Special backyard visitors…

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A pair of bluebirds made my heart happy today! I haven’t seen a sign of either one in months,  and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him sitting on top of the nesting box this morning.

And then she joined him and together they checked out the neighborhood.

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She peered into the nest, and I wondered if she would approve of what she saw inside.

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Disappearing inside to take a better look around, she inspected the box while he perched on top to survey the neighborhood, maybe keeping an eye out for the marauding neighborhood cat.

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She climbed inside the nest, leaving him standing watch on the rooftop.

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We put up this new bluebird box six months ago, hoping a pair of bluebirds would move in and raise their young where we could enjoy their family shenanigans. Unfortunately, shortly after the new box was installed some aggressive house sparrows moved in and chased the bluebirds away.

But today the bluebirds returned for another look at the box. After Mrs. B. completed her inspection, they both flew away, so I have no idea what her decision was. For now, I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed, hoping they will return. Meanwhile, as I said, it made my heart happy to see them in our backyard today.

That’s all the neighborhood news for now.
See you in a few days.
Trail Walker (aka Skip)

A magical moment

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One recent Sunday morning I glanced out my kitchen window and saw this very small fawn resting in the grass by our neighbor’s shed. Reaching for my camera, I captured a few pictures as the baby stood up and looked around.

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Its mama was nowhere to be seen, but I hoped she was nearby. After a few moments, the little one wandered, on wobbly legs, behind the shed and out of sight. Later, when I returned home from church, she was gone, and I haven’t seen her since. This is not the first time we’ve seen a deer in our neighborhood, but each time is a magical moment, and one to remember.

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

Birds before breakfast

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I was excited when I glanced through the kitchen window  at the backyard buffet and discovered an Eastern bluebird posing for multiple photo opps. The sky was overcast, as it usually is in February. A sunny blue sky would have been appreciated, but it wasn’t essential because this colorful visitor arrived with his own special brand of sunshine. And talk about blue! The hue on his wings suggested that they  had been dipped into a can of brilliant blue paint. Take a look at these photos of his morning grooming session.

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Mr. Bluebird wasn’t our only visitor yesterday.  Look who else stopped by to say hello! These unexpected sightings…all before breakfast, made this a memorable morning.

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The pileated woodpecker didn’t hold his pose for as much as a minute. He flew in, landed long enough for me to click off two shots, and whoooooshhh, he was gone!   But I got the shots, which made this a very good morning!

Thanks for stopping by to say hello.
Hope to see you soon!
Trail Walker

More memorable moments

My family then, then and now…# 2 in an ongoing series

On a rainy day in late November,  I went to Holden Arboretum for a photoshoot with two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy. A few days later, I created a blog post using the pictures from the photoshoot, along with pictures of them when they were about four and five years old. I titled it “A Fun Photoshoot.” If you missed it, you can see that blog post here.  At the time, I saw it as the beginning of a series titled My family: then and now.

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Michael and Emmy…2016

Now fast forward to today…

For about a month I have been working on my SmugMug website, bringing it up-to-date. I have seriously neglected it, so it truly needs more than a little reorganizing and updating. As I was working on that project today, searching my years of accumulated photos for snowy day pictures to use in a winter-themed gallery I want to create, I rediscovered these long ago photos of Michael, Emmy, and their cousins on the sledding hill in Chagrin River Park.

 

The discovery stopped me in my tracks and detoured me down a different trail. After a brief , “Aww, weren’t they cute” moment, I jumped into creating today’s blog post, “Number 2” in the series I mentioned above. When I come across old family pictures, my parents, sisters, children and grandchildren, I can easily lose myself in reminiscing. Many memorable moments come to mind, and I enjoy every minute of those detours.

And that brings me to the purpose of today’s post. Plain and simple, I would like to encourage you to set aside some time to dig into your photo archives. Until you do, you’ll never know what trails they will lead you down. Get out the old photo albums or that big box filled with snapshots (that hopefully someone has labeled with names and dates 😊 ) and have fun with them. I can’t think of a better snowy day project!

Thanks for joining me on the trail today. If you’ve had similar photo detour experiences, I would love to hear about them in the comments. If you dig into those old photo archives, have fun! I hope you’ll come back and share some of your memorable moments.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

 

Eastern screech owl redux

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What should a photographer, who loves trail walks, do on a cold, rainy January morning? She could of course put on rain gear, thumb her nose at the wet weather, and head down the trail. However, this trail walker (me) found a more appealing (and much dryer) activity this morning. Sitting in front of my computer, I opened the WordPress website, clicked on the link to the “Reader,” and began to wander through the blogs of other WordPress contributors. What followed was not my usual walk down the trails in Chagrin River Park or Holden Arboretum, but was, nonetheless, a fascinating (and dry) trail walk that linked me to trails in distant states and far away countries.

