patch tails

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Can you see it? On this morning’s run, long before my stride stretched out, a growl murmured from my dog’s belly. Her fur mohawk-ed and she veered toward the ditch, nose sniffing gravel and weeds. Attached at the waist, I put on the brakes. I had no desire to be dragged into the wild.

“What is it?”

Aero leaped back and forth, scenting high and low; something had to be there. I took the first photo. Nothing. Wait, what’s that gray thing?

Predator-eyes peered from beneath the ferns, but it was nothing scarier (to me) than a cat. Aero knew a threat was there, but never saw it. Can you?

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patch tails

Three months into our Covid-19 lockdown, my friend Becky said, “I’m tired of cooking! Aren’t you?”

“Mostly I miss our three mornings a week breakfasts at the Sunrise Café.” (During the tourist-off-season, we do our part to help the local economy.) “I’m tired of figuring out what to make.”

Andy must have overheard our telephone conversation. The next morning he offered to cook breakfast.

“Ready for your gruel?” he said, pulling me away from my FaceBook scrolling. At our places, he set small portions of oatmeal with a patriotic side of blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. “After this I’ll fry us up a couple of eggs. For protein.”

A man smiles into the camera across a wood table, on which are set a plate with blueberries, strawberries, and banana slices, and a small bowl of oatmeal and spoon on a placemat.

A flash of orange and a knock against the window drew our attention. A Baltimore Oriole gripped the window sill, tapped his beak against the pane, and gave each of us a side-eye.

“Hmmm. I wonder if the grape jelly is gone,” I stood up to see and the bird flew off. “Yep, it’s all gone.”

“I’ll bet he just wants more,” Andy said.

Two spoonfuls later, the oriole flew back to have breakfast with us.

An orange Baltimore Oriole sits on a small plate on a porch railing. On the plate is a half an orange and some grape jelly. In the background is green grass.

 

Categories: Andy, patch tails, wildlife | 2 Comments

a late april run with my dog

 

in a weepy wood
owl lights upon a limb
none but me he sees

 

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patch tails

 

“I’ll come out and help you shovel,” Andy said. Maybe three inches of fresh snow, not enough for the snowblower.

“I want to do it myself.”

“Stop trying to protect me. I can still do things.”

“It’s not that. I like to do it; it’s like meditation. I need to empty my mind. Besides, there’s great satisfaction in seeing the results.”

He let me be.

Sunshine peaked through old oaks across the street. Yesterday’s grocery run into town left subtle tire indents under the glistening expanse. The snow is puffy light, but the blue plastic shovel catches on the packed tracks. I skim over them. Back and forth, empty mind.

snowshoveling

One-third cleared and words jumble into thought. Shoveling snow is like writing a memoir. A clean and white (yet sparkling) slate, something more hints through. The first layer peels easy until you hit a snag. How much effort do you put in to excavate the past? I elect to slide over it and let the warming sun melt the rest. It is okay to accept what was. And let it go. Words drift as I complete my task.

Inside, I open an email from a subscribed writer’s blog. “In Need of Release: Finding The End of an Essay” by Sandra A. Miller. She argues that an essay is done when the reader connects and is loosened by the writer’s words. I read, yet her words tighten me. Why, you ask? Miller ponders her ideas whilst shoveling her driveway!

Her last paragraph:

Once I had finally removed the light, top layer, I struck ice, intractable with the freezing temperature. But I knew in the morning the sun, warm and persistent, would reach the pavement, eventually releasing what, in that moment, wouldn’t move.

 

Were my shoveling thoughts my own? Or did her words sift through before I even read them?

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(April) fool’s hike

mountaineer3      mountaineer2

 

mountaineer1

 

 

 

 

 

 

at winter’s perish, we trot

an all-day pace

leashed in line like mountaineers straining for upper attitudes,

young one before

the other,

old boy behind

paws paws pat patting in time, tags jangle

every stride chasing shadows

 

 

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past peak

goldtrail

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

They told us, “Colors will be past peak,
you should have come last week.” No room
last week was busy
and it rained.

