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

Too late!

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Ginkgo tree-November 2018

Although I knew the sugar maple was well past its prime, I was still hoping to capture some pictures of the ginkgo tree a short distance down the trail. The last time I walked that way, it hadn’t peaked yet, so maybe, just maybe, today would be the day. However, as I approached the spot where the path curves around the ginkgo, I became aware of small yellow ginkgo leaves littering the trail….Lots of small yellow leaves. That’s not a good sign! I thought to myself. And sadly I was right. Maybe next year,¬† I sighed, when the ginkgo came into sight.

Thanks for joining me today. See you soon.
Trail Walker

Autumn isn’t over yet…

…as promised in my last post!

Late afternoon, and I had the Arboretum trails almost entirely to myself. One or two dogs were out for an afternoon stroll with their human companions, and I came upon one family group, but with no one to engage in conversation, I enjoyed a quiet stroll around Lotus Pond, down the hill to Blueberry pond (Pictured above), and back to the car park before dark. Come along and enjoy the beauty with me.

Trail near Lotus Pond
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Golden sweet gum tree


Of course, for me a trail walk at the Arboretum is not complete unless I make the circle around Lotus Pond to enjoy the many sides of the Golden Willow Tree.

Today, because I had a little time left before the sun sank below the horizon, I decided to follow the trail from Lotus Pond to Blueberry Pond. I hadn’t walked that way in a while and checking it out in near-dusk on this late Autumn afternoon was a delightful experience. The clump of birch trees to the left of the trail and the bench at the top of today’s blog post caught my eye, and I paused to capture a colorful photo of the shoreline of Blueberry Pond.

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Blueberry Pond
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Birch trees

From Blueberry Pond, I climbed the hill, returning to the visitor’s center where I found my car, sitting nearly solitary in the parking lot.¬† Chilled, but happy with the images I had collected, I stowed my camera pack in the back seat, started the car, turned on the heater, and headed home.

Thanks for joining me for today’s trail walk.
See you soon!
Trail Walker


Autumn isn’t over…yet!

Autumn Leaves

Yes, it feels like winter today, but it won’t be truly winter until I have posted all the “Color Me Autumn” images and stories that I want to share. So, while it snowed and rained today, and the temperature hasn’t crept above 34 degrees (F), I will continue to celebrate Autumn with this post about our recent visit to Patterson’s Fruit Farm and future posts about my favorite season of the year. This way I can keep Autumn around for a very long time!

Patterson’s is one of my favorite local places to visit, especially during Autumn. Not only are the trees, richly dressed in leaves of orange, yellow, gold, and red, a feast for the eyes, but pumpkins and gourds, chrysanthemums and scarecrows accentuate the Fall feeling. Taste and smell add to the sensory overload when we visit the bake shop to order pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner and pick up freshly baked apple dumplings to enjoy at home. Fall is truly a season to celebrate. And I will continue to celebrate it for as long as I have images like these to share!

Thanks for joining me on today’s trail walk.
See you soon with more Autumn images!
Trail Walker

What happened to Autumn? Darn it!

The sugar maple has lost its beautiful Autumn color. I was feeling sort of sad yesterday when I took my Sunday afternoon trail walk, and saw what happened as a result of the rain, wind, and sudden drop in temperature in the past few days. The beautiful tree has gone into winter mode. So today I decided to post a few pictures of the maple that I had collected for my “Color Me Autumn” series.

October 3, 2018


October 16, 2018

November 4, 2018

November 7, 2018

And finally… the almost naked sugar maple tree on November 11, 2018

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I’m thinking it’s time to look forward to next October when I can start my 2019 “Color Me Autumn” gallery! That’s something to look forward to in the months ahead.

Thanks for visiting today. See you soon.
I’m not ready to let go of Autumn yet…
And I still have some Autumn pictures  to share.
Trail Walker

Is it vacant now? A bluebird catastrophe

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A story I didn’t have the heart to tell until now.

Mr. Bluebird has just peeked into the nesting box. Perched on top, Mrs. B. is wondering if the box is available. “Have the sparrows left?” she queries. “Can we move in?” (That’s my guess at their conversation based on their actions and the expressions on their tiny faces.)


A few months earlier, when summer was at its peak, Mrs. B, with a little help from her mate, had diligently built a nest in this very same box. When the nest was ready, the time had come. She laid three tiny eggs in her carefully constructed nest, and both parents went to work keeping watch over their brood. Day after day, she tended the nest, making occasional quick trips outside to pick up more twigs and a grub or two, carrying them back to the nest in her beak. Sometimes Mr. Bluebird would bring her a grub or a worm, although he mostly patrolled the neighborhood, doing his best to keep the house sparrows and blue jays away from the little family.

