Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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In the woods on a rainy afternoon

Katie here.

Yea, I know. I was just here a few days ago. But really, wouldn’t you rather hear from me than watch television news? Of course you would.

What’s over that way, mama?

So I was guarding the house er, napping this afternoon and mama said I looked old. My head was up but my eyes kept closing and then my head would droop and then I’d wake up and try to keep watch again. Just resting my eyes, you know.

Why do I always have to wait for you, mama?

Anyway, mama asked me if I wanted to go to a park. She said she was going a bit squirreley herself, being in the house so much. Huh. I didn’t know mama could be a squirrel — maybe I better watch her more carefully.

Are you really a squirrel, mama?

The next thing I know I’m in the car and we’re driving to a park! Mama told me we had camping reservations for next week at this park but the reservations got cancelled cause of the virus.

Mama is sad about that and said we could at least walk in the woods near the campground. She said it would be beautiful even though it was sort of raining on us.

Mama thought these raindrops were pretty. I think they were just wet.

Mama was right.

The trees are beginning to leaf out and they are that pretty early spring green. No one else was there. There weren’t even any mosquitoes!

She spent way too much time on this silly acorn.

Mama spent a lot of time taking pictures of little things she thought were pretty. I don’t get it. There’s nothing out there more pretty than me!

Seriously mother? It’s a leaf. Who cares about a leaf?

Sometimes when she took too much time on things not me I’d huff at her. She told me I was being annoying. Do I look like I’m annoying her?

Well, yea. Sometimes I can be a little bit annoying.

Well. Maybe just a little.

And another thing. She told me I looked old. Do I look like I’m old to you?

I don’t like to be left behind. Plus she has treats.

I didn’t think so. Of course this was the only time I ran like this, and I didn’t do it when she asked me to, I did it just because it was fun. Mama was lucky to get the shot. I got a treat for that one!

Anyway, we had a lot of fun walking in the woods. We didn’t walk real far, because it was over 60 degrees (15.55C) and kind of humid. That makes it sort of uncomfortable for me. Frankly I’d like it if it snowed every day, but I guess that’s not what most people want.

Mama found some yellow flowers for me to sit next to. I think she’s taking this yellow flower project too seriously.

After we got done with the walk in the woods mama said we should check out the boat launch because the sky was getting kind of interesting.

I didn’t mind making another stop at all, even if we were approaching my supper time and normally I’d want to be home so as not to miss it. I’d had quite a few treats on our walk so I was good for a little more adventure.

Even with all these clouds it wasn’t raining on me.

It was beautiful out there at the lake! Some people were fishing but we maintained our social distancing just fine.

I posed for mama whenever she asked and when it started to rain and she wanted to go back to the car I didn’t want to go! Mama says I am stubborn, I say I just know what I want.

Two guys and a boat made a nice picture.

And a princess, always, should get what she wants. So we walked for awhile longer in the nice cool rain. It was wonderful.

Pretty colors and a bit of rain.

I’m a happy princess now. I haven’t had an adventure like that in a long time. Mama says it’s to make up for not being able to go camping next week.

I told her she better get the tent put up in the yard, one walk wasn’t going to make it up to me.

If you agree, please let her know. The more people telling her I deserve a couple nights in the tent the better!

Thank you,
Your girl Katie.

Glad you could come along with me on my walk!


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A little attention please!

Katie here.

First of all, how long has it been since you’ve heard from me? I asked mama very politely to please go back and look and has she done it? No! But I can tell you it’s been very very long time in dog years.

Mama! I never get to do anything fun!

And it’s not as if I have nothing to share with you, why it’s been…well…come to think of it, it’s been quite boring around here! Mama and daddy are around more than usual and you’d think that would spice things up a bit but in reality having them around so much just interferes with my naps.

I haven’t been anywhere special since I went to the vet and got my teeth cleaned way back in the middle of March! That was no fun, they pulled six teeth! Mama felt really bad. I made sure to mope around for a day to make her feel extra sad.

The most exciting thing I do is sit around in my yard on my princess pillow.

