Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Reunion in the woods

After more than a year of near isolation, this week I was finally able to travel to Ann Arbor to visit my Aunt. We used to get together regularly, to attend concerts and theater, to walk in gardens or around her neighborhood. But since February of 2020 we’ve only connected on the phone.

Backlit may apple blossom hiding under the leaves.

But we’re both fully vacinated and when the CDC lifted some restrictions we both felt comfortable meeting for a walk through the woods.

I’m not sure what this plant is. It was tall, with small leaves on the flower stem, but larger leaves at the ground.

She said she’s been walking at a metropark and that the dogwood was gorgeous this year. I hadn’t noticed dogwood in my woods yet so I was excited to see it for myself.

The yellow flowers were beautiful around this bench.

It was a Monday, when most people were working, so we had the woods to ourselves. The sun was shining, and it was warm enough to take off the sweatshirt early in our walk.

Happy little violets were tucked away everywhere.

We had such a lovely time, chatting and bringing each other up to date on things we’d been doing during the pandemic year.

Little vignettes like this were easy to find.

The woods glowed for us, with trillium….

Not the sweeping waves of trillium of last week, but elegant in it’s own way.

…and wild geranium….

Such a simple shape, but so pretty.

…and even several jack in the pulpit plants!

A clump of 4, two facing each way.

But it was the dogwood that stole the show. It was everywhere toward the end of our walk. I loved the shapes…

A hint of color, but a distinctive shape in silhouette.

I loved the color.

I loved the optimism that dogwood provides, proof summer is on the way.

Dogwood lined the bike path.

Everything in the woods that day made me smile, but what made me smile the most was finally spending time with my Aunt. That’s priceless.

Into the woods.


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When all you can do is take a walk

I was lucky enough to get my first covid vaccine yesterday. Health workers at the clinic were congratulating people as they were being injected. The air crackled with optimisim. I felt optimistic too.

Hey everybody, what’s that up there?

But this morning, with a very sore arm and unable to sleep I began to scroll through Facebook. I got tangled up in reading about Georgia’s new voting rules, put into effect by it’s governor yesterday. Feelings of optimisim began to fade.

I know I’m beautiful.

This isn’t going to be a political post, suffice it to say I don’t see how these new rules can be viewed as anything but voter supression. But I know there are others out there with different opinions.

Anyway. I got so depressed scrolling that I finally just up and left the house. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, but I ended up where I usually go when I’m needing some alone outside time.

I really want to come get a treat, but I’m too cool to sit on your hand.

We had torrential rains this morning, but the rain was letting up as I got to Kensington. Because the weather had been so bad there were very few other people there. The wind was brisk, the air heavy with the last of the rain.

It was cold.

I kind of felt like I shouldn’t head out on a hike around the lake. After all, what would I see? But I dug out my hat and gloves and, putting my head down, headed out anyway. Going home didn’t seem a good option.

The titmouse grabs a treat while Mr. ‘too cool to sit on your hand’ watches.

And I’m glad I went for that walk. Pictures here are straight from the camera today, none are edited. They aren’t anything you haven’t seen from me before, but they are a few of my favorites, and the reason I began to smile even in the rain, even with my sore arm.

Well hi there!

Even if the country still seems terribly divided, even if covid is spiking in my state again.

And by the time I left the park four hours later the sun was breaking through the clouds and the sky was blue. I even put my gloves back in my pocket.

Cutest little titmouse ever!

Kensington succeeded at raising my spirits, as it always does. I hope each of you has a place like this to go when you have a bad day. And if you don’t, I hope these images help just a little.

I’m happy to share them with you.

Turns out it was a beautiful day!


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Smiling in between

In between the Atlanta mass shooting and the Boulder mass shooting I spent a wonderful day wandering in the woods at the Shiawasee Nature Preserve. I was one of only 3 people out there enjoying the acres and acres of wetlands, old dykes, ponds, trees, and birds.

Lots and lots and lots of birds.

I don’t have editing capabilities right now, so no cropping, no lightening of shadows. No enhancements of any kind. I have so many pretty things to show you from this walk.

Later, I promise.

