Posts Tagged With: outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

Camera. CHECK!

A few weeks back I lamented the lack of my camera. I was leashing up the three dogs for a walk down Brady Road and for half a second I thought about throwing the strap around my neck. Nah, too much to handle with the three of them.

I was more than sorry when we reached the woods/field boundary about a half-mile south. A whoosh of wings startled all of us as four or five turkey vultures lit up from the ditch ahead. We stopped. As my camera-less eye followed the big birds I caught sight of an eagle perched high in a dead tree a few yards from the road.

We four stood and watched in awe, long enough for me to bury myself in regret. The eagle sat and watched us in return. The dogs stood alert, but easy.

Would of, could of, should of. Ah well.

We continued and found the vulture’s breakfast…a decimated deer carcass.

I turned and the eagle finally dropped from his branch, wings spread like a hang-glider. He dropped earthward, and at the last, one flap lifted him toward the sky. A second flap later he caught an updraft and soared. Out of nowhere a kamikaze-crow (less than half his size) flew in from the starboard side, cawing.

Not only did I lament not having my camera, I wished I had attached my 300-500mm lens!

But. Today. I had my camera. And my long lens.

On the way home from an assignment covering the West Branch Classic Road Race, I spotted two eagles enjoying brunch in a farmer’s field. Enjoy….

Two adult eagles in a farmer's field. One appears to be on look-out duty while the other pecks away at an unknown dead critter.

Two eagles in a field. One stands guard while the other chows down.

A large eagle attempts take off with the carcess of something brown, perhaps a ground hog? His winds are fully spread and he is gripping the carcass with his talons. Part of the carcass is still on the ground.

The eagle that was eating bails when I get out of the van to get closer. The sentry attempts take off with the loot, but the dead groundhog (?) is too heavy.

The second eagle settles down to eat. He looks around after each beak-full. The carcass is in front of him; he uses his talons to hold it down while ripping off bites.

The eagle settles. He watches as I position myself in the nearer ditch. I come no further. He decides that eating is worth the risk, peering at me in between ripped-off chunks.

Categories: wildlife | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Blue tenants

After a mild winter, Andy checks the propane level on the pig tank.

A close up of the blue lid of our propane tank in our backyard behind our potting shed. Andy is just visible in the background, walking over.

Something is under the cap.

He calls me over.

“Isn’t the sky the most amazing blue?” I say. “It’s like we’re wearing polarizing lenses over our eyes.”

Shot of a soaring turkey buzzard high in a deep blue sky.

Turkey buzzard looking for lunch.

“Talk about blue,” he responds, and lifts the peeling and somewhat rusty blue lid of the propane tank.

The blue lid of the propane tank is lifted to expose a large bird's nest filled with five blue robin's eggs!

Five new tenants.

Smart momma-robin to build her nest under a roof!

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

Farmland

“Greening” takes on a whole old meaning in rural Michigan after an early spring rain.

A view across a farm field, with farm buildings in the distance, bordered by a just-leafing-out forest. The crop is just starting to sprout in waving rows--a hint of green above the wet brown earth.

Spring crop.

Categories: farmland | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Lumberman Andy

Andy poses in front of our wood shed (which is filling up with newly cut wood). He balances our cant hook on his left shoulder, gloved right hand on his hip, in a regal stance, looking off into the distance.

Lumberman Andy, with his cant hook.

Andy says, “Do I look like the Monument?”

(He refers to the Lumberman’s Monument along the AuSable River.)

Categories: Andy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Surviving

One day before my story about wildfires is published in the Ogemaw County Voice, Andy sits working at his desk. The phone rings. It’s the conference call from Habitat International that he’s been expecting. As he eases back for what he knows will be an extended conversation, a flicker outside the window catches his eye.

“I’m going to have to drop off here for a minute,” he says dryly to the group, as dry as the brush in our rain-deprived woods. “My backyard is filled with smoke and fire.”

Drew replies, “That’s more creative than ‘my dog ate my homework.'”

Click.

A 9-1-1 call later and Andy gets back into the call while the Lupton Fire Department puts out a fire at the edge of our woods.

Is this irony?

A picture of the edge of our woods where a brush fired scorched the ground in an area of about 150 feet. The trees are not fully budded and the sky is a deep cobalt blue.

The edge of our woods.

The cause of the fire was ashes from our outdoor wood boiler that I dumped out earlier that morning. Turns out they were still smoldering, even after cooling in a covered trash can overnight.

The fireman said, “I put mine in a cement bunker for a week before dumping them.”

Or stupidity?

A closeup shot of the scorched bark of a tree, close to the ground. The black melted thing hanging from it is a deer feeder tube left by the previous owners. The oak leaves on the ground from last fall are all burned away.

Scorched.

I prefer calling it experience.

In other words: surviving stupidity.

A near-the-ground shot of a baby fir tree that was licked by the fire, but hopefully still alive. Some of the needles are brown, but many are still green. It's like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree." The burned ground behind is just out of focus.

Survivor.

Categories: Andy | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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