Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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What season is it anyhow?

Mostly content to stay at home these past few weeks, I started to feel camera withdrawal yesterday. It was warmish out, bright blue sky, big puffy white clouds, the kind that would look lovely hanging above a red barn or two.

Ah, that’s the ticket. Puffy clouds in a pretty blue sky.

But, here in Michigan, we’re still under a stay-at-home order. We’re supposed to stay put unless we’re going to the grocery or the pharmacy. Darn. I don’t have any drugstore needs that are close to barns.

I think it’s still legal to go to a park and walk. But somehow that seemed like too much work and I stayed inside and painted little postcards instead. As I sat at home watching the sun set amid big puffy clouds, listening to the weather report I began to regret my decision.

Not much snow over winter, but plenty of rain this spring.

This morning, still in bed, but staring at the dark ceiling and listening to the wind tear by the house and the rain pound on the roof I figured I had lost my opportunity for a park walk. Just because the park didn’t have barns, I told myself, was no reason not to get off my behind and go see what there was to see.

I figured today wouldn’t be the day.

But by early afternoon I noticed blue sky and big white puffy clouds. Huh. So it was only 28 degrees (-2.22 C) and there was a stiff wind, so what, right? Blue skies and puffy white clouds called for a camera adventure.

So I bundled up and headed to a park only 6 miles from me that isn’t usually busy. Plus it has my favorite line of photogenic trees.

But 2 miles from the park I noticed ahead of me what looked like a dust storm. Maybe a farmer was plowing a field? No, of course not. This was not dust. It was snow!

Things did not look promising heading into the park.

The park I was going to visit, the one where I was going to walk nature trails to the top of a hill and photograph blue sky and puffy clouds, was in the middle of a snow squall!

I almost kept on driving, right past the entrance. But I figured I was out there, I could see what might be worth photographing, preferably from the car. And then I’d just go home where obviously I should have stayed in the first place.

I sprinted from the car to the shelter of the nature center to get my obligatory image of the line of trees I so enjoy.

I didn’t even realize the heron was flying and in the image until I looked at it later.

It was still snowing. A heron flew over my shoulder and landed on the opposite side of the pond. He kept moving away as I approached and of course I didn’t have my long lens on the camera.

Can you see him standing over there? Wrong lens on the camera, this is a cropped version, and he’s blending into the rushes at the edge of the water.

So I gave up on him and headed up the hill.

Why look! Is that blue sky I see?

And as I did the sky brightened and the blue sky returned along with beautiful clouds. Behind me the snow clouds were still producing, but on the nature trails the sun was shining.

Snow clouds are just over the ridge.

You never know what will happen if you just show up. Sometimes you have to make a decision which way you’ll go. But as long as you make the best decision you can, with the information you have, well, you’ll be just fine.

Either way will work out.

As soon as I was safe and warm back in the car it began to sleet.

The wind picked up and sleet pounded the windshield.

And on the drive home I saw more snow clouds coming from the west.

Spring in Michigan is a mixed bag. Every year.

Yep, I had a sliver of an opportunity to get out there and enjoy the sun. I’m sure glad I took it, even if it’s obviously not really spring around here yet.

Just that one fleeting moment of sunshine.

On the other hand, maybe it is.

Greening proof.


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The band of five bullies

Looking for a smile, I’ve been observing my birds as they go about their daily struggle to find food. Though it’s really not such a big struggle in my yard, the feeder is pretty well stocked most of the time.

Hurry up lady!

The struggle seems to be the hierarchy of who gets to eat first when fresh seed has been put out.

I’ll take my fair share now. And yours too.

The little birds, the goldfinches, now sporting their bright summer dinner attire, and the titmouse, the chickadees and the sparrows all sit up in the trees and sing their alerts when I’m out filling the feeder. The bravest among them will swoop down and grab something before I’ve even gone inside.

These two lovebirds weren’t interested in the feeder. They needed to get a room.

They have to hurry because shortly after I’m in the house the band of five arrives with intimidating calls and flashes of bright blue wings.

Alert! We have arrived, all move aside, we are hungry!

Yes, I have some bullies the control my bird feeder. There are usually five of them, and they take over daily. Today I attempted, from inside the house, to capture them in full drama mode.

I didn’t capture everything, and I was shooting through a dirty window in low light and should have done a couple things with the settings but there wasn’t time.

