Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The farm connection

The perfect campsite; shade but no mud!


Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.

But what was the perfect location?

Why, the farm my mom where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.

The backs of some of the barns, across a soybean field.

I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.

Morning sun makes the barns glow.

So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.

Morning light on a misty soybean field.

If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.

Sunset on the first evening.

Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.

There were more planes than meteors . There are two planes in this shot.

Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.

Clouds begin to encroach on my night.

I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.

The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.

Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.

Sunrise, spectacular in a quiet sort of way.

I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.

A pretty nice set for the story of the Jets and the Sharks.

By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.

Still, the sky seemed clear.

I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.

See that planet up there above the tent? There’s a star or two too.

Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.

Lots of roof lines.

I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.

Ingenuity.

So many memories.

No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.

A good couple of nights on the farm.

A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.

The whole experience was priceless.

An original fence post.


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A photo a week challenge: Attitude

Angry bird

WordPress stopped sending out weekly photo challenges, and though I didn’t post each time they had a suggestion, I did enjoy trying to fulfill the challenge when I could.

Nancy Merrill Photography is sending out challenges now, and when I saw this week’s I knew I had one particular image that showed a certain amount of attitude.


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365 walks

I’m walking a challenge along with Robin over at breezes at dawn and who knows how many other people, each taking a walk every day for an entire year and posting on Facebook (and maybe other places too) each day one photo of what we’ve seen.

It was a great morning for a walk.

I’m a little over 100 days into it. In the beginning it was a bit intimidating, thinking about three hundred and sixty-five walks. But Robin made a good point. Nothing in the rules said how long the walk had to be. And as long as I don’t think about how many I have left to do, as long as I just think about today’s walk, well, it’s all good.

Some days I go for a walk down the road and through my neighborhood. Some days I drive to a park and walk a trail in the woods or a bike path along a lake shore. Once, in bad weather, I took myself to the mall for my walk. No matter where I go there’s always something interesting or pretty or both to capture.

The goldenrod is starting to bloom.

And some days it’s just Katie and me walking around the backyard. She likes those days best lately because it’s been way too hot for her to take a longer walk at any of her favorite parks. She says this will be a great challenge in cooler October or November or even December when the snow will start to fly.

Husband and I stayed out late last night, unusual for us, at an election party where we got to watch the returns come in and cheer when our candidate won the local primary. I’d never done that before, sit with a group of strangers hoping that it all turns out, cheering when it does. I hate politics but this year perhaps the need to become involved will supersede my need to avoid conflict. We’ll see, it certainly is fodder for another blog.

Joe Pye is tucked into all the wet places.

Anyway, I went to bed well after midnight, and Katie was up at her usual 3:30. It was tempting to try to go back to sleep on the sofa after she got the attention she was craving. And I did for a couple hours.

But while it was still morning and the air was reasonably cool I headed out to a park with the intent to walk four miles. I don’t know why four. It just seemed like a nice round number.

Leaning into the sun.

I didn’t want to go. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but Katie was in a mood and I was tired of arguing with her. All in all, the choice between hanging out with a needy dog and going for a walk turned out to be easy.

Leaves already turning?

What a beautiful day! From the parking lot there’s a mile long downhill through a meadow before the bike path turns into the woods. I got a lot of nice pictures out in the open, and then another nice group deeper in the woods. That’s what makes this a great park to walk in…until you have that mile long uphill back to the car.

A splash of unexpected color.

I had a lot of things to think about on this walk, and I hummed (quite loudly as there was no one else there) songs from Fiddler on the Roof, a musical I was lucky enough to see on Saturday evening. If I were a rich man….. A blessing on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov…Tradition!….Anatevka….

I wondered, as I did Saturday night, what kind of welcome Tevye, Golda and their two young daughters would find if they were to arrive in the United States today. Would they be granted entry given their town had been forcibly evacuated? Would the young girls be separated from their parents?

I hate to imagine what might happen to them today. But I also know that their passage to America and their life here wouldn’t have been easy in the early twentieth century either. That’s what makes politics hard; there are so many variables to every decision and policy.

Anyway.

As I walked I tried not to mourn summer. I missed so much of the Michigan summer when I was in Alabama, and suddenly it seems like school is starting and corn is ripening and goldenrod is blooming and summer is almost over.

Bursts of gold in the meadow.

I scolded myself for not being in the moment. After all there are still three weeks of August. And even though there was subtle signs everywhere of the impending fall, there was still plenty of green. Dark green, lime green, green glowing in the sun, green hiding deep in the woods, it’s definitely still summer here.

Light shining through.

Mostly.

So this long, rambling post is sort of a stream of consciousness thing, wrapping everything that’s been going on into one long walk. Talented kids putting on a wonderful performance on Saturday, dedicated people campaigning with all their hearts for a candidate they feel is better than who we have now, all morphed together on a golden Wednesday morning.