For now, here’s one image straight from the camera, of a tree and it’s eight eagles of assorted ages.

This is as close as I could get to them. I need a longer lens. Still, when is the last time you saw eight eagles enjoying a morning sunbath?

Me either.

So that walk was my smile of the week. Thank you, Trent, for keeping us grounded in smiles while we navigate these times.


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Take a walk with me. But bring the map.

As you know I’m in Alabama. You’d think it would be warm being in the South, and it sort of is. It’s warmer than up where I came from. But it’s not really warm.

Looking at both sides.

I arrived late Friday night. Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday the sky brightened and turned into big puffy white and grey clouds and it got way up into the 60s! I just knew I had to take advantage of the weather, so I headed over to Smith Mountain.

The beginning of the fire road around the mountain. One of Katie’s favorite places to walk. Mine too.

You’ve heard me talk about Smith Mountain before. You can climb up the mountain and then climb up a fire tower that sits on top of the mountain and you have a glorious view of Lake Martin.

From another year, another hike up the mountain.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I didn’t do that on Sunday.

No, Sunday the parking lot was full of cars when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with a fire tower filled with masked or unmasked people. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to climb the mountain.

So I took the walk around the base of the mountain. It’s one of Katie’s favorite places to walk, a big fire road that circles around to the back of the mountain.

The water is low, but the area behind the mountain is still beautiful.

She and I never tried to go all the way around the mountain, because I wasn’t sure if the road actually did that and I didn’t want to get stuck with her and have to make her walk all the way back. So we usually turned around on the backside of the mountain.

She was never happy about turning around.

Little stuff caught my attention too.

So this time I thought I’d just see if the road (which I used as a trail, though it is not part of the trail system, went all the way around. It made sense that it might end up right back at the parking lot.

Lots of interesting shapes and colors.

I was so confident I didn’t look at the map posted at the beginning. I figured it would all work out. I also didn’t take any water. And I accidently left my phone in the car. But I had my camera, so all was good. Right? Of course right!

Such pretty colors on Sunday!

I stopped and got lots of pictures, and when I got to the spot where Katie and I always turned around I figured since the road/trail continued, a nice wide path that had obviously been used, I’d just keep going too.

Hmmmm, are the clouds looking kind of stormy?

Eventually I got to a spot that said “To the tower this way,” and “To the parking lot this way.” Bingo! The parking lot was only .4 miles away! (disclaimer, I was already sort of tired and was disappointed it was .4 miles away, I figured it should be around the next corner.)

This looks promising!

So I kept going on the nice wide path, covered in pine needles. Which got narrower and narrower and there were no more signs and it didn’t seem to be going in the direction that I thought the parking lot should be.

Eventually I saw a pink mark on a tree, and I thought “GOOD! At least I’m on some sort of trail. Maybe I can figure out where this goes!”

Is this trail really going anywhere I want to go?

But shortly after that I saw houses off in the distance where there should be no houses, and water on my left when it should have been on my right. And I knew this was not going to get me to the parking lot. Plus I’d been walking a long time and surely had traveled .4 miles by now.

So I turned around and went back and eventually crossed a trail that had a blue mark painted on a tree and I figured maybe that was a good sign (if I’d looked at the map I’d have known I needed to stay on blue!) Using the sun as a guide for which direction I was going I headed out, hoping it was toward the parking lot.

Maybe THIS is the right way.

A fisherman came the other way and I asked him how far to the parking lot (acting like I KNEW I was on the right path) and he said about half a mile. Sigh. But at least I knew I’d get there eventually!

I see a car!!

When I finally made it to the parking lot I smiled a lot, and then I studied the map, and figured I had taken some of the blue trail, some of the fire road, some of the pink trail and a whole lot of who knows what. I wasn’t at all sure where I’d been, but it sure had been pretty!

When I finally got home I had sweated through my shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I opened all the windows, and enjoyed the lovely breeze.

After a long drink of water I decided to download the pictures, and noticed that the memory chip that belongs in my camera was sitting on the kitchen table. Which meant it wasn’t in my camera during that walk. Sigh. Double sigh.

I was really sad.

Monday it was very cold, no sun, sleet and rain. No walking around the mountain for me.

