Once upon a time (this afternoon) Katie and I were sitting on the back porch just watching the lake. Not reading a book, not napping, not looking at a phone or a computer screen.
Just watching the lake
A cool thing about being on a lake is that it’s always changing. From moment to moment the light changes, the wind ruffles the surface, a fish jumps, a bird swoops, clouds gather, thunder threatens.
Wait a minute. Thunder threatens? Why yes, almost every afternoon in this magical place a thunderstorm pops up.
Today we heard it way off to the north, but getting closer. And across the way dark clouds gathering high above a house.
I left Katie on the porch and went down to the lake to get a better look. She was not happy to see me approaching danger. But she stayed up on the porch and worried.
It got darker and darker. The wind picked up from the northwest.
Waves developed and Katie just couldn’t stay on the porch any longer. She rushed down to the shore to bark at the bad waves! She was so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her.
She ran out onto the dock to bark even harder at those waves posing a threat to her mama.
And the winds slowed, and the waves leveled out and Katie was a happy girl.
And then the rains came and we ran for the house. We watched the storm blow from the comfort of our living room and picture window. Katie continued to bark at all the thunder overhead.
And soon the storm blew away, and the sky began to lighten.
And the sun came out and made the world bright again.
And Katie said…
… “I told you I’d handle it mama.”
Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.
I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.
So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.
We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.
We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.
But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…
…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.
After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.
The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.
Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.
And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.
There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.
Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.
But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.
We paddled through more older waterfront homes…
…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.
Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.
The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…
…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.
But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.
And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.
We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.
I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.
This one sure did.
Hey! I bet you figured out that when mama and daddy went to Washington DC I didn’t get to go. Nope. I got left at ‘camp’ and I think I got gypped. Mama and daddy got to eat out at fancy restaurants and got to see the monuments and got to go to the zoo and I got to….well…I got to eat my dinner on time every night. I didn’t even have to bug anyone to get it! Not like here at home where I have to remind mama loudly and persistently every single day that it’s almost supper time!
Mama said it was too hot in DC for me, she told me I wouldn’t like it, but I think she was just telling stories to get me to feel better. On the other hand, it’s been really hot here too, way too hot for me to have any adventures at all.
But yesterday it rained real hard and I had to bark at the ceiling for a long time. After I made the rain go away it was a lot nicer outside. Mama and I even slept in our tent in the back yard! I love to sleep outside and I didn’t get mama up until 5:00 a.m. She was pleased cause usually I’m getting her up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. Every day.
And this morning mama was cold! That hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. She said it was a good morning for a walk at my park! Did I want to go?
Did I! Of course I did.
I cried at the front door until she hurried up and got herself together and off we went. We even got to go in daddy’s truck! I used to be afraid of his truck because it makes a different kind of noise, but I’m a big girl now and I love to ride up front with mama. She doesn’t let me do that very often cause she says I’m not safe up there, but once in awhile I get lucky and there isn’t any gas in my chariot.
We got to my park while the grass was still damp, early in the morning, and so we were surprised to see a Little League tournament going on. Tiny little kids in cute little uniforms filled all four softball fields. So we went to the other end of the park and walked the other way around.
Mama was sort of worried about me because I was walking really slow. But she let me have as much water as I wanted, and let me walk without being on a leash and I just wandered at my speed. At one point she asked me if I wanted to go back, maybe I didn’t want to go all the way around the park.
I told her she was crazy, I wasn’t going to turn around now that I was finally out there! I just needed to go slow as befit my advanced age. I’ll be twelve in December you know, so that makes me eleven and a half. Almost as old as her.
Besides, going slow I got to sniff everything. Some of it twice. Mama said that was OK, it had been a long time since I’d been there, and who knew when it would be cool enough to come back. She said she didn’t have anywhere to be, so she let me take as long as I wanted.
Of course, in return I had to pose for the typical photos. But she gave me a treat for each pose, so I was good with it.
It took us over an hour to go a little less than a mile. Mama says we’re not going to win any races and I had to remind her she’s not training for any races anyway. Sometimes mama forgets she’s not a young pup herself.
Besides, the delay wasn’t all my fault. Mama sneezed at one point and I had to take several minutes to bark at her. After all it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s OK after she sneezes like that.
When we finally got back to the front of the park I sat on a hill and watched the little kids play ball. I have always loved to do that, even back when I was little too. I like to see the kids run around the bases and sometimes there’s a treat or two or ten lost in the grass that I can snitch.
I wanted to get closer to the action but mama said no. I thought she was being mean, but then I realized I was getting sort of tired and needed to take a nap, so we headed back to the car.
Mama says we’re going on a big adventure pretty soon. I don’t know what she’s talking about but it better not include being left at ‘camp’ again. I’m staying vigilant, but if any of you guys know what’s up please let me know.
A girl’s got to have an escape plan ready.
Katie here, signing off for now….zzzzzzzz….
I’ve enjoyed doing the WordPress Photo Challenges over the years, but this week, with no explanation, they have decided to stop. The last photo challenge is to post your all time favorite photo.
Well that’s not going to happen. Even if I found the time to sort through thousands of images I’m fairly certain I don’t have an all time favorite.
So I’ll post an image I took yesterday. It represents my broken heart and feeling of loss.
Katie here. I know, I know, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well I haven’t been doing anything exciting, that’s for sure. Mama has been busy with her camera and taking a lot of pictures that are not me. I don’t know why. Surely there is nothing as beautiful as me. Mama is fickle and I usually just ignore her.
But sometimes a princess has to speak up and I think it’s about time that I point out the lack of adventure around here. Totally unacceptable.
