Sunday evening at dusk

My neighbor and I took a short walk along the river trail in Chagrin River Park this evening, the last Sunday evening of 2018. I didn’t capture any spectacular pictures, but the light was good, the crisp air was refreshing, and we had a good “chin wag” as my photographer friends from the British Isles might call it.

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Ollie, the baby rottweiler
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Looking up the river with the sun setting behind me
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Marti, trying out her new walking sticks
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Fishermen on the river

We met many other walkers and several dogs along the trail, making this a peaceful way to end the day. If you haven’t taken an evening walk recently, why not give it a try? Just be sure to dress warmly. In my latitude, the air gets a bit brisk as the sun sinks below the horizon. (For more about today click here.)

Wishing you a Happy New Year…
with many good photo opps!
~Trail Walker

A family tradition

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On Sunday afternoon, two days before Christmas, two daughters, one granddaughter, and I got together to bake Christmas cookies, a family tradition that for me goes w-a-a-a-y back to when I was a child. Many years ago (mid-20th century), Christmas cards, cookies, caroling for neighbors, and a candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve were traditional holiday events for our family.  Special cookies…huge tins filled with them, provided enough sweet treats for all to enjoy over the holiday visit. My sisters and I, along with our families, would drive back to our parents’ home in southeastern Pennsylvania. There we celebrated Christmas together, singing, worshiping, baking, sharing stories, and more. We were very blessed, and we knew it. It was part of the glue that held our family together, despite the many miles that separated us.

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My childhood home

If that sounds like I’m getting old, I’ll claim the years, and, along with the years, I’ll claim the many warm and wonderful memories…and give thanks for them. Bob and I still exchange holiday cards, attend candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and last week I joined members and friends of our church choir as we went caroling for guests at local nursing homes, giving each guest a teddy bear as evidence of the love we want them to feel.

 

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Choir & friends
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Cathy’s mom with her teddy bears

However, cookie tins filled with special cookies, most of them baked only at Christmas time, was our mother’s tradition, a tradition we had dropped from our busy schedules when our parents passed on, and the family home was sold. Now my sisters are gone and none of our  children live in southeastern Pennsylvania. I am left with the precious memories of those Christmas trips to southeastern Pennsylvania and a few niggling questions:

Why did we ever stop our Christmas baking? Overly diet conscious? Busy lives? Too much shopping and wrapping? Mixed up priorities?  Whatever were we thinking? A revival of the tins-full-of-cookies-tradition was long overdue! Two years ago, Becky and Alison decided to revive it, and this week we all had a wonderful time during our second annual cookie baking session, and, as a bonus, we each went home with a tin of cookies! Granddaughter Emmy was the force behind this year’s baking session, and her Aunt Becky provided the kitchen, as well as the two dogs who kept their eyes (and noses) on the proceedings. I had a great time taking photos. Take a look!

Do you have a special holiday-time tradition? One that is the glue that holds you and your family and friends together? If you do, please tell us about it in the comments, but if your special tradition needs a revival, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
~Trail Walker

There’s nothing quite like it!

 

Nothing quite like what, you ask? Well, to be honest, you may or may not agree with me, but I maintain that there’s nothing quite like a trail walk in the first real snow of the season. It isn’t even winter yet, just the downhill end of Autumn, but on this December morning we woke up to snow-covered trails, slippery slopes, and frigid fingers. And oh, how glorious to walk down the trail through a pristine white world…such a contrast to our earlier Autumn walks.

I’m reluctant to admit it, but Autumn with its blue skies, crisp air, and vibrant palette has truly come to an end, and we are faced with Winter: the season of boots with cleats to prevent slipping and sliding, gloves that challenge me as I try to press the shutter button, and lenses (the camera and mine) that constantly fog over as I exhale in the frosty air. Winter brings with it a myriad of new challenges for the trail walking photographer, but new joys come with the challenges. Here are just a few that I spotted along the trail this snowy morning:

Whitetailed deer
The does are more curious than fearful.
A female northern cardinal
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White-breasted nuthatch
Another cardinal. The red male cardinals were hiding today!
A stare down with two does!
I’m not sure of the identity of this bird, but it posed perfectly!