There were butterflies everywhere. And me with only my phone for a camera.

Four miles flew by and no concrete conclusions were reached.

Guess I’ll have to go on another walk tomorrow.

Darn.

Two miles out, two miles back.


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On the way there and back

On my way up to the Pigeon River State Forest, three hours away from home, I drove through some of my favorite farm country. Both on the drive up and the drive home four days later I was lucky enough to witness clouds building above beautiful farm country.

I knew you’d want to see (who doesn’t want to look at barns, right?) so I put together a little slide show.

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And even though I know these pink flowers are not native, and are in fact, invasive I couldn’t help but stop and grab a few photos because they’re just so darn pretty.

Pretty but invasive.

How can this be invasive?


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Just a walk in the park

Felt good to be on the path again.


It’s a misty Sunday morning, cool compared to Alabama where I’ve been, and the chest pains seem to be a memory. Oh the back still aches, but it’s a more muted pain now, so it seemed a good time to take a walk.

Just to see if activity stirred things up again.

Wasn’t planning on getting off the path anyway.

With a hint of rain hovering over me I headed down the bike path at a local park. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t take Katie-girl, and she would have enjoyed the cool breeze.

Heck. She enjoys going to a park anywhere any time.

Sweet smelling milkweed

Still, I wanted to walk at a pace that wouldn’t agree with her. No time for sniffing every plant you know. But don’t tell her I stopped to take a few photos.

I guess my picture taking is similar to her plant sniffing.

So many shades of green!

Hardly anyone was out there so early on a rainy morning. I took advantage of that to jog a few steps. Very few because though walking didn’t do much to up the pain level, jogging seemed more problematic.

I guess it’s been awhile.

Yellow flowers lead up to my favorite tree.

It was only two miles, but it was a pretty two miles and I’m glad I went. My back still aches, but my chest didn’t hurt.

I’d say that’s progress.

Purple accents a good morning.


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Ever wonder what there is to do at the lake?

Yes it’s peaceful here on the lake. You might even say it’s tranquil. Nothing to do but watch the weather move overhead.

A summer storm blows through almost every afternoon.

Perhaps take a morning paddle.

Headed out to the mountains.

Maybe toward evening take the ski boat out to the big waters to see the sunset.

This particular evening there were many facets of a single setting sun.

If you go way out there you need to sit awhile and soak it all in.

The other side of the lake had less color but just as much drama.

But mostly you putter around close to the house, perhaps exploring just up the creek in the canoe.

Let’s go see what’s over there.

And sometimes, if all your siblings and their significant others show up at the same time…well…you just need to goof off.

Having fun on the lake one warm evening.

No matter what advanced age you achieve…when you’re all together you can still be kids.

One…two…three…JUMP!

And that’s what I’ve been up to this week after the 4th of July. Katie and I will be heading north soon. She says she likes the lake house and wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of the summer. But I remind her that we have camping (and weeding) to do and so she says she’s OK with going home too. As long as the northern house has an air conditioning vent for her to sleep on she’s not so particular.

Stay tuned as our adventure continues.

One of my favorite spots.


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Happy Birthday United States!

Shaping up to be a pretty night on the lake.

Last night I got to enjoy a wonderful show of colorful fireworks from a boat floating on the warm waters of a beautiful lake. We left the house about an hour before sundown, but the sky was already turning the thunderclouds pink.

Pink clouds herald what’s to come.

And as we motored out to join hundreds of other boats the pink just kept getting deeper…

Lots of boats already out there.

…and deeper…until this was the sky we floated under as we waited for the man-made show to start.

Nature’s fireworks competed with anything man could shoot into the sky.

Soon enough the sun slid below the horizon, turning the sky midnight blue. Hundreds of people sitting in softly rocking boats settled in to wait for the show.

Blue hour on the lake.

I don’t have a lot of fireworks images. I was in moving boat with little light. Plus it was just so much fun to watch without trying to capture it all.

This was the clearest image of the few I took.

You can use your imagination to fill in the big booms and the bright lights.

A windy rainstorm was blowing in and above the bursting fireworks pinkish heat lightening was showcasing the clouds in huge arcs. In the middle of the show, over the boat’s radio, came a severe weather alert warning of strong winds and possibly hail. We began to consider heading for home.

Abstract photo of boats heading home after the show. Taken from our rocking boat.

We were lucky, though, the storm held off for a couple of hours. The fireworks were able to finish with a grand finale, and we made it back to the house with time to eat pie on the back deck before the rains poured down.

Heat lightening filled the sky after the last of the fireworks faded, and boats began scuttling for home.

It was a lovely evening and I thank Captain Carl for taking us out to see man and God’s lights fill the sky.

Happy birthday America!


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Lake living – the view from here

Sometimes the clouds just glow.


I am sitting in the living room, keeping one eye on the big picture window that overlooks the lake and the other on my computer screen. With any sign of movement out there the window gets my entire attention.