We do not wait in line!

And to be honest, in the thrill of the moment I forgot anyway.

I’ll try this again, maybe if I spend more time outside on the deck they’ll get used to me and I can eliminate the dirty window part of the whole adventure! Today it was too cold and windy. We got a snow squall just after I took these.

Incoming!

But, given the virus, I figure I’ll have a lot more days at home to try again.

Jays are not the only bullies.


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Snowy interruption

Katie here.

I’ve decided you all need a diversion from the anxiety and stress that seems to be overwhelming us. I’ve thought about this quite a bit and what I think you need is……ME!

I’d like to go outside please.

So I’m going to postpone my afternoon nap and tell you all about what’s going on here in my kingdom. I know you’ve been wondering.

First of all let me tell you that mama and daddy and I are all fine, though I’ve had a bit of a worrisome time this week. You see, several weeks ago mama scheduled me to have my teeth cleaned. She and daddy had noticed I didn’t always smell so good, and once in awhile I pawed at my nose. But the vet was busy and I couldn’t get a senior appointment until this past Wednesday.

Throw the snowball already, mama!

With all this virus stuff mama considered canceling, but she decided she didn’t want to wait because she was going to head down to Alabama soon and I needed white teeth for that! And the vet said even though I’m 13 now I was a very healthy 13, so we went ahead with it.

Well! Let me tell you, I don’t like going to the vet and I especially don’t like it if mama or daddy don’t stay me! Mama isn’t too keen on it either; she says she cried after she dropped me off.

This is WAY more fun than going to the dentist!

And when she came back to pick me up I wasn’t even happy to see her. I was all doped up and stuff and feeling really sad. She took me home and worried about me all that night.

Turns out they had to take out six teeth! This was unprecedented! Mama had no idea there was such a problem in my mouth! Even the vet who looked at me in January didn’t see that much! They took out 4 back molars and two incisors. I had my teeth cleaned every year, and last year was the first time any tooth came out and that was just a little one up front that fell out on it’s own.

Stand back! I’ve got it!

Mama hasn’t looked in my mouth yet, she’s giving me lots of personal space because she feels so bad for me. They’re soaking my food until it’s very soft, and I’m on antibiotics and pain pills for the rest of this week.

I’m milking it for all it’s worth too, mama didn’t even put me in my crate this week when I woke her up real early every morning and wouldn’t let her go back to bed. She feels sorry for me, don’t you know. And she sort of feels like a bad mama that she didn’t realize how bad my teeth were.

Running in circles in the snow is pretty fun!

Actually, today I feel pretty good, my face isn’t swollen any more and I played out in our fresh snow. Mama threw some snowballs and I chased them. Well, I chased four of them, and then I told mama that was enough and walked back to the deck.

She smiled, but was kind of sad.

I think I’ve had enough, mama.

Mama says to tell you that she and daddy are being careful and so far they are both just fine. And we’re not going to Alabama, it’s just not safe for mama and me to drive that far. Mama is sad about that too. Me, well I’ll be just fine once I get paid in treats for putting this post together.

And once I can get back to my afternoon nap.

Keeping one eye on the mama.


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Living large as befits a princess

Katie here.

Welcome to Davis Lake Overlook Park! Or as I call it – Katie’s Park Two.

Boy I’ve been busy; mama says you wouldn’t know I’m going to be a teenager next month. After lolling around all summer I’m now all energy and bark. Maybe too much bark, but it gets me what I want so I’m not going to stop.

Even when mama calls me “KATE!”

Stop lolly-gagging around mama!

So when I kept barking and getting under her feet, mama gave in and took me to a local park. It was a beautiful, if a bit windy, day. Mama said that worked in our favor because no one else was out there.

The wind is taking down the last of the leaves!

She was intent on taking pictures of these yellow trees out in the wet swamp.

It was such a pretty day!

She does this every year and every year she gets her feet wet. I chose to stay up on the hill and wait for her; I haven’t forgotten how I got my feet wet following her last year.

I’ll wait here.

Then she started focusing on the light shining through this young oak tree leaf. I was bored and figured she should be focused on me and my treats, so I photo bombed her shot and she got the message. After that it was all about me.

Which is more pretty? This stupid leaf of me?