But I bounced back because I am a sheltie and shelties definitely bounce.

Anyway, since then not to much has gone on. Mama took me to my park (finally!) last week. It was really windy and cold. I thought it was perfect. Most of the pictures in today’s blog are from that walk.

I’m getting a little shaggy with no spa day in sight!

Mama said I looked extra beautiful in the breeze because I haven’t been able to go get my furs cut. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s just fine with me. I am not enamored with the whole bath thing. I would like to get my nails done though.

This sure feels good!

Mama tried to get photos of me when the wind was coming from all directions and my fur was going in all directions too. She said it wasn’t easy.

How often you gonna try for the perfect wind-swept image mama?

Mostly she says it’s not easy because I have that one shot, one treat rule, right? So I’d keep getting up and coming over to her for my treat just when she was going to get the perfect shot. So she says.

They planted daffodils at the entrance to my park!

Being deaf has it’s advantages you know. Not hearing mama say “STAY!” is one of them. Oh yea, she uses the hand signals too, but I figure her broken finger makes that signal void. You know what I mean?

This is a really pretty park, I don’t know why mama needs to lollygag around taking pictures though.

So other than that walk it’s hasn’t been very exciting. It’s getting warmer and mama is busy weeding and stuff. I’d just as soon hang out in the house. If she wants to go sit on my deck, well that’s good, I’ll go do that. Mama says that’s more fun anyway.

It’s kinda nice right here on my deck!

And she went camping last night, out in the yard. I didn’t want to go do that either. Made mama very sad. So to cheer her up I agreed to go to my park this morning and see my Aunt Karen and her boy Deuce and go for a little walk together.

Boy was I in for a surprise! Meet Ace! Deuce has a little brother! This is the only picture you will see of the two of us together.

Ace is a 10 week old cocker spaniel.

Let’s just say maybe we’re not going to be best friends. At least not right now. I imagine he’ll grow up to be OK, after all, his brother Deuce is one of my best friends! Maybe I’ll go for another walk with him when he’s about seven. Yea. Seven is a good age.

Mama took a bunch of pictures of him. I was sort of jealous…I’m sure you’ll see all sorts of cuteness in an upcoming blog.

Ace, during a brief moment of stillness.

But remember…I’m the princess and I get final say on what she posts…so if he’s too cute I might have to get out my veto pen. Of course she’d have to use it, I don’t have thumbs.

Mama said we might go back tonight when it’s cooler and do my dandelion photo shoot. I don’t know about that. We’ll see how she’s planning on paying me.

Anyway, that little guy about wore me out and I need some serious napping. I think I’ll send mama out to weed some more.

Talk later, your park advisor and senior puppy mentor, Katie-girl

Me today at my park, before I knew there was a little guy coming on my walk!


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Spring is bustin’ out all over

Motivated by the fact I promised a running buddy that I’d walk a virtual 5K while she ran a half marathon this coming weekend, I went out to a local park on Monday to see how walking further than from the couch to the fridge would feel.

Before my walk Tuesday I stopped by the pond to see how my favorite line of trees looked in the morning light.

I haven’t been out there to walk on the bike path since I did the CRIM race back in August. The race where I fell at the end and broke my finger. A finger injury seemed a good excuse not to exercise for, well, eight months. Or so.

I won’t lie and say it was easy, but it wasn’t really hard either. Monday I only walked 3.1 miles, the length of a 5K, just to see what my time was. Yep…moseying along at my comfortable pace it took me an hour. I’m not really in race condition, but at least I was out there. Right?

I don’t know why I took this picture other than the lights for the parking lot which is over the hill looked cool coming out of the grasses. And the sky was neat too.

And while I was out there trying hard not to take pictures with my phone, which slows me down but also makes me happy, I noticed that spring was just about to pop and I wished I had my regular camera. So right then and there, before I turned around at the 1.5 mile marker I decided I’d go back the next day, Tuesday, with my camera and go just a little bit further.

I enjoy the sky bouncing off the top of this hill almost every time I walk at this park.