But Tuesday, oh Tuesday was bright and sunny! Not a cloud in the sky. I set out for the mountain, determined to retake the best of the pictures I’d gotten on Sunday. And ready to figure out the right way to walk around the mountain.

OK. Here’s the map. I’m sure you’d have had no trouble figuring this out. But most of the fire road isn’t even ON this map.

I studied the map again before I started out. I even took a picture of it in case I needed it out in the field. I am a slow learner, but I eventually figure it out. The fire road isn’t on the map, but it connects two sections of the blue trail and you need to stay on the blue trail to get back to the parking lot…except when it’s a white trail. Either way, DO NOT GET ON THE PINK TRAIL.

Tuesday was windy, with no clouds. The tall pines were waving in the breeze.

And just before I started I checked my camera to make sure the memory card was in there. And remembered this new camera has 2 slots for 2 memory cards. And guess what? There were two memory cards in there.

It was a beautiful day, not as warm as Sunday, so I wore my winter coat.

Which means there was probably a memory card in the camera on Sunday. Which means that the pictures I took on Sunday were probably on that other card. Which means that I really didn’t have to walk around the mountain again.

Pretty stuff everywhere. But pay attention to where you are this time.

Except I really wanted to prove to myself that I could figure out the right trail.

So I did.

And here’s what I learned. It might apply to life in general too.

When you come to an choice of paths to take and there are no signs, and one path seems easier, wide and sunny and covered with soft pine needles, and the other path looks tough, uphill, rocky and narrow, take the harder path, and look for signs that you’re on the right one.

This is where I made my mistake on Sunday. See that path to the left? I never saw it. The sign that says parking lot .4 miles? It has an arrow that points slightly UP. The correct path is the one on the left. The easy path is the one on the right. But that takes you to the PINK trail! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The easier path will never get you where you need to go.

And that’s the truth. Every place I had to make a decision, if I took the easier choice I never saw a blue (or any) mark on a tree denoting the correct trail. So I’d backtrack and try the other option and there would be that comforting mark.

Even when it seems like you need to be a mountain goat, follow the harder path, it’s the right one.

Every single time if I took the harder option I soon learned I was on the right trail.

Keep your eye out for trail markings, those blue rectangles mean you’re heading in the right direction.

Let that be a lesson for us all.

If you just look there are always signs to point you on your way.

And may you always find your way, following your own personal markers in life.

Signs of spring.

PS: Happy birthday, Dad. I’m at your house, adventuring in some of your favorite places. I know you’re with me. But you would have looked at the map first. I know. Lesson learned. 🙂


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Into the woods we go

So. Let me see, where was I? Ah yes, casually racewalking into the woods. I had left the more traveled path behind, along with with the pesky turkeys. If only real life could be that easy.

I couldn’t ask for a prettier day.

It was quiet back there, and the sun was shining down on me walking silently on a cushy bed of fallen oak leaves. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Oak leaf caught in sunlight.

I notied a lot of green shining in the morning light, even though all the summer’s leaves had long since dropped.

Nature’s art was everywhere.

I wanted to get a good shot of some moss. It was hard to get it in focus and I’m not sure I succeeded, but if you just think of it as abstract art you’ll be fine.

I enjoyed the delicate green enjoying the sun.

I finally got myself back on my feet and headed down the path again when a slight movement caught my eye off to the right.

She’d been watching me while I was busy with the moss.

She wasn’t very far off the trail, just enjoying the sunlight and chewing her cud and she wasn’t disturbed by my being near at all. I whispered that she shouldn’t get up, she telepathed back she hadn’t planned on it, and I quietly moved along.

Enlarge this image. How many faces do you see? I never saw the others until I looked at this on a big screen.

Her eyes followed me, and then she turned her head away. At the time I thought she was pulling a Katie – – not wanting to look at the camera unless there was something in it for her. I even said “You little stinker” as I took the shot above. Turns out that she had just noticed something else and had written me off as nonthreatening.

I was working to get this closeup of some fungi when I heard footsteps approaching. Thinking it was the deer, I glanced over my shoulder.

Fungi art.