Still, this was just a local park and I thought I deserved a bigger adventure. After all, this year I’ve spent weeks and weeks at ‘camp’ and she feels quite guilty about that. I milk it for everything I can, so I kept bugging her to take me somewhere more fun and guess what?

Whatcha going to do for me next, huh mama?

She made a date with another sheltie and her mom down in Ann Arbor at Nichols Arboretum!

Meet Abby!

Abby is going to be 12 soon. She is a very elegant lady.

Mama and Amy’s mom have been Facebook friends for a long time, and it turns out Ann Arbor is sort of halfway between where we each live, so we met there yesterday.

Isn’t Abby pretty? She has a regal air about her don’t you think?

Abby and I got along just fine, mostly because we ignored each other. If I’m honest I sniffed her behind a couple times, but she was polite and didn’t try to sniff mine at all.

Abby’s mom didn’t bring her any treats, and she still posed when asked. I, of course, demanded payment after each shot.

At first we weren’t too excited to pose too close to each other, but almost right away we recognized if we just did what they asked we got to go off and sniff sooner. And there are so many good smells in the woods there!

This is Abby’s mom Shaun.

Since I had been there before I showed Abby some of my favorite places. There was one spot with lots of pretty leaves on the ground.

Abby didn’t mind hanging around getting her picture taken at all.

Then mama saw this tree. Well. You know we had to pose by that!!

“Does she always make you stop and take pictures on your walks Katie?”

We walked for a long time, but Abby and I didn’t get tired at all, mostly because mama was always stopping for more pictures. You know how mama is.

I think Abby had a good time too!

On our way back to the car I asked Abby if she wanted to come back sometime and explore more. She said she was definitely interested!

“I think this was a good idea, Katie!”

It’s a good thing we went for that walk yesterday. Cause this is what’s happening today!

Oh yea, Fall is over!

So, as you can see, I’ve had a pretty good time lately. I didn’t even tell you about the new park I explored last week with my friend Deuce!

Me and my friend Deuce as the sun set on another perfect day.

Yep, mama’s keeping me pretty busy. She says she’s trying to get me to sleep through the night. Yea. Like that’s going to happen.

Talk later, your park advisor pup, Katie-girl.

I always have fun with my friends.


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Snow infringes yet again

April 15th of this year we had snow. It seemed way too late to be getting so much of the wet white stuff. Sure it was pretty. But really, winter around here is long enough without it lingering on.

Our back yard on October 30th.

So our warm season seemed even shorter this week when on October 31st we got the first snow of the season. Yes, Halloween night, when kids from around the neighborhood should be enjoying a house-to-house foraging for candy, we were enduring wind, sleet and snow.

The snow made the colors pop.

Needless to say no one came to our front door.

But in the morning we enjoyed the beauty the night’s storm left behind. We still have quite a bit of color here, leaves had only just turned when they were coated with snow.

Fall and winter, mixing it up. Unfortunately we know which will ultimately win.

It made a pretty juxtaposition, the warm colors of fall against the stark coldness of winter.

The ginkgo tree begins to lose her leaves, the maple has hardly any left.

Katie and I went out to explore the backyard. Lots and lots of pretty things there.

Kind of like a Christmas card.

She wasn’t even jealous that I wasn’t paying attention to her, she was having such a good time following smells.

Mama, I kind of like this snow.

It was pretty cold, the snow stayed around for most of the day, but by the next day it was gone. We’ll enjoy a few more days of sun before winter comes back for a longer visit.

Add a little ice to the mix.

Katie says we should get out there and enjoy every one of the good days. Cause she knows how it is when the snow is higher than she is tall.

The last hurrah.

And it’s not fun.

Sad sunflower.


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Out like a lion or hungry birds

Not surprisingly we had snow on March 31st. This is Michigan after all, where winter doesn’t go quietly.

We only got this much snow, but it sure was pretty!

Oh no, winter around here is much more sneaky than that.

After beautiful days earlier in the week those pesky weather people predicted snow, and they were right. It started Friday evening, by Saturday morning the yard was stunning. And when the sun peeked through the clouds (for only a few minutes, but still) it was spectacular.

A moment of sun early in the morning made it all sparkle.

I told Katie I arranged for snow just for her Gotcha Day. I don’t think she bought it, but she was kind enough not to laugh.

I’d rather not sit here mama, can we go back inside now?