Because, you see, I saw cowslips in bloom along a stream at the 1.25 mile marker, but they weren’t in a spot that was easy to reach. And I knew, at mile 2.1 there was a marsh that would be full of them. And a photo of those cowslips (also known as marsh marigolds) was my goal.

Other stuff also caught my eye.

Of course I saw plenty of other pretty things on my way back into the woods. Plenty of things that were (almost) as good as marsh marigolds in bloom in the morning sun.

Lots of these little guys along the edge of the woods.

In fact, I’m sharing a few of them here. Surprise!

Tuesday I went early in the morning, around 8, and it was a bit nippy, but I warmed right up as I walked. There’s a 1 mile walk down a big hill, out in the open that’s always colder than it is once you get back into the woods. I just pulled my hands into my sleeves when I wasn’t shooting an image. Which turned out to be rare moments.

The light was really nice, making the skunk cabbage glow.

I like the open part of the path, even though it runs next to a road, because you get to see hills with golden grass and a view of the sky.

Once you’re in the woods there’s not a lot of sky to see, but there are oh so many other things to notice if you take the time. I’m always reminding myself how lucky I am to have several parks like this near.

Lots of these guys too, just beginning to open up their umbrellas. Which is good, because it’s going to rain tonight.

There were a few people out, mainly on bikes, or jogging. A few other walkers, but everyone was very careful to keep their social distance. We just smiled and nodded at each other as we went by.

These two guys were the nosiest people! I heard them coming from miles away. Talking loudly while riding fast, they were soon out of earshot again.

I didn’t see anyone else out there with a camera. They all seemed to be out there for exercise. Hmmmm….I thought maybe I’d get exercise credit…but my phone, which was tracking my walk, sounded more and more condescending as the walk went on.

These two women had five dogs between them. I’ve seen them out there before, all the dogs did great, only one growled at me. 🙂

“Total distance is 1 mile, total time is 21 minutes, 9 seconds.” Well that’s a little slow even for me. But my excuse was that I took a couple pictures of the hills, and the sky, and well, you know.

I LOVED this view across the wetlands, the red twigged dogwood and the birch and the clouds. I had to crawl through bushes to get it. Worth it though.

“Total distance is 2 miles, split pace is 25 minutes 49 seconds.” Maybe I should pick up the pace, but that mile is my favorite mile back in the woods and the sun was shining off the old beach leaves.

Now SHE gets points for exercising.

“Total distance is 3 miles, split pace is 35 minutes 58 seconds.” Well, there were the cowslips in the third mile. I spent a lot of time there. So really, I wasn’t walking that slow. Really.

Bet you never knew a swamp could look so pretty!

Total distance is 4 miles, split pace is….not worth telling you about.” 🙂

Anyway, maybe I can’t claim this walk was exercise, but I can claim that it was a lot of fun and I got some beautiful images. Including the one that posted yesterday for Wordless Wednesday. I’ll wait while you pop over there to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

I got serenaded (or warned off) by a lot of these guys.

I was almost back at the car when I heard the crane. They make a very distinctive sound. I couldn’t see him, but I got my camera ready, and darn if he didn’t come my way. He went to the east of me, quite a ways away and I got some shots, but nothing spectacular. Still he made me smile.

Then he did a big u-turn and flew back toward me, right over my head! It was really, really cool.

What? You thought I’d put a picture of the crane here?

So that was the end to my 4 point something mile walk. I felt like the whole thing was a huge success, regardless of my turtle speed. Oh…and the cowslips, the marsh marigolds? Did I get a shot of them?

Sun shines on forest gold.

Well of course I did. And I hope they make you smile as much as they did me.

Almost guaranteed that they will.

Last year’s beech tree, this year’s moss both glow.


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We could use a smile

Things have gotten kind of crazy here in the States. No matter which side of the virus crisis argument you stand, it’s gotten crazy. I feel like I need to write something about all of this, but I also think we all need to stop and take a deep breath and maybe even smile.

This guy is a red-bellied woodpecker, showing off his red belly.

