A Beautiful Day in This Small World

Yesterday Tony and Petey and I left the house, on the way to somewhere. We didn’t know where we were going, just that we’d get there eventually. Twenty minutes later as we entered Traverse City, we settled on an area south of town where we had previously hiked, but only briefly. After a couple wrong turns – we didn’t consult a map, though we had our phones – we arrived at the Boardman River.

The trail was prettier than we had expected, with a lush canopy above and multiple access points to the clear, swift water below. (The mosquitoes weren’t even bad!) Petey was hesitant to wander much deeper than his elbows, until we let him off his leash to play with a dog (Bronna) who kept visiting us from around the bend. Bronna’s mom apologized for her wayward pup, and we returned the favor with an apology for the sand Petey contributed to their beach blanket.

We chatted on the banks to Bronna’s mom and grandma for several minutes as the dogs raced around, in and out of the water. We talked about where we all lived, and learned that they were immediate relatives of a neighbor who lives on our road, just over a mile away. After the dogs settled down a bit, we peeled Petey away to continue exploring the trails.

The path meandered through the woods and along grassy meadows (thanks, pollen, for the itchy eyes, etc), always near enough to hear the flowing water.

Wildflowers abounded, and I half-wished for a field identification book so that I could accurately name what we spotted. I know we saw irises (yellow) right along the river banks, purple vetch, and locust. There were lots of different little yellow flowers, and a similar number of white ones.

There were several butterflies, too, including a pretty iridescent one with hints of blue. I don’t know what it was either. At least I know that the one that sat for me was a monarch, so I’m not entirely hopeless ;)

After three hours on the trails and in the river, we loaded our tired selves into the car. Petey napped in the shade while Tony and I grabbed dinner, and then we stopped at the pet store to get some wipes for his tummy. (We’re pretty sure he’s allergic to the tall grasses that he so loves to use for exploration and potty time.) On our way out of the store, a couple and their daughter eyed Petey, and remarked how similar he was to their female pit bull. As dog folks like to do (see – I’m doing it right now!), we started talking about our furry ones. We mentioned that our puppy was a shelter boy, and then exchanged dog names (she’s Tilly). The guy then, exclaimed: “I know this dog!” He asked if we happened to get him from the Benzonia shelter (we did), and then the real excitement ensued. He filmed the Dog Man movies, and filmed part of Dog Man 2 at the shelter, and was there while Petey was…and Petey is apparently in the film. They had seriously considered adopting Petey, and were thrilled to see him in his happy life.

We all returned home, tired and happy – me with little happy tears, grateful for the day in this small world.

What I Love

One of my best friends shared this post on Facebook the other day along with a list of things she loves.
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It stuck with me all through the weekend, so I’m clearing my head here. I’m not sure it makes me interesting, but it’s far more fun to focus on what I love rather than on things I hate.

I love:
family visits and continuing traditions, laughing until I cry, reading by a fire or out in the sunshine, season changes, a fresh blanket of snow, the first blossoms in spring, petrichor, the smell of a John Deere tractor, playing on or in the water, staying up late watching movies, kettle corn, afternoon naps, morning dog walks, the beauty in the details, falling asleep to a soft rain, sleeping with the windows open, the crunch of fallen leaves and thick snow, Torch Lake, Lake Michigan, the golden hour, spontaneous road trips, sunsets, sun warmed tomatoes fresh off the plant, snuggling with my husband and our little fuzzies, classic rock songs around a campfire, twinkling stars, frogs and crickets on a quiet night, hiking, jogging, kayaking, baking, singing loudly, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, making photos…

What do you love?

Family time, hiking, mushroom hunting traditions… (too bad the only photo I took of both my parents they aren’t in focus :-/ )

Beauty in the details, petrichor, photos

Kayaking, connecting with friends

Sunsets, Torch Lake

In Which We Gallivant and Relax

Four years ago, Tony and I had just completed the 1,000-mile journey from our former home in the north Georgia mountains to the lake riddled sandscape that we now call Narnia. Home. Narnia and Home. Because it is profoundly both. Despite long, cold, lonely winters and hordes of summertime mosquitoes, this place is surprisingly magical, and I have never felt more at home any place I’ve lived (that’s Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Michigan if you’re counting). So for us, this weekend was one for memories on a few different levels, and we commemorated in the way that best seemed to fit us.