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Sadly, his best wasn’t good enough. One morning, when Momma and Poppa were both briefly out of the nest, an intruder got inside. How do I know that? I know because I had been keeping a close eye on the nest from my nearby kitchen window. Seeing the pair of beautiful blue birds, tending the nest so carefully, brought me great joy.

I checked on them every time I passed by the window, and then, one morning, tragedy struck. I glanced out the window and was horrified to see a house sparrow sitting on top of the nesting box, and the bluebirds were nowhere to be seen. I checked the nest often for the next few days. Occasionally I spotted Mr. Bluebird, perched on a nearby branch or on one of the feeders, his eyes scanning the neighborhood, but the momma was nowhere in sight. The house sparrows were around though, entering and leaving the nesting box they had quickly claimed as their own.

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Finally, after a few days, we opened the box and discovered three tiny eggs, with a hole pecked in each one. We sadly cleaned out the box, hoping an empty box would discourage the sparrows. It did, but except for a very rare visit to the neighborhood, the bluebirds were gone. They didn’t return to the nest.

Then one day, months later, at the end of October, I was excited to see a bluebird, not just one, but a pair of bluebirds, in the backyard. I began to keep a close eye on the nest, as I had months earlier, and eventually, as I watched, Mr. Bluebird entered the nest, not once, but several times. And one of those times, a house sparrow flew up and tried to enter the nesting box when the bluebird was already inside. With a flurry of feathers and much beating of wings, the brave bluebird repelled the invader, as I stood at the window and cheered.


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Mr. Bluebird defending the nest!

What will happen next? I don’t know. I’m rooting for Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird, but the sparrows are persistent. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Please keep your fingers crossed too.
I’ll let you know what happens!
Trail Walker

Fall festivities


Fall festival at Patterson’s fruit farm is a wonderful family occasion…especially for those who have small children in tow. However, Bob and I don’t have small children or even small grandchildren. The youngest grandchild in our family turned 21 in April, so we usually avoid the fall festival, as colorful as it is. But on this day, when our visit to the doctor (to get some stitches removed from my face) took us in the direction of Patterson’s Fall Fest, Bob had an idea that appealed to me in more ways than one! He said, “Why don’t we stop at Patterson’s to get some apple dumplings?” How could I say “no” to that proposal? Had it been a Saturday or Sunday, I would have said, “Let’s not. It will be way too crowded!” But it was the middle of the week, so we decided to take a chance, and we were thankful we did. Although there were plenty of visitors, the crowd was manageable and everyone was enjoying the beautiful day. We had a great time, the apple dumplings, apple butter, and apple cider were delicious, and the view from the top of the hill was a bonus…especially for an amateur photographer like me. I couldn’t resist adding a few more “Color Me Autumn” pictures to my photo gallery.

Thanks for making the visit with us today. I hope you can find a fall festival to enjoy where you live. Be sure to take your camera…or at least your phone, which is the camera I had with me today.

See you again soon.
Trail Walker

Color Me Autumn!

Earlier this week, I lifted my eyes from the keyboard and glanced out the window next to my computer. It was already late afternoon on what had started out as a gloomy overcast day. To my delight, outside my window the sun was shining! I immediately went into action. Leaping out of my chair and grabbing my camera, I invited Bob to leave his desk and head to Holden Arboretum with me for an impromptu trail walk.

Two weeks earlier, I had visited the Arboretum, hoping to find the sugar maple tree crowned in glorious autumn color…not an unreasonable expectation in the middle of October. Normally we would have nearly reached peak color here on the south shore of Lake Erie by that time, but that afternoon, to my disappointment, the tree still looked much like it had in mid-summer: beautiful, but almost entirely green.

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Sugar maple on October 16, 2018

Today, with the late afternoon sun shining and puffy white clouds in a beautiful blue sky, I almost held my breath as I hurried down the trail to where I could catch sight of the tree. My expectations weren’t high because the end of October is well past the time for peak color in northeast Ohio, and in a normal year, the maple would have lost most of its color and many of its leaves by the first of November (the day I am writing this post).

Then I rounded the curve in the trail and saw the maple.
My heart burst with joy.
I hadn’t missed its peak color after all!

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Sugar maple on October 29, 2018

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October 29-Another view of the sugar maple

Three more for today from my Color Me Autumn trail walks (Click to enlarge pictures)

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
I’ll be back soon to share more Autumn joy.

Trail Walker

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