So, for now, I’m going to go for the smile.

Yesterday I took my neighbor out to my favorite park to feed the birds. She and her husband have just moved into the neighborhood and I’ve told them about the experience of having wild birds land in your hand.

The usual suspects stopped by for a snack.

This week we both had time to spend out there, and the timing was good. The sandhill cranes are back and the red-winged blackbirds arrived just a couple days ago.

This couple greeted us soon after we got out of the car.

Both are hungry.

I told her that the blackbirds wouldn’t come sit on our hands, they are always interested in the food happenings but will usually wait around until we move off and then go in for the leftovers. Just as I was saying this a huge blackbird landed on my hand.

“Thanks, Lady, this peanut is irresistible!”

I guess they were really hungry, because several of them swarmed around for a treat. I’ve never had them come in like that before, and it was pretty cool.

Of course the cranes were intent on getting lunch too. As we were feeding the little birds these two sauntered up the path behind us.

The cranes that welcomed us to their park stopped by to see if we had anything good.

We had seen them over by the parking lot, but apparently they were interested enough in us to follow us as we made our way into the woods.

We wandered through the woods, over hills and across streams. Just about everywhere we stopped little birds came flying. It was so much fun!

On our way back to the car I noticed these three coming to see us at a fast jog.

“It’s a race! Whoever gets to those ladies first gets the best treats!”

They were absolutely beautiful, look at the colors in their heads…

They almost look fake.

…and in the feathers on their back. The sun wasn’t even out and they still glowed.

Stunning!

Speaking of bird heads…I was speaking of those right? Look at these two closeups of the crane heads….one of them had more feathers making the red part look like a heart.

A heart shaped forehead.

And the other in this particular pair didn’t have similar facial feathers at all.

A more streamlined face.

I wonder if one is a female and one is a male…or is one just different?

Now, a turkey head…well…these are just weird. I think Dr. Seuss designed the turkey.

“What you looking at lady?”

Anyway, we had the best time, and we were serenaded out of the park by another pair of cranes in conjunction with our new best friends, the three turkeys!

Do you see them? They’re both screeching. The turkeys behind us were gobbling. It was pretty intense.

My neighbor shared our stories with her husband and he wanted to experience it all for himself. So this morning we headed back out. Today we had blue skies and big puffy white clouds and a lot of wind.

We were met by the parking lot greeter cranes.

Nom nom nom…

And then we ventured back into the woods. At first it took a lot to entice those little birds to come out of the trees for a treat.

“I’m not sure I’m coming down there, people!”

But eventually we found a spot with lots of the little guys and we spent a long time letting them flit around us looking for good stuff.

“Thanks, mister!”

And of course a pair of cranes came wandering up to see if we were worth investigating.

“Good stuff hiding under these leaves!”

So we had two days of smiles this week which, thankfully, eclipsed all the news on television. I guess things will probably get worse before they get better, but as long as we have retreats like this to escape into, we’ll get by just fine.

The sun always comes back.

I hope you are all finding something to smile about too. If you do, share them in your blog and link back to Trent’s smile post. He’ll post a recap on Monday of everyone’s smile.

These days sharing smiles is something of a public service.


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And then there was sun, so we all smiled

Katie here! Ha!! I bet you forgot all about me! Here it is January 21 and this is my first post of 2020!

Blue skies always makes it seem warmer out there.

Mama says I shouldn’t get my fur in a wad, that people aren’t really thinking about me anyway, that I’m not that important, and seriously why don’t I go take a nap.

Sometimes mama can be a bit insensitive.

I told her that may be but I bet everybody out there needs a smile by now, January being so cold and long and stuff. Why I heard it got down to the 40s in Florida! Heavens! 🙂

I bet this dock is a lot busier in July mama!

So today, with the sun shining on fresh white snow and the sky a deep blue, I told mama that we needed to go for a real walk, not just down the driveway to the mailbox. And do you know what she said?

She said “You are absolutely right baby-girl (she calls me baby-girl when she knows she was wrong but she doesn’t want to apologize.) And the next thing I know I’m at a park!