It wasn’t the deer, just another woman walking through the woods. I asked her if she had seen the doe, and she looked confused, then said no, she was too busy with her own thoughts. I smiled and she walked on by. I’m pretty sure the doe saw her, and that was what made her turn her attention away from me.

Another photographer, going the opposite direction. I’m sure HE saw the deer just around that next corner.

I didn’t see many people on those back trails. When we did meet we generally just nodded or said a quiet “good morning.” It was sort of like being in church.

I got to an intersection. I had another choice to make. I could go straight and be back at the car in 15 or 20 minutes. Or I could turn left and make another large loop up and down some hills and through a meadow and a wetland. I almost headed back, I was certain that was what I was going to do. My neck and back were getting tired from carrying the camera with the long lens. I was hungry. I had pictures of large birds and a doe.

Light shining through yesterday’s leaf.

My work was done for the day.

But I stood and studied the map considering. And then I turned left. Almost instantly I hear the familiar sound of wings near my head. Interesting. I never have birds begging on these back trails. There are very few people and the birds aren’t as trained.

Seriously hungry here lady, toss me something good!

But lucky for them I happened to have quite a bit of seed left in my pocket, seed those pesky turkeys didn’t get. A few little birds came down for a treat. The woodpecker stayed around begging but waited till I left him something on the ground to grab lunch.

The path led past one of my favorite benches, though I’ve never sat there. I just think it’s in a pretty spot.

A nice place to sit in the winter, in the summer you’d be a meal for the mosquiteos!

Then the trail burst out of the woods into the sunshine of a grassy meadow. I thought this made a lovely shot.

The beautiful day in all it’s forms shone everywhere.

And as I made my way to the meadow I found a couple of birdwatchers looking for something special. I hope they found it!

“What’s that over there?”

They obviously weren’t looking for this little guy, as he was right behind them. He came down for a bit of a snack after they moved on.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!

The trail took me back toward the road, and when I got out there I noticed a tree I had seen on my drive in. It was covered with ornaments and I’d thought I’d stop there on my drive out after my walk. But it wasn’t that far away, maybe about a quarter mile. And I was right there.

I decided to change to the short lens and walk over there. After all, who knew what the light would be like by the time I was driving past it later? So there in the woods I switched lenses and then I walked out of the woods and down along the road toward the tree.

I don’t know what the significance is of this tree, there’s no sign. But it was pretty.

As I got closer I realize not all the sparkles were baubles. The trees were filled with bluebirds! And me with the short lens on the camera. I stopped right there on the side of the road and switched back to the long lens. Still, the birds were flitting back and forth, up and down from the tree to the ground. I’d catch a flash of brillant blue, but couldn’t get the bird in focus.

He has an acorn cap in his beak.

Finally one dropped down to the ground and stayed there long enough for me to capture him. He was adorable! Then he took off with that acorn cap and I reflexively shot.

He still has the acorn cap in his bill.

I got some of him in focus accidently. But I was thrilled just to see them all there on a mid-December day.

After the bluebirds left I concentrated a bit on the tree itself.

Pretty in the sunlight.

There was another tree across the street decorated all in fishing lures an bobbers. I have no idea why, but it also was pretty.

A fishing theme far away from the lake.

After the bluebird interlude I put the short lens back on the camera and headed back into the woods to finish my trek back to the car. As I got closer to the nature center the little birds began swarming my head. They were quite insistant. So of course I had to take the obligitory picture of a bird in the hand.

“HEY! That was the biggest peanut and it was MINE!”

Or, in this case, two birds in the hand.

The big hawks were gone when I walked past their trees. I wondered which photographers were patient enough to wait for them to lift off in flight. That would have made a cool photo too. But I was happy with my menagerie of images. Plus I’d gotten over 3 miles of walking in.

Liftoff!

Choices, choices. Every choice has some kind of consequence, good or bad. I think I made the right choices on Friday when I visited my favorite park.

Don’t you?

Follow youe heart, you never know what you’ll find.


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Choices

For months I’ve been watcing a Facebook page filled with wonderful professional and amature photographs of Michigan birds and wildlife. Lots of them have been taken at Kensington, my favorite park, and each time I see something amazing that was shot there I vow to get myself out the door.