This week we packed
flannel-lined jeans and base layers,
hiking boots, a few t-shirts,
our heavy winter coats. After all
it is the UP
it could snow.

Gus kept an eye on us loading up the car.
In went his bag filled with bowls, treats
and food for a week. He was quick
to jump in the back seat

and out
when we arrived. Water!
A black lab streak to the big lake.
He shook sand free
beneath the unseasonably
warm sun.

We took short hikes on park trails, carefully
placing each footfall
between
roots and rocks, balancing
between
yesterday and tomorrow.

Like gold doubloons
wind-blown leaves buried
the forest floor. It was true. Colors
a bit past peak. Not unlike
ourselves.

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finding peace on the Highbanks Trail

November 15, 2015

Opening day. Shots ring out at daylight and continue through the day. The next two weeks are not the best time to muck about in the park woods beyond our property.

We decide to hike on the Highbanks Trail from Lumberman’s Monument, along the mighty AuSable River.

A from above view of a glass-like river, flowing around a jutting of land from left to right. A pine tree is in the foreground on the left, a scrubby sand dune dips to the river on the right. The river is bluer than the clear sky. In the far background, as far as you can see, are pine forests and leaf-less hardwood trees.

The AuSable.

We weren’t the only one with this idea, but most of the walk Gus was free to run.

A black lab dog is running toward the camera on a leaf-strewn path. His ears are floppy and his eyes are a golden brown.

Gun runs back to make sure we’re still coming.

The water was glass, the air still. The sun was too warm for base layers.

Something about this water calms my soul.

A view from the top of a sand dune. The calm blue water of the river is in the distance, with pine trees reflecting from the far shore.

Sand dune to the water.

We share an old joke, that we’ve found the Appalachian Trail, a throw-back to our first adventure. Back then, naive as we were, we anticipated that trail to be like this one, with gentle hills, a leaf and pine needle covered walkway with no roots to catch our toes.

A man wearing blue jeans, a blue-checked shirt and a blue vest, with a green tilly hat on his head, walks away from the camera on a leaf-strewn trail, using a walking stick in his right hand. The man is looking down at the trail. A black lab dog walks along on his right side, head down sniffing the trail, tail wagging. On both sides are pine trees.

A man and his dog. At 71, he paces easily with his walking stick.

Gus barges ahead to scout.

The siloquette of a black lab dog looking right on a shadowed trail under pine trees.

Checking out the trail ahead.

He never lingers out of sight, and covers twice the ground that we do.

A black lab stands in the distance on a wooded trail, looking back toward the camera. He is standing near to a large pine tree on the right.

“Come on!”

My soul finds peace here, among the pines, joy embodied in a dog’s pant.

Gus gallantly leads the way…

The same man is walking up a hill, with the black lab walking just ahead of him. The sun is shinging through the trees above the man's head.

Into the sun.

…but pauses to make sure I’m still in sight.

The man is still walking ahead, the black lab has stopped to look back, he is facing right.

“You still coming?”

Yes, I am.

It reassures me to know that no matter what happens in our busy, human world, the river flows.

Between several tall trees is a glimpse of the river far below.

A window to the mystical AuSable.

Who cannot be happy here?

A close shot of a black lab standing with his front feet on a stump, his head is close to the camera and he is looking to the left with his mouth open.

Happy dog.

On the way back, I take the less-worn path, up along a ridge. Andy takes the lower path.

Gus is torn. He follows me. At first. He races back to find Andy. Seconds later he returns, ever vigilant as to where Andy walks below. At the crest of the dune, Gus sees him. He races down and back.

A black lab stands facing left, his head held high and his tail straight out. He is standing on a sandy path that leads up to a sand dune. Two tree turnks are on the left.

Gus knows that Andy is near.

Somehow, Gus and I get ahead. “Find Andy,” I say, and Gus turns back.

The man is walking toward the camera on the wide leaf-strewn path. On the left are pine trees, on the right is a stone wall winding off into the distance.

Andy meets us along the trail.

Lumberman’s Monument honors the hard-working men who came before.