Limbs reaching toward the sky.

Hot diggity dog! I love going to parks when it’s cold out. I just prance my little hiney right down the path. Mama didn’t even take too many pictures (though to be honest, can there be too many pictures of me?)

A nice wide path sure was fun to walk (and sit) on!

We couldn’t go down mama’s favorite paths, deep in the woods, cause now that there’s snow those are all cross country ski trails. I told mama she could rent some skies for her and me and we could still go up and down those hills and she said if we did that it would be a sight to behold. Plus we’d probably break something important. Like our legs.

So we just walked where the signs said we could.

Winter walkers go left please.

Mama thought it was sort of boring, but I thought it was perfect. A nice, plowed path for me to trot on, lots of pee-mail to read. Can’t beat that.

Then mama said she wanted to go up this hill where some people with snowshoes had hiked. I said “no way mama! Why would I want to tromp through deep snow? You try walking through snow that comes up to your chest!”

Let’s go see what’s up there!

She just laughed and kept on walking so I scampered up the hill to make her happy. I even let her take a picture or two. The things I put up with just to make mama happy.

You’re right, mama, it IS pretty up here!

Anyway, I figured you’d need a Katie fix by now. I hope this made you smile. If it did, or if you smiled about something else this week, write a post and link to Trent’s blog. He’ll do a recap of all the weekly smiles next Monday.

Come ON, mama! Let’s get going, you’ve got plenty of pictures already.

Meanwhile, if the sun is shining make sure you get outside even if it’s only for a little bit. It makes the winter go by faster, and even though winter is my favorite season, I like to see mama smile more, so I’m rooting for spring to arrive any time now.

Signing off for now, your smiling sheltie-girl Katie.

I need my supper and a nap now!


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Healing walk

This morning was the 15th anniversary of the semi-truck crash that killed my dad. Fifteen years of working on issues to make our roads safer. Fifteen years of missing him every single day.

For whatever reason this year was rougher than usual. So after my physical therapy session I planned to take myself off for a walk in the woods. Unseasonably warm, at 52F (11.11C) this December afternoon, I packed extra water for Katie-girl who insisted on going along. “We can’t waste a day like today mama!”

Early afternoon sunlight felt warm on this December day.

Though it was a Monday there were plenty of people enjoying the sunshine. Everyone we met smiled at the cute sheltie who was showing off her good side by letting little kids pet her. We even ran into a woman who said she used to handle shelties at dog shows and that “someone did some good breeding” with Katie.

A perfect day to walk in the woods.

We moved at Katie’s speed which means we walked very slowly. There was so much to see and sniff. I was in no hurry either, thinking about Dad and Mom, and how much they would have enjoyed a walk in this woods on such a beautiful day, and that made me smile.

Do I get to choose which way we go mama?

About an hour into the walk my phone, which I had set to map our walk, intoned “Mile 1, split time – not moving.” I laughed out loud. We were so slow that the GPS in my phone didn’t think we had moved at all. Katie was insulted.

We’ll come back here soon.

All in all it was a lovely walk in a beautiful park. It’s new to us, we were introduced to it just this past fall by a friend. Katie says we owe her cookies or something else equally nice, as this is a wonderful place to walk. While we were there I bought a pass for 2020 as I’m sure we’ll be back!

Sometimes life throws you curves.

There’s nothing quite like spending time outside to shake the blues. I’ll always miss my parents, but it felt good taking them with me on today’s walk.

And I bet they enjoyed it just as much as we did.

Made it through another Dec 23rd.


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Birthday girl is all smiles

Katie here,

Guess what, guess what, GUESS WHAT?!

Today is my birthday! My very own special day when my folks have to pay attention to me! When I get whatever I want. Like to go to the park, and then take a nap and then have cake and ice cream. With presents!

We went for a walk earlier this week. But this wasn’t my birthday walk.