The doggy jet ski just went by!

I mean, what’s the point of living on the lake if you’re not watching it? Early in the morning the first thing I do every day is check the lake and the sky above it to see whether there’s anything interesting yet.

Morning earlier this week when the moon was full.

There almost always is.

Woman and her dog take a paddleboat ride while fish jumps in joy.

In fact, my Facebook friends are probably tired of getting that early (and sometimes not so early) morning image of the lake outside my window. But I never tire of it.

Summer slide waits for storm clouds to dissipate.

Oh sometimes, perhaps once every couple of days, I leave my picture window and get out on the water. Sometimes we fly out to the ‘big water’ in the ski boat to see what’s new. Perhaps to bob in the warm water and watch the sunset unrestrained by landscape.

Sunset on the ‘big water.’ Picture taken by my sister from our boat.

More often it’s just me and my little kayak that venture out, either in early morning or late afternoon. Sometimes even as the sun is going down, always in search of something beautiful.

An evening paddle.

The lake never disappoints me.

Early night boat wake as the last of the sunset disappears.

So I’m sharing random photos of life on the lake. Just things I’ve seen and captured, moments in time all revolving around sky and water and weather.

Crazy skies over a lake playground.

Sometimes I’m sitting at the house, watching the world go by.

Two guys in their kayaks enjoy a summer day.

Sometimes I’m out in the water letting the sky point the way.

Late evening light as we head home in the boat.

I don’t think there’s a better way to live than on water, any kind of water. A river, a pond, a lake, an ocean. Water changes all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to get the camera (which is rarely far from me) and by the time I get the lens cap off the light has changed, the boat has moved, the sun or moon has ducked behind a cloud.

Just as I’m typing this the sky changed from bright blue with white clouds piling up to pouring down rain. Honest…it was sunny as I was typing the previous sentence and now I can’t see across the lake. Good thing I went down to the dock and got the last image down at the bottom of the post when I did.

An afternoon swim is always good too.

The moment is lost.

A little rain cools things off and never sticks around for long.

I’m always sad for an instant, but then remember that I was thrilled to have seen it at all. Sometimes I even go for a walk or a paddle without a camera, just to prove to myself that I am capable of enjoying the sights without recording them all.

Clouds and water make for a perfect evening.

But that’s very hard for me. I seem to see almost everything as a series of images. Sometimes I can’t help myself but to point out something to the people I’m with. The angle of a tree, the light behind a building, the shape of a cloud.

Trees frame a visitor to our dock.

My family usually just nods and smiles as they indulge me. So here I am, sharing with you, these random water and sky images. Because I can’t help myself.

I hope you’ll indulge me too.

Clouds gather every afternoon before our daily rain.


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When truck safety visits the lake

Heading out before the sun sets.

As most of you know I volunteer for a nonprofit that works on truck safety issues. It’s made up of volunteers, most of which have either survived a crash with a large commercial truck or have had family or friends killed in a crash with a truck.

We get together in Washington D.C., usually to fight some piece of legislation that we feel will make our roads less safe than they are now. And every other year we meet there for a conference called Sorrow to Strength where we learn how to make change and where we spend days in meetings with our Members of Congress and the DOT and other agencies that make or enforce rules surrounding trucks.

It’s pretty stressful.

We’ve often talked about wanting to spend time with each other when we’re not working, not talking endlessly about our losses, not overcome with grief, not walking up and down Capitol Hill until our feet ache to match our hearts.

Lots of big puffy white clouds began to turn pink.

Three years ago some of us were able to meet in Maine. We had a wonderful time sitting around eating lobster and talking around a campfire until late into the evening.

Huge mounds of cloud build up to the South.

And this past weekend a few of the volunteers came here to Lake Martin. It felt good to be together in a less stressful place. It felt good to host them in Dad’s home. It was like having a big family reunion. In fact it was a family reunion, because these people are my truck safety family. They are people who know better than anyone what it’s like to get that call. What it’s like to be in the car.

What it’s like.

We ate too much and lazed around in the sun. We hung out together, thankful that we have each other while wishing we didn’t belong to the family at all.

And then they all turned pink.

Swimming, water skiing, just floating in the warm waters of the lake was so much fun. Even climbing the mountain and then the fire tower in the Alabama heat was fun. There were hugs and lots of laughter, and even a few tears when my sister played Amazing Grace on her bagpipes at sunset.

Headed back North the sky was entirely different.

We took pictures, of course, of us goofing off in the water, climbing the mountain and the fire tower, eating and laughing. But I need to maintain everyone’s privacy, so rather than show you those photos I’ve used last night’s sunset images throughout this post.

Floating in pink and gold.

I was out in my kayak and the sky was amazing. Sort of like spending the weekend with my truck safety family.

Simply amazing.

And then the moon came up.