That’s it for today, trailwalkers. I hope you liked this preview of sights we’ll see on future  wintry walks. Be sure to wear lots of layers and get some cleats to put on your boots for our next winter walk.

Thanks for trudging down the trail with me!
Sharing the trail makes each walk extra special.
~Trail Walker

Oh the indignity!

Mabel wearing plaid hat

I’m a sheepdog…an English sheepdog. An 80 pound girl sheepdog!!! Caring for sheep is a really big responsibility! The sheep have to depend on me. Will anyone think I look dependable and responsible in this hat? Could someone please explain this to my master? I will be eternally grateful! Oh right, I almost forgot…My name is Mabel! You can read more about me in the blog post Trail Walker wrote yesterday.

Mabel, the trailwalking sheepdog

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After our much loved springer spaniel, Gulliver, died in September of last year, Bob and I realized something important was missing from our lives. Gulliver had been our best buddy for 15 years, and suddenly there was a dog-sized hole in our hearts and an empty space in our home. Then, eight months ago, something serendipitous happened. Our daughter Alison and son-in-law Mike decided to build a new house, and while it was under construction, they had to move into an apartment…a very nice apartment, but one that wouldn’t welcome more than one of their two family dogs…and definitely not a dog that weighed nearly 80 pounds. Mabel, their four-year-old English sheepdog, was over the limit. Major problem! What to do? Mabel is a BIG dog.

When we heard that they would have to live in an apartment while their house was built, we joked that they couldn’t all move into our house during the transition, but we would be glad to take in at least one of the dogs. Consequently, eight months ago, Bob and I became foster parents for Mabel. This solved their housing problem, and at the same time filled the huge dog-sized hole in our hearts. It was a solution made in Heaven.

After Mabel moved in with us, she and Bob took daily walks in Chagrin River Park. She also happily shared some of his morning toast, and curled up comfortably on the carpet while he worked in his office. If I sat down to read the paper, Mabel would sit next to me, and if she heard me open the refrigerator door, she would pad into the kitchen on her big paws because it must surely be mealtime if I was making food preparation noises in the kitchen.

Every day when the mail truck pulled up in front of our house, Mabel responded by dashing over to the front window to keep a watchful eye on the postman as he made his rounds. When he approached our house, she would go on high alert, letting out a volley of loud barks as he walked up the drive to deliver our mail. “Stranger approaching!” she announced, and kept a wary eye on the action until he slammed our mailbox shut and continued his route. Unfamiliar dogs walking past our house got the same treatment. Obviously Mabel, the ever-vigilant sheepdog, had assumed the role of our protector. Bob and I had become her sheep.

When we sat down at the supper table, Mabel would stand next to Bob’s chair, hoping for a handout. Although she is actually tall enough to rest her chin next to Bob’s plate, good table manners (ours, not hers) required that she sit quietly next to his chair to wait patiently for a tidbit from Bob’s plate. Later, when we sat on the couch to watch the evening news, Mabel maneuvered herself into the space between us, and if she had to rest her head on one of our laps, that was okay with her…and with us too. On evenings when Bob was out to meet with a client, Mabel wouldn’t settle down until he returned, and if I was out, she never failed to greet me at the door when she heard my car pull into the driveway.

In eight months, Mabel became a full-fledged member of our household. Occasionally she would go to the apartment for a weekend visit with Mike, Alison, Michael, Emmy, and Cooper, but when the visit was over, she joyfully returned and resumed the role of sheepdog for Bob and me. She had achieved dual citizenship and took her new responsibilities seriously!

As anyone who has ever moved into a new house knows, the day construction is complete, the moving truck has come and gone, and the family can settle into their new home, is both joyful and exciting. But while Bob and I were happy to see their excitement, joyful didn’t describe the way we felt when Alison came to pick up Mabel and take her to her new home. The huge dog-sized hole in our hearts has returned, and it is bigger than ever! Like forlorn sheep, Bob and I are holding on to the hope for regularly scheduled visits from our sheepdog.

Mabel’s photo gallery

Thanks for stopping by today to meet Mabel.
I hope to see you soon.
Trail Walker

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