Michigan is almost over. There will be one more chance in October, just a few nights, and then I’ll have to be patient until 2023.

Just to show you, we are never alone, the sky is full of stuff flying around.

Yea right. I can hardly handle waiting for the sun to set in a single evening. How am I going to get through months of no Milky Way?

It’s gonna be tough.


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So, on to the UP – ey?

Let’s see…last you knew I was hanging out in Mackinaw City waiting for it to stop raining so I could continue on over the bridge to my next adventure.

It was such a beautiful night.

Yep, I was feeling pretty good. Almost kinda certain that I had gotten some decent Milky Way shots at my last location. Of course I didn’t really know, but was feeling good about it.

The other end of the Milky Way.

And I was so excited to be heading to a new (to me) location to find more dark skies. I had a campsite booked for three nights at Fayette State Park which is located at the bottom of the “Garden Peninsula,” a piece of land jutting down into Lake Michigan from the southern edge of the UP. Should be perfect, right?

Well…wrong. When I arrived at the park about 4 p.m. and drove to my site I found a very small site (not necessarily a deal breaker) that was entirely sloped, about the size of 2 cars, and totally a mud pit.

Out of focus because I was speeding away.

I sat there in the drizzle for the amount of time it took me to say”H*LL NO,” and then I drove the long 14 miles back up to civilization where I sat beside the road and searched the internet for a cheap hotel.

Where do I go now?

Along the way, down and back up, I did note that the Garden Peninsula itself was beautiful. With lots of barns and windmills and such.

So that made it a bit easier when I had to drive back down there again to formally check out of the campground that I never camped in so that I could get a refund for the other two nights.

A barn being renovated.

A sixty dollar refund was worth the drive too. I should have just checked out the evening before when I decided not to stay but I was so freaked out by the campground I just ran.

Mama cow wants me to move along.

I made reservations at another state park, Indian Lake, which pretty close to the town of Manistique. It was a much nicer place, with larger camp sites and grass. It wasn’t full my first night so I had a distant view of the lake, though the second night someone camped behind me. Still, I had plenty of room.

Much better. Grass and a view.

And it was only three miles away from the lighthouse where I spent a lot of hours waiting for a sunset and hoping for a chance at a decent Milky Way image.

Did I get that image? Well, as usually this post is getting too long, and I still have lots of images to edit. So I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

Not much of a sunset….but there was the anticipation of stars.

I just had another 2 hour lesson from my Milky Way teacher and I now know more about what I don’t know. I guess I need to get out there for another practice session!

Meet Harlo, my doggie neighbor at the campground.

Oh darn.