The sun shines through tall pine trees on the right. To the left, some distance away is a large statue of three lumberman.

The Lumberman.

We are glad for our packed lunch after the hike, on this rare and warm November afternoon.

A woman wearing a blue fleece top is standing behind a picnic table where a man is sitting. He is wearing a blue checked shirt and a blue vest. Both are wearing glasses. On the table in front of them is a water bottle, hats, and some sandwiches. Large pine trees are in the background.

Andy and I.

A good idea.

Categories: Andy, dogs | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

sweet woods

A path of oak leaves leads through a thick green forest.

 

 

late August and the sweet, deep woods dripped

shades of green, speckled orange

mushrooms pushed through rain-soaked oak leaves

overnight

and grew shawls of white mould

 

 

 

I wanted the sweetness to be sweet

grass waving in the northern field

I wanted the humidity to be curling

smoke waved overhead

at a native prayer ceremony

 

instead, leaves already lying

on the forest floor, all I could smell

was the fading perfume of funeral

flowers

 

A small white moth is lying on its back on a brown leaf, it's legs folded inward above it's body.

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the gleaming

An early morning shot in a summer, green forest. In the left foreground is a spider web haning from a low branch in the shape of an upside down parachute. In the background out of focus are a few more similar webs. There are ferns and the trunks of trees, all is green with the morning sun shining at the camera.

morning mist reveals

basket spider parachutes

stealthy invasion

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this time…

A shadow of a person on a recumbent bicycle is reflected on a paved road. There is green grass and weeds along the side of the road in the background.

One early evening I took a bike ride.

 

Twenty-two miles, more or less. The cool air felt icy against my hill-driven sweat.

 

A black and white shot of a rolling road going into the distance in the country. Along the right side of the road is a long row of telephone poles--the wires stretched between them are shining from the sun that is low in the horizon.

Rose City Road, heading west.

 

As typical, not too much traffic, most of which (less than a half-dozen) were along the four miles I traveled on this road.

 

A landscape shot of a golden field. The horizon is treelined. There are two deer barely visible against the trees.

In the distance…there, by the treeline. Can you see them?

 

Off the traffic road, traffic turned natural. One deer ran out of the ditch toward these woods as I approached.

 

A zoom in shot of the two white-tailed deer by the trees. Both are facing the trees, but the one on the left has looked back toward the camera with it's tail up.

There they are!

A black and white landscape shot of a huge dead tree in the middle of a field. There are trees in the background. In the sky is the moon to the left of the tree, and a large black bird is flying off to the right.

My often-photographed tree from the east this time.

 

The setting sun was in my face. I turned to look back. It was a good time to change views.

 

A closeup shot of a bright yellow flower. The background is dark and out of focus.

And in the ditch…

A closeup shot of a pink flower from the side. In the background are two petal-less flowers out of focus.

…are flowers, worshiping the sun.

 

A splotch of wild-flowers catches my eye as a last sunbeam brightens their colors. Who would not stop here?

 

A long-distance shot of a corn field that has just been harvested. You can see rows of the cut off stalks lead into the distance. The terrain is rolling. The background is a dark green forest. There are three deer barely visible. One is on the far left and is facing away with its head down. The one in the middle is most visible, he is standing at the crest of the hill looking at the camera and has antlers. The third deer is closer to the camera by just a bit and is facing the camera full on, with antlers, but blends into the corn row.

Three more. Can you see them all?

 

I stop because I spotted the deer on the left. It wasn’t until I uploaded this shot at home that I finally saw the third deer on the right!

 

A black and white landscape shot of a mowed field with trees in the background. The weeds in the foreground cast long shadows from the setting sun. In the field there are two specks which are really coyotes!

This time…

A close up shot of the two coyotes in color in the field. The color is yellow from the evening sun. The coyote on the left is moving away from the camera. The coyote on the right is standing broadside to the camera, but looking at me. They are beautiful, healthy looking big animals.

…I had my camera!

 

COYOTE! We saw one a week or so before, not too far from here. This time there were two. And I had my camera.

 

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