The sun was up by the time I got out to the park, but the fog off the lake was still hanging around.

But every morning this week when I’ve considered heading out, I’ve yawned and rolled back over to sleep a couple more hours.

The lighting gave everything a vintage look.

Friday the weather guy said that next week it will be colder and rainier and maybe even snowier than the wonderful weather we’ve been enjoying. I figured if I was going to get going I better get going.

So I did.

Reflections were nice along the shore.

Now my problem is that I have over 300 photos taken on my 3.5 mile walk through the woods. I saw so many different things, any one set of photos could be a blog post. Should I try to share it all with you? Or just a tiny bit? Maybe it will turn into multiple blogs.

Guess we won’t know until I start posting. I will say that you might want to click on the images, because there’s a whole lot of detail you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re reading this on your phone.

If I hadn’t made the choice to get off the sofa I would have missed the golden light that filled my first stop at the park. I stayed there for several minutes, then drove over to the nature trails.

The usual parking lot attendants were apparently off duty, hanging out down near a pond.

When I arrived there the parking lot was half full and I knew I was later than I like to be. I considered heading out in my typical direction, but decided at the last minute to focus on the trails at the back of the park. So I made the choice to turn right instead of left, and almost instantly noticed a whole lot of photographers, complete with very expensive gear, pointing their cameras up.

It was a pretty day to be out with a camera.

When you come across a gagle of photographers it’s best to look where they’re looking. So I did. And this is what I saw first:

A female red tailed hawk, enjoying the morning sun.

I didn’t know what it was for sure, but I knew it was really big and beautiful. Most of the photographers were frustrated because the branches of the tree were hiding her face. I just climbed over a bench and a fence near the nature center to get a different angle.

Then someone said there was another one around the next bend in the trail. Over there were even more photographers, all pointing their huge lenses at a very sleepy, obviously well fed male.

He and his tree were both really beautiful against the blue sky.

I took plenty of pictures, thrilled to be there, in the right place at the right time for once.

He watched the people below him and seemed amused.

I just about skipped back to check on the female, getting a shot from behind that was OK, but not as interesting as this shot from below her.

She’s all puffed up against the chill.

And then she tucked her head under her wing for a quick nap.

Not concerned by all of us at all.

So much excitement and I hadn’t even started my walk yet! So I reluctantly left the big birds and headed out toward the back of the park.

The light was so pretty that morning as the fog burned off.

And almost immediately ran into the merry band of turkeys.

This was the first one I saw. There were probably 10 more wandering in the trees near the trail.

I kept taking pictures because they were so pretty. They weren’t paying much attention to me, and there was a young family complete with kids running around that was approaching from my left. I wanted to get my pictures taken before they arrived.

Look at the difference in coloring between these two!

The family was coming and I wondered if they realized these big birds can be pretty assertive if they figure out you have food.

Isn’t he stunning?

I figured I’d move on before they figured out I had seed in my pocket.

I thought you might want to see these colors up close.

I turned right to go up a path that would connect me with the trail in the back, leaving the birds behind. I was concentrated on this cute squirrel…

Hey lady! Quick, look behind you!

…when I hear multiple pairs of feet rushing toward me.

Hey!!!! Wait for us!!!

Apparently they had figured out the lunch lady was leaving. It was sort of intimidating to have they rush me like that, so I threw two handfuls of seed as far as I could away from me, and race walked (casually of course) to the next corner and turned into the woods. Luckily brush blocked me from their view and I got away.

So what do you think I found in the woods? I guess you’ll have to wait, because this is long enough already. And there’s so much more to see.

Stay tuned.

What? How does this relate to the woods??


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Now for the good images

When last I left you I was being overrun by hungry birds. A few of them might even have been angry birds, but I don’t like to judge.

The new camera did a fabulous job, notice the detail in the feathers!

As I moved further into the woods I noticed I was being followed by lots of little birds. So I stopped again to see who was hungry. Naturally the titmice dropped down immediately.

We have lift-off!

And the chickadees, who were very noisy about waiting for their treats.

“I’m so excited I dropped my peanut!”

