Friday, March 25, 2016

Winter's Last Hurrah???

Just when we were beginning to enjoy spring-like weather, winter returned with a vengeance.  For over 24 hours, heavy snow and wind pelted the North Country.  It must have been Mother Nature's reminder that it's only March.  It did make for some beautiful sights this morning, however, especially against a backdrop of bright blue skies.  Couldn't resist one (last) snowy photo shoot.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Lessons Learned From My Dogs

Dogs have played an important role in my life.  While these pets have served as great companions, they've also been wonderful teachers of life's sessions.

My mini-GoldenDoodle Gracie and my Golden Retriever Oakley are ten years apart in age, yet they bonded from the beginning.

One of Gracie's greatest accomplishments was being able to jump up on the bed so she could cuddle with Oakley.  What an example they are of unconditional love, to each other and to me.  The world would be a different place if people followed the loving examples shown by their pets!

Gracie loves playing catch with her favorite ball in the back yard.  Sharing that love for play in the outdoors has brought me joy too!

But it's Oakley's story that I've learned the most from.  Since she was nine, she has had glaucoma.  Even though she was on several medications, she lost one eye eighteen months ago because the pressures became uncontrollable and painful.  Having one eye didn't slow her down much.

Then last spring, the second eye developed uncontrollable pressures and it had to be removed also.  I agonized over the decision for surgery because I worried what her life would be like as a blind dog.  Everything I'd read and was told by our vet said dogs adapt.  And she has!  She's slowed her gait some and has learned to use her snout similar to how a blind person uses a white cane.  She's mastered the layout of the house and knows exactly where the steps are from the deck to the yard.

She still loves being in the back yard and does many of the normal dog things she's always done, lifting her nose to smell the chipmunks that scamper around, eating snow in the winter, digging in the dirt, and rolling in the cool grass in the summer.  I try to let her have some independence in the fenced yard but keep a drag leash on her in case I need to reach her quickly to keep her safe from running into the fence or trees.

Oakley loves her special chair and enjoys sleeping there like any senior dog would.  She's twelve now, or 84 in people years.  It's Oak's adaptability that I've learned the most from.  How many of us can lose something as precious as our sight and still wag our tails about what life has sent us?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Late Winter Sunset

After a sun-starved winter, these balmy, sunny 50-degree-days have sent me out in search of sunsets.  I'd shot one at Peterson Park a couple weeks ago and I wondered if I could get down into Christmas Cove to catch another.

My heart sank a little as I approached the road into the park and saw there was still quite a pile of dirty, hard-packed snow in front of the entrance.  But then I noticed some tire tracks to the far right, which made me think others had gotten through.  So over the hump and down the trail I went.

I was the only car at the beach, but I noticed there was a pair of walkers down on the beach.  While it was chilly near the water, it was a beautiful night for a beach walk.

I could see the sun was going to set over the North Manitou.  It was nearly cloudless with only a narrow cloud stripe above the island.

As the sun neared the water, it seemed to drop much faster than it had been.  Isn't that always the case?  You come to the beach an hour before the sunset to get the best viewing spot and it seems like it takes the sun forever to get into position.  But once it gets close to the setting spot, it goes fast.

A bit to the north, a rosy afterglow was spreading over the horizon above South Fox Island. 

Back over the Manitou the orangey afterglow intensified, but the sky didn't have many streaks, probably due to the lack of cloud cover.  That's what I love about sunsets; they always are a surprise because no two are ever alike.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Waterfowl Abound!

I'd been looking for the reappearance of waterfowl for the last month, but hadn't seen many along the bay shoreline.  I was out enjoying the sunshine one afternoon this week and I found several kinds were doing the same.

This Mute Swan was gliding along the bay and it would occasionally dip its elegant long neck into the water for the aquatic plants it feeds on.

There were Canadian Geese too.  This beauty appeared to be watching its reflection in the water.

They were also doing lots of dunking, fishing for plant life from the bay bottom.

And then came the ducks.  This female Mallard floated on the chop that had developed on the Bay.

The more colorful male was paddling right behind his mate.

But not all the waterfowl were enjoying a float on the water.  These two Mallards were huddled on one of the parts of the bay that still had ice.  Look at those orange feet!

A whole congregation of gulls inhabited another ice floe.  Some were preening; most appeared to be sleeping.  I guess they have to rest after all the flying and diving they do during the course of a day.  I'd pick a warmer place for my afternoon nap, though.