Mama did take me over to my park a couple of times this spring. She likes to do a photo shoot of me in the pretty yellow flowers. She says most people don’t like these flowers but she thinks I look beautiful sitting in the middle of a huge field of yellow.
Well of course I do mama. I look beautiful no matter where I’m sitting, and I thought all my loyal fans would like to see some of the photos featuring me instead of some anonymous birds.
I know mama likes to take pictures of birds, but truly, don’t you think she should stick with me?
Anyway, we had fun over in the field filled with yellow flowers, and mama has promised me an adventure real soon. In fact she says I’m going on my adventure this afternoon.
Wait a minute.
I’m going on my adventure? Why isn’t she going on my adventure? I’m not sure I like the sounds of this at all. If you get a phone call from a payphone it’s probably me. I’m counting on you to come save me!
After all, a Princess knows she can depend on her loyal subjects. Right!!??
For the past three weeks I’ve been walking a bit every day…part of a challenge to walk for 365 days, each day sharing on Facebook a photo of something I’ve seen.
I don’t think it’s a formal challenge, not something a whole lot of people are doing. It certainly hasn’t gone viral. But it intrigued me, and I figured it would get me out the door.
Plus you know me. I like to find things, big and small, to share with you when I go for walks.
I know you’re not all friends with me on Facebook – some of you probably aren’t on Facebook at all. So maybe you haven’t seen the images I’ve posted there. I guess I could put together a slide show of the first 24 days or so….
…but this post was meant to talk about the photos that didn’t make the cut. After the first day I decided to limit myself to posting on Facebook only one photo per day for the challenge. I’m posting my favorite one out of the inevitable batch I’ll have taken on each walk.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that I can’t take just one photo on a walk. Even when all I have with me is my phone.
And now I wonder what I should do with the extra photos. Are they destined for obscurity, never to be seen by anyone but me?
All the photos on this post were leftovers, extra images, not used, but not unloved.
What do you think I should do?
I’m not a mother, unless you count Katie-girl and she doesn’t recognize holidays. My own mother has been gone almost fourteen years, and though I miss her every day, this year I just didn’t have a traditional Mother’s Day post in me.
So I went out to my favorite park to spend some time among the birds that she loved. I feel like I got to spend some time with her while I wandered the woods and wetlands.
There were lots of people, large groups, families, mostly noisy people there on this nice Sunday after days of rain. I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of wildlife. But I was wrong.
I saw so much I don’t think I can share it all with you in one blog. So maybe I’ll just share with you a few (define few) of my favorites and not try to take you along on the whole walk.
While I was taking pictures of shaggy hickory bark I heard wings fluttering near my head. It was this little guy being quite persistent about wanting a treat.
I held out my hand and he hopped right down. He was thoroughly disgusted that I didn’t have anything for him.
He flew off and sat on a branch talking to me. OK, OK I said, reaching into my pocket for a bit of seed.
But the highlight of this walk were the pileated woodpeckers. I saw one as soon as I turned off the main path. I heard him first and I stopped to look.
I got to show the family walking behind me this amazing bird. He didn’t seem skittish and I watched him for a long time before moving on.
The family, now ahead of me, was excited to see a herd of deer not too far off the path. I didn’t expect to see anything when I got further up the path, but there they were.
I was looking for trillium, a flower that blooms in the woods here in Michigan. Around the next corner I saw a few, smaller this year than usual, but still pretty. I crawled down a steep creek bank to get an image…
…then climbed back up the bank to sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery. As I flipped through the photos I’d taken so far I heard a pounding. What was that? I looked around and found a pair of pileated woodpeckers flitting around down along the creek. I crept up closer and watched.
They didn’t stay anywhere for long, and I have a lot of really bad images of blurry bird parts. But finally one of them stopped long enough for an unobstructed view.
I sat there a long time, watching them and smiling. Eventually I realized a little friend had ventured up on the stump next to me. Begging for a bit of a treat.
Of course I tossed him a seed or two. Or three.
Just being in the woods was fun, even when there weren’t any birds to entertain me. The spring is so green, and everywhere I looked there was something interesting.
Time was passing and I felt like I needed to head back to the car. I was as far away as you could be and still be on the nature trails. I picked up my pace, intent on getting home to make dinner. Once again I heard fluttering near my head. This time it was a nuthatch wanting my attention. They’re usually a bit shy, though I’ve had them eat out of my hand before.
I held out a few seeds and the nuthatch flew in and grabbed one and then quickly flew off to some fallen trees. He did this a couple times, returning to my hand so quick that I didn’t think he was eating the seed. And then I saw him doing this.
He was hiding the seed for future meals! I think anyway, maybe he was just doing aerobics. Each time he took a seed he flew to a different spot, depositing the seed and then rushing back for more. Such a little clown.
And while he was doing that, as I was standing there in the woods, interrupted on my rush home, I saw out of the corner of my eye this couple:
They were just across the creek. She was busy eating and he was busy showing off. There were several turkeys over there, but he was the only one obviously in a relationship.
I turned and headed back toward the parking lot. On the way I ran into another cute little woodpecker. He didn’t really want his picture taken so he moved around behind the old cattail reed he was working on.
But I’m patient and eventually he worked his way around the stalk, intent on getting to something.
I was almost back to the boardwalk and I figured I’d check out the heron rookery. Turns out it was really quiet, but there was plenty of other things to look at there, including some beautiful lily pads…
…and this guy.
Most of the birds I saw during the day were making noise. That’s how they got my attention, whether they wanted it or not.
But some were pretty camouflaged while looking for good stuff.
Until one of them looked up to see who was watching them.
It was such a beautiful day, this Mother’s Day, I hope you got to see or do something fun, with family or on your own. I realize how lucky I am to have such a wonderful place to explore with my mom.
I know she loved it there as much as I did.