But most intriguing was a female red bellied woodpecker who was watching me while keeping some space between the feeding frenzy and her perch high in a tree. Yet…the longer I fed the little ones the closer she got. She’d move to a different tree and then feign indifference as she checked out her new position for any stray bugs. Then she’d move closer.

I decided to ignore her, turned my back and kept feeding the busy little birds. And suddenly …

I wasn’t sure I could trust you, lady, but I’m really hungry.

She watched me for a bit, both of us seemingly holding our breath. Then she picked out her breakfast treat.

You can make this and any image larger by clicking on it. Check out how beautiful her eyes are.

She went up to a nearby tree to eat her peanut, but she was right back for more.

“This peanut looks good.”

Each time she visited my hand she flew off with her prize to enjoy just feet away.

Displaying her red belly and her amazing wingspan.

She came down a total of three times, and I felt like we were becoming best friends. She chased all the little birds away each time she arrived. After her third trip I tossed some seed on the ground for her or anyone else and I moved along.

The little birds were grateful. The blue jays were jubilant, they’d been screaming about being left out for several minutes.

“Than goodness she’s gone! I thought I’d never get anything else to eat!”

I kept playing with the settings on my camera, intent on catching the wing of the birds as they landed and took off again. Each time I fidled with the camera birds became impatient.

“Hey lady, you know little woodpeckers are pretty cool too!”

The blue jays followed me for quite awhile, picking up the leftovers.

They’re pretty, but man they can be noisy!

And a male red bellied woodpecker followed me too. He wanted to come down for a treat. He’d get close, but couldn’t quite make himself do it. My shoulders ached from holding one hand out with seed, and the other hand holding the heavy camera ready just in case

Little stinker would wait until I moved along, then come in for the leftovers.

I guess he figured I wouldn’t leave him out, and I didn’t. I always left him a couple peanuts on the trail.

Least you think I wasn’t paying attention to things other than birds, I assure you there were plenty of pretty things without wings.

I don’t know what these seeds were from, but I thought they were pretty cool.

It’s just that every time I concentrated on something else, every time I rested my tired shoulder and lowered my seed filled hand, someone would fly around my head in protest.

Double incoming!

The day had started out cold and very windy, but as I wandered in the woods the sun broke through, and I warmed up. Trapising up and down hills while being pursued by birds warmed me up too.

A little chickadee ready for takeoff.

I thought about sitting on a bench for awhile, just take it all in.

Morning light on one of my favorite benches.

But there were more and more people wandering in the woods, and I had plenty of pictures to share. Plus, I’d been there a couple hours longer than the original few minutes I had planned on.

Sunshine makes everything art.

So I headed back toward the car…past the crane parking lot greeters who were now wandering down the path. They were much less interested in me than they had been when I arrived, when they almost mugged me for something to eat.

A crain and her shadow.

The sun was out now, the sky a brilliant blue. Part of me wanted to stay, but my shoulders and back ached. And since I had forgotten to eat breakfast before I left home, I was starving too.

It was turning into a beautiful day!

I didn’t think the birds were going to give me anything to eat, so it was time to go. I had a wonderful time even if it wasn’t anything at all like what I had come to find.

That’s the cool thing about this park. No matter what you plan, no matter what actually happens, it’s always going to be beautiful.

Love the heart on her head.


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Abby and me

Katie here. Hey! Bet you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing lately – right? What? You’ve been busy with all the craziness going around, the virus, the election, the weather?

I’m not on your radar?

At a new park!

Huh.

I think mama’s been slipping. I hired her to be my agent, my marketing advisor, and my general manager, but maybe that’s too much for her, what with her being elderly and all.

I might have to reevaluate her contribution to my franchise.

We had a pretty beautiful day to enjoy the park.

I guess I’ll have to tell you about an adventure I had last weekend myself. I can’t believe it’s already a week ago and mama hasn’t put it up on my her blog.

You might remember that last year I got to meet aother sheltie-girl, Abby. We met her and her mom down in Ann Arbor and walked in the Arboretum. We said we’d get together again, but you know how time flies, and here it is a year later and we still hadn’t gotten back together.

This is Abby and her mom Shawn just last weekend.