Even she seemed to think it was pretty cold, wet and windy when we toured the yard. She said snow was not enough to get me off the hook for the lack of celebration on her big day. I had to promise something special for later. I think camping might do it, but don’t tell her.

Seriously mama, I’m cold and wet.

Meanwhile the birds were crazy. I have so many cute shots of them crowding around the feeders, that they will have to be in a separate post.

It was crazy around the feeders!

And of course Katie will be posting about her day and her expectations for future adventures. I might be in a bit of trouble there. We’ll see.

Waiting his turn at the feeder. Classy gent.


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Define spring

The calendar says winter is over. But those of us living in Michigan, and I suspect, other northern states know better than to trust a date on the calendar. Around here we look for more definite signs that spring is poking around and considering hanging out with us for awhile.

For me robins bouncing around in my front yard is hopeful, but not really true evidence of the season changing; we’ve been known to have them stop by in the middle of winter. In fact I think I have a picture somewhere of a very disgruntled robin sitting in my heated birdbath during an icy snowstorm.

Gotta get your bath in when you can.

Up here it’s not really spring until I’ve hear the red-winged blackbird’s cry. It’s a distinctive sound, one you can’t confuse for anything else. That’s why I was grinning last week, because the blackbirds were robustly announcing their arrival. This week they are busy daily cleaning out my bird feeder, they must not have stopped anywhere for lunch on their trek home to me.

Singing for his supper.

Then there are my goldfinches. Though many hang around all year the bright yellow males turn to an olive green in the winter. And in the spring they start sprouting patches of brilliant yellow again, a heralding of sorts that warm spring days aren’t far away.

It’s starting to get yellow around here.

This week the goldfinches are turning a decided yellow. I’ve been hanging out by the windows just watching them power eat thistle seed. Every day there seems to be more yellow showing.

Do you have any more food in there lady?

Some of them have turned almost totally yellow already. Proof positive that winter is losing it’s hold over us, even though it snowed again today.

Can’t hide my colors now!

Daffodils are pushing up from the cold ground. I saw buds on a bush yesterday. The limbs of the forsythia bush seem to have a golden glow though there are no blossoms or even buds yet.

I’m not so gullible to think it’s time to till the garden or plant those annuals yet. Way too early up here. And I know that every year we have a significant snowfall in April.

What do you mean this isn’t the last of the snow?

But I also know that last snow won’t need shoveling because it will melt by mid afternoon. And the sun will grow warmer and finally, finally the frogs will begin to peep.

And then it will be spring.

More evidence.


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The zen of snow blowing

Early morning light shows promise.

Last night we got five or six inches of fluffy snow. Early in the morning, taking Katie out for her first foray into the yard I noticed, even in the dark, how beautiful everything looked. With no wind, and the sun just beginning to edge up into the sky, I could tell it was going to be a great day for blowing out the driveway.

What you say? No one enjoys snow removal?

Well, on a pretty morning, under bluing skies, with fluffy white poofs of snow hanging on the spruce trees and white birch glowing, being outside for any reason is just about perfect.

It’s going to be a pretty day!

And blowing snow out of the driveway is sort of peaceful. There’s a rhythm to it, up and down, back and forth. Mindful more than mindless, as I try not to spray snow and perhaps stones on my husband’s truck parked in front of the house.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end which lends itself to a sense of order. You can see progress. You can get as creative or as efficient as you want. Sometimes creative is efficient.

The first run down the driveway determines all the rest.

So I cleaned up the driveway, and then, since I was already dressed for it, Katie and I went out to explore the back yard.

Hurry up mama!

We had a great time running around and looking for pretty stuff. Five inches of snow is the perfect amount for a sheltie to bury her head searching for treasure.

It’s right HERE mama!

I always wonder what she thinks she’s going to find under there. Apparently it’s something wonderful.

Darn, I was THIS close to finding it!

The yard was so pretty it was hard to go back inside.

Snow piled up on everything.

But Katie felt that since she had posed for me several times and since I hadn’t thought to bring any treats outside with me, well, we should probably head back to the house.

Race you!

So we did, but not without one last look back at the yard, dressed in it’s winter finery.

Sooooo pretty!

Almost makes staying north all winter worth it.

Typical winter in Michigan.

Almost.

We’ll come out to play again today sweetie.