One of the first links I clicked on was this one, posted this morning by Belinda Grover, an outstanding photographer I follow regularly. Belinda’s post today, an Eastern screech owl, reminds me of the screech owl that lives in a nesting box in Chagrin River Park.  With that reminder,  I dug into my photo archives until I found the little owl posted at the top of this page.  My sleepy-eyed owl is cute, but Belinda’s is much sharper, and she even caught it with one eye wide open, so I implore you to take a minute to click on the link and enjoy Belinda’s photography. I hope you return here, however, and read the rest of this post, because my intention today, in addition to introducing you to Belinda’s work, is to share several tips that have helped me become a better photographer and blogger.

  • First, I want to encourage you to take a little time every day (0r as often as you can) to click on the WordPress Reader. It has links to a wealth of interesting blogs, fascinating bloggers, and exciting opportunities to visit new places and see beautiful scenery.
  • Second, I want to suggest that examining the work of other photographers, via the Reader, can help you become a better photographer. Not only have I met new people and visited places I will probably never visit in person (think Switzerland, Denmark, or New Zealand), I have also learned from photographers who are more experienced than I. What a wonderful way to get an education.
  • Third: Remember to mine your own archives every once in a while. You may find photos you have forgotten (like my sleepy owl) that could become the focus of future posts. How exciting is that? They’re yours; you won’t be breaking any copyright laws; and they are already on your computer, making them easy to access.
  • Finally, related to mining your archives, is a fourth tip. Please make a habit of giving a few keywords to all your images. When you want to find that picture you took in Kuala Lumpur or Hawaii (Don’t I wish!), it will be much easier to bring it up, if you have given it a few relevant tags (keywords).

However, this business of leaving the familiar trail and wandering through the Reader and/or through your archives, comes with a warning. It will be interesting, educational, and unbelievably fun. It can even be eye-opening, introducing you to new blog friends and far-away places. However, above all it can be addictive. So you might want to set a timer to remind you when it is time to come back to earth, i.e. to your own blog. You’ll want to leave enough time to finish your post for the day.

Thanks for stopping by.
Some bedraggled (think dripping wet) bluebirds visited the
Backyard Buffet, while I worked on this post! So…
Come back tomorrow to see them!
(Preview below)
Trail Walker

 

 

 

 

Sharing Christmas joy

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Joy to the World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Christmas is a joyful holiday, especially for those who celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus. But I believe that those who celebrate Christ’s birth should do everything we can to spread the joy of this celebration and share it with others in our community and beyond. That is what our church, Willoughby United Methodist, was doing on Christmas Day when we prepared a delicious Christmas dinner and sent out an open invitation to our community to come and enjoy it with us. Weeks of planning and several days of cooking turkeys, hams, cookies, and more, culminated in a festive celebration that was enjoyed by many.  Chatting with the guests and snapping their pictures added to my joy, and I hope sharing this Christmas Day dinner with others added to theirs.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Friends!
See you in 2017

Meanwhile, enjoy this rendition of “Joy to the World,”
sung by a boys’ choir from Ireland in 2013.

Trail Walker

 

Everybody loves a teddy bear!

On Christmas Day, our church (Willoughby United Methodist) serves a free turkey and ham dinner with all the extras to anyone in the community who wants to join other people for a delicious holiday dinner. This year it followed our Sunday worship service. We give teddy bears as gifts. We also take bears to give away when we go Christmas caroling in nursing homes. People of all ages love teddy bears!

A fun photoshoot

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The golden willow in Lotus Pond on this drizzly November day.

Two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy, siblings as Emmy described them today, are home from college for the holiday weekend.  After our family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I asked if they would be interested in visiting the Arboretum today for a little photoshoot. They agreed, so off we went this afternoon.

My goal was to replicate a photo I had taken of them fourteen plus years ago when their mother and I took them to the Arboretum. That beautiful spring day in 2002 they were about four and five years old  and the weather was perfect for playing around Blueberry Pond. Today’s weather was  drizzly  and only a couple degrees above 40,  but we proceeded with our plan anyway, and we had a lot of fun. Here are the pictures:

Michael, Emmy, and me in 2002

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Michael and Emmy today

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If the ground hadn’t been so soggy today, I was thinking of taking their picture on the little footbridge at the bottom of the hill. When I got home this evening and started digging through my old picture files, I wished I had gone through with the plan, despite the mud and slippery leaves, because…

Here are Michael and Emmy on the footbridge in 2002

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And here they are today overlooking the Butterfly Garden

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I can’t believe it has been over 14 years since that May day in 2002. Time flies by way too quickly; places change and people change also, especially children. Blink your eyes, turn around once or twice, and they are no longer little children. This is why I enjoy photography so much and treasure the pictures I have collected over the years. On this post-Thanksgiving day, they, the children and the pictures, mean the world to me.

Thanks, Michael and Emmy, for visiting the Arboretum with me today. It was cold and a little wet, but I had a wonderful time!  -Grandma

And thanks, blog friends, for coming along!
Trail Walker

P.S. I’m thinking I see a future series of blog posts. All I have to do is get the other grandchildren back to Ohio and take them to the Arboretum for a photoshoot. That might take a while, but I’ll file it in the back of my mind and maybe someday it will happen.

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