Well, maybe not the cake and ice cream, and maybe not presents either, but definitely the park and the nap! And because it’s my birthday mama says I can use her “Weekly smile” post too. Cause there’s nothing so easy to smile at as a happy sheltie-girl.

Mama, you’re being silly now.

And let me tell you, this birthday girl is happy!

Cause you know what mama got me for my birthday? She got me SNOW!

My birthday walk today was special cause it was snowing!

I just love snow. It’s so cool on my face, and enhances my natural beauty. Mama said she didn’t know what to get me, I’m now a teenager in addition to being a princess, so she ordered up my favorite thing next to supper. Snow.

We had this part of the park all to ourselves.

We went out to one of my parks and walked a long way through the woods. Mama was very busy taking pictures of me in my snow.

This is my supermodel pose.

I didn’t mind because she brought treats. In fact I started looking for good spots for pictures too. I figured the more pictures she took the more treats I got!

This tree trunk is pretty cool, mama, and I look good next to it.

But then mama said since it was my birthday she’d put the camera away and we’d just enjoy the walk. I was OK with that too, there was lots to sniff and I pulled her around to a bunch of places.

I’d look over in one direction and she’d say “Do you want to go check that out sweetie?” and then we would! It was a great morning! We just kept exploring.

We were near some picnic tables when mama asked me if I wanted to be a special birthday girl and leave something for someone else more needy than me. I said sure, so she left some birdseed for the squirrels who were running around the park.

I hope you enjoy this squirrels! Happy birthday to me!

I figured it was the least I could do, cause I know I’m pretty privileged.

We walked for a long time. And then something amazing happened. The sun came out!

The sun smiled down on me, perfect for my birthday walk.

Well! The camera came back out, right away. Mama said I glowed like a true princess! But the sun only stayed out for a moment or two and then we were back to a typical cloudy December day.

It was a perfect walk on a perfect sheltie-girl birthday!

I didn’t mind at all.

Mama said it was pretty perfect for her too, she watched me sniff and explore and enjoy the snow and she forgot her own wet feet and cold fingers. She couldn’t stop smiling herself.

Isn’t the snow beautiful on my fur?

So that was our smile for the week – my snowy birthday walk.

We hope you all had a wonderful week too. As we head into the busy holiday season we remind you all to slow down and enjoy the time you have with family and friends.

The woods are so beautiful in winter.

And if you can, take a walk in the woods, especially if it’s snowing. You’ll smile too.

Happy Holidays!


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Missed it by THIS much

A few weeks ago I drove an hour north to visit a wildlife refuge and found the trail was closed for hunting. I left not knowing if there was anything there enticing enough to make me drive all that way again.

Three cranes drift noisily over the trail.

But it’s stayed in the back of my mind, a little whisper nagging me. What if it’s beautiful?

So Sunday I got up early (OK, Katie got me up early as she does every day) and jumped in the car heading north. I arrived about 8:30, the refuge opens at 7:30. As I was driving down the last dirt road toward the parking lot I heard cranes. Lots and lots of cranes.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is out in the middle of farmland.

I realized I should have arrived earlier, because there were hundreds of cranes flying high overhead, and odds were they had just left the very place I was going. I was missing the mass exodus by minutes.

I stopped in the middle of the road, leapt out and pointed my camera blindly at the sky, trying to capture just a bit of it; I had no idea what I got, but I kept snapping until most of the birds were gone.

Then I drove to parking lot and began to explore.

On the drive north I had been watching the sky, the clouds were really interesting and I was assuring myself that even if the park was a dud, the clouds would make the drive worthwhile.

Early morning art.

Turns out the park was not a dud, though with the heavy cloud cover and a bit of morning fog the colors were initially muted. Still, I was there mainly to see what kind of birds I could capture. So I moved along, further into the preserve.

The over 9,000 acres was once mostly farmland. There are a series of earth dams, pumps and drains to manage the wetlands now. Most of the time I was walking along the top of a dam, with water on both sides of me.

Not a lot of color right at the beginning of my walk, but still beautiful images everywhere.

I seemed like maybe the water was high this year, as full grown maples and hickory trees were standing in water to my right.

