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: , , , , | 4 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.

Categories: poetry | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Categories: bicycle ride, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

not a gardener, but…

Year three of our garden.

More rain this year has given us tomatoes and peppers galore.

I might have to do this again next year.

A wicker basket is filled with red tomatoes and green peppers just picked from our garden.

Destined for dinner.

A baking pan filled with stuffed green peppers, topped with Mozerella cheese.

YUM!

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Bison bike ride

Andy and I took a 15 mile ride on rolling roads around the patch yesterday. I could begin to love summer again with temps below 80.

Look who we came across…

In the foreground is a 4" wire fence with a sign posted to the right. Blue letters state that there is no shooting of the animals is allowed. Coming into view, and out of focus, is a large brown bufallo, with a baby following behind her.

Momma stomped out of the woods to greet me at the fence.

A close up shot of the nose of a buffalo against a 4" wire fence.

FEED ME!

I pulled shocks of long grasses and wild flowers and offered them through the fence. She raked them away with her thick, rough tongue. I imagined steam puffing out of her nose; she breathed so heavily Andy could hear her from twenty feet away.

A close up shot of the side of the buffalo's face--the eye has a fly near the tear duct, the horn is sticking up at the center of the frame, and you can see the wiry hair around the ear.

…but do not touch!

I reached in to feel the wiry mat of fur on her forehead. I did not think a creature so big could move so quickly; I scraped the back of my hand against the wire fence in retreat as she reared her head in protest. She rammed against the fence, which bowed but held, her horns thrusting through a warning.

A large brown buffalo stands looking through a wire fence.

Standing ground.

The momma buffalo kept her body between me and the baby. Before long, she grew bored and shuffled the youngster off to join another adult and juvenile buffalo that had kept their distance.

As Andy and I turned the last corner to climb home we heard a high pitched scream and a drone above us. Looking up we saw a young eagle rising into the sun, pursued by a small airplane. I was glad to see the plane eventually veer away from the powerful bird of prey.

Who do you see on your bike rides?

Categories: wildlife | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

miracles can happen

Andy and I sit on opposite ends of the couch. That’s what happens when each end is a Lazy Boy chair. Between us is room for one big black Lab.

Gypsy decides she wants to join us. She squeezes in between me and Gus, curls up and uses his back as a pillow. Gus edges toward Andy, panting, yawning.

We encourage the sudden and unusual intimacy. I, with my Mac, take a photobooth shot of the miracle.

A somewhat fuzzy shot of a brown dog facing away from the camera with her head on a big black lab facing to the left, in a not relaxed position. Behind the dogs is a bearded man in a gray t-shirt; all are on a green couch.

Andy is incredulous. Gus isn’t too sure.

A closer shot of the brown dog resting her head on the black Lab. His head is up and not relaxed.

Who is that brown dog? And where is my Gypsy?

Gus tries to relax, he really does.

After a few minutes, he can’t take it any longer. He slinks away to a safe spot on the floor.

Categories: dogs | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Families

We recently enjoyed our annual “campout” at Grandpa Andy’s, aka “the patch.” Two of Andy’s four kids had other commitments, so we were short our usual gang. Still, we had nine adults, five kids, and six dogs ripping around over the 4th of July long week-end.

After everyone left, I went on a photo-shoot to take in the quiet. In our front yard. Seems the Brownheaded Cowbird eggs had hatched and were keeping the Eastern Bluebirds very busy. Those cowbirds are pretty tricky, leaving their young for someone else to feed.

I felt like I could sympathize.

A close shot of the hole in a wooden birdhouse, the wood is faded teal colored paint. The beak of a baby brownheaded cow bird is sticking out of the hole. There is a flie on the wood just below and to the left of the hole.

“Where’s dinner?”

An Eastern Bluebird is perched on the top of a wooden birdhouse. The bird has a white belly and a red-orange chest, its head and wings are blue and its eye is black. It is holding some sort of catepiller in its beak.

First course on its way.

The bluebird is now perched on the edge of the hole to the birdhouse, facing toward the hole. Inside the hole are two yellow beaks wide open facing out.

“More, more, we want more!”

The bluebird has its wings spread as it flies to the hole in the birdhouse. It has a grasshopper in its mouth and the baby bird is stretching its neck out with its beak wide open to snatch up the bug.

Second course coming right up.

The bluebird is perched on the edge of the hole again and is sticking the grasshopper down the throat of the baby bird, which is really stretching out to receive it. The baby bird is at least as large as the bluebird, and is scraggly looking, with brown and white markings.

“Okay already! Let me get it in there.”

Categories: wildlife | Tags: , | 6 Comments

drama in a ditch

swallow tail alights

goldenrod deceiver waits

death on a daisy

a close up shot of a white daisy with a yellow center, an Eastern Swallowtail butterfly is hanging upside down from it on the left side, a large white goldenrod crab spider is holding it and sucking on it, out-of-focus daisies are in the background

Categories: poetry, wildlife | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving afterglow

Looks like we’re not the only ones stuffed.

A very fat-cheeked chipmunk hangs out on the top of a wooden birdfeeder.

“I think I ate too much.”

Categories: wildlife | 2 Comments

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