So I told mom she better get to getting and arrange another walk date with my friend. And you know what? She listened to me and the next thing I know I’m in the car and the ride is much too long for us to be going to my usual parks.

Isn’t she beautiful? She’s 13.

I got kinda nervous, but figured I’d trust mama this time, and I was happy I did. Cause we got out of the car at a beautiful little park in Ann Arbor, and there was Abby and her mom!

It was nice to see Abby again!

Both of us are a year older now and we don’t go on real long walks any more, but this little park was perfect, with lots of places for the moms to sit and talk while we rested.

Abby liked to sit between her mom’s feet.

Well, sometimes we rested, sometimes we asked how long the moms were going to sit around.

I liked to spend our walk breaks checking for treats.

Abby and I were OK with posing for the moms as long as we were maintaining our social distancing. It’s really not that hard, neither one of us understands why people are having such a hard time with this concept.

Abby will pose for NO TREATS! I’m going to have to explain my ‘one shot, one treat’ rule to her.

Anyway, it was really good to see Abby and her mom. We decided we might try to get together again before the weather gets too bad. But knowing mama, that will probably be next spring!

I think our beauty enhanced this park. Dont you?

Abby. She’s so beautiful, she still reminds me of a regal queen. Queen Abby and Princess Katie. We were quite a beautiful sight, as we were told by numerous people out there in the park.

Hanging out together, but not too close together.

People are pretty good at spotting royalty, even when we leave our tiaras at home.

Definitely royality.

Signing off for now,
Park Princess Katie

It’s good to have a girlfriend when you want to go on a walk.


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Haehnle Bird Sancuary

This week I decided to explore a new (to me) bird sancuary over near Jackson Michigan. I’d heard vague things about it over the years, that it was filled with migrating birds, particularly sandhill cranes.

This path leads down to a space where lectures are held.

Every year I meant to get there, either in the spring when the birds were coming back or the fall when they were heading out. Every year time gets away from me.

The day was beautiful, with sunshine and a breeze kicking leaves out of their trees.

So this year I was determined and I did some research before I drove over there. Seems the migration period would be late September to the end of October. I was cutting it pretty close.

Heading away from the wetlands and into the woods.

The website also told me to be there at sunrise or sunset when the birds were moving from or back to their perches for the night. So I had a plan.

But you know how it goes with plans. I got a later start in the morning than I had planned, and it was later in October than optimal too. On the hour and a bit drive I did see a huge flock of sandhills in a field, about 2 miles from my house, but I didn’t stop for pictures because I was going to a bird sanctuary.

A few trees were hanging on to their color.

When I got to Haehnle the parking lot was a muddy mess. Leaves covered everything but it was obvious there were huge muddy holes that you wouldn’t want to drive through. I turned around and backed into a spot up next to a fence where I had a straight shot getting out.

As I left my car to begin exploring I did hear some cranes flying, but it was already almost 9:30, really long past sunrise. There was one flock of geese that flew over, but nothing really special.

In a meadow the sun glinted off the dried weeds.

So I decided to just walk the 1.5 mile trail and not worry about finding birds.

It was a pretty trail, that started out skirting the wetlands where I could imagine thousands of cranes visiting. Then it turned left into the woods.

Walking on all those leaves was fun.

There were still very beautiful colors in a few of the towering trees. The trail meandered through a meadow and then back into the woods. I didn’t see another person until I was almost back to the car. This mother and her two children were enjoying the sunshine and the crisp autumn air.

Taking a walk.

All in all this was quite a disapointment, but I think I will try again in the spring, maybe go at the right time of year and earlier in the day. I figure most of the disappointment was my own making.

The details were beautiful, I just had to look for them.

And the drive over there was often spectacular, roads through golden tree tunnels. You’ll have to imagine those as there was nowhere to safely stop.

This place could be interesting at the right time of year.

Regardless of the lack of birds, I can’t complain about a pretty walk in the woods. And on the way home I found a couple barns.

At the exit where I stopped to get gas.

Because what’s an adventure without a barn?

Not sure what a barn sanctuary is. Maybe I should have explored there.

Why, no adventure at all!

I don’t know what this was, but it was cool.