Young cottonwood trees glow on the other side of tall trees.

And to the left, on the other side of a tree lined and water filled ditch were open fields.

Splashes of red from maples that lined the ditch.

I was headed down a long straight path toward a ‘wildlife viewing area’ that turned out to be a bench sitting in a nondescript place along the path.

Looking for wildlife.

Along the way I accidentally flushed out two blue herons who had been standing in the ditch. I guess I’m a noisy walker. Both of them startled me and I missed catching their images. No time to get the camera up, turned on and focused. I barely figured out where they had come from when they were gone from sight.

All I got was that little dark spot in the sky. But I know it was a blue heron, and I’m OK with just seeing him.

Darn. Missed each of them by seconds.

I turned around after half a mile, working my way back to the path intersection. A sign said there was a viewing tower 2 miles in another direction. I switched to my long lens and began the trek.

Walking along another earthen dam, water on both sides, I was focused on trees turning colors over to the left. It was pretty amazing.

Mostly maples turning, our first trees to give in to fall.

Then I happened to glance to my right and I laughed out loud.

Fall hasn’t made it over here yet.

It was so green even the air seemed tinged with jade.

I thought I caught a glimpse of a little bird, then two, flitting in some nearby shrubs. Ah…maybe I could catch them before they flew off. From their tail feathers I thought they might be dark eyed juncos, though I hoped not. Juncos are only in our area during fall and winter, and they are my first harbinger that winter is really on the way. It’s a reality check I hate to accept. I never got pictures, the little birds remained hidden in the dense underbrush.

I missed them by micro seconds.

I continued on and the colors of the trees got more and more intense. At least the leaves stood still for me while I messed with my settings.

Kind of unbelievable.

Even though there was no sun, maybe because there was no sun, the colors were intense. It was taking me forever to walk that two miles out to the viewing stand.

Loved the shape of the trunk.

The long lens was heavy and I hadn’t seen any other birds. But there really wasn’t a good spot to stop and change it, so I slogged on. Even when there weren’t colors it was still beautiful.

Oh wait…there’s something, a family of geese enjoying a quiet moment together. Good thing I still had the long lens on the camera so I could be far away and not disturb them.

They stood still for me too.

I finally got out to the viewing “tower” which was a large, elevated deck overlooking a huge pond. A long way away were hundreds of geese and swans and probably cranes too, all making a lot of noise.

Lots of birds way down there.

I was too tired to walk further in order to get closer, and I figured if I went down there they’d all leave, so I sat on the deck and watched and listened for awhile. And then I changed my lens back to the lighter and shorter version.

The view was pretty from up there. The subtle colors in the fields and marsh looked like an oil painting. But I knew I had over 2 miles to get back to the car and and hour drive home, so I reluctantly started back.

Not as flamboyant as the maples but just as pretty.

Glancing to my left I stopped as a doe and I stared at each other. She was several yards away from me, but well within range if I still had my long lens on the camera.

She showed me her white tail of alarm as she ran the other way.

Darn. Missed again.

The walk back was faster, mostly because I was focused on not taking any more pictures! Well, maybe one more. And that over there is stunning. But no more!

And then the sun came out.

The world began to glow.

I couldn’t resist, even though my stomach was rumbling with hunger, and my back ached from carrying the camera, and my poor little finger, still aching from being broken was telling me it was time to stop. I couldn’t resist.

Light is what it’s all about.

But eventually I got back to the parking lot where several cars full of people were contemplating if it was worth it to walk back into the preserve.

Gold trees, blue sky. What’s not to love?

I don’t know…what do you think? Even though I didn’t get one single fabulous wildlife image I still had a great time.

Far far away, but still beautiful.

And I learned a few things.

One, now that I have the lay of the land scoped out, I need to sit in one spot and see what comes by. Walking around only makes the wildlife nervous. Two, I need to leave the camera turned on, lens cap off, and not regret whichever lens I happen to be using.

And three, I need to go up there again before it gets too cold.

Soon all the color will be gone.