Friday night we geared up for the much-anticipated Camelopardalid meteor shower. We nestled ourselves along a rocky outcropping on Torch Lake, and waited. Except for the chirping of wetland critters, the stillness of the night was absolute. The lake sat in waveless tranquility, reflecting the overhead constellations, making it a choice whether to gawk at the sky or the lake’s mirror surface. In almost two hours, I spotted a couple of meteors, and Tony saw one good one. Otherwise, we simply enjoyed the starry night and the bit of the Milky Way that peeked over the eastern hills before heading home.

See the constellation Cassiopeia? And how about that meteor the camera spotted off our back patio? (There’s one more coming soon from the lake)

Side note/rant: My above depiction of night on the lake is what life Up North is generally like. It’s a peaceful place, full of natural wonders. It also happens to be a place where there was still ice on the lakes (down here…there’s still a lot of ice on Lake Superior) earlier this month. This. Month. At about 1:30am, a party of hooligans came stumbling out onto the Alden Marina. I can only assume they were hooligans, because we could hear their drunkenness a quarter-mile away. They let off fireworks amidst shouting, clambered aboard a boat, and then rocketed out of the marina with boat engine screaming. From my word choice, you know where I stand on this, but aside from the mind-boggling rudeness (and at the risk of sounding like a complete prude), they were far too cavalier about safety. There’s no way at that speed and in that dark they could have seen anyone else on the lake…which is only about 40-degrees (4C). Allow me to conclude my venting with: argh and sigh.

Saturday morning arrived before I was quite ready, having gone to bed sometime around 5:00am. But it was a beautiful, clear day, and the mushrooms called. We’re training Petey to help us find them. So far, he’s doing a great job:


The real story is that Petey doesn’t stay still in the woods for more than a breath or two. He isn’t frantic, but he is “terribly busy.” Tony and I hunt and chatter, and Petey notes when we hone in on a place and he comes to check it out. He has a knack for walking just over our morels without setting his paws upon them, but that’s the extent of his skills.

My photo was taken after we discovered a patch with 38 beautiful mushrooms. Petey’s was taken after some excavation. Not sure who was happier ;)

The rest of our weekend was not so adventuresome, though we still did get out. We toured the Old Mission Peninsula seeking cherry blossoms, dropped by Petoskey (fodder for another blog, as those photos are still on the camera), and picked up a few plants from the nursery. A very busy, relaxing weekend with ample opportunity for reflection and strolling down memory lane.

Spring Is Happening!

We are finally, finally in the full throes of spring, and I just cannot get enough of it. Fortunately, my husband is very understanding about my need to be outside, and my dog might have cabin fever worse than I do. It’s a close call, though ;)

These past weeks, we’ve spent oodles of time outside, which means a fair amount of off-leash time for Petey. We’ve learned that he gets easily grass-stained, and that he does enjoy the water (weren’t so sure there for a while – he gave wide berth to any puddle we came across in the winter). The beach is particularly nice after a hot hike, because even on a warm day (I’m talking low 70’s/20C) the water is cold (38F/3C).
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Those who know me or who’ve followed the blog for a while know that most of our outside time has been spent in the woods. We’ve done hours of mushroom hunting, and haven’t been too successful until tonight. We’ve found a few, but we’ve been far more successful at finding cool things in the woods to look at. It’s not a bad deal. If I’m not going to find dinner, it doesn’t hurt to find pretty things. When you’re intensely focused on details like you must be to find morels, you tend to notice the details in other things. That’s how the teensy-tiny orange mushrooms grabbed Tony’s attention. And how cool is that teal wood? I have no idea why it’s that color, but that’s how I found it. Speaking of blue, how about those fungi on the tree? Such cool stuff out there, I tell ya!

Such cool stuff, and such scary stuff. Yes, scary stuff. Yesterday was one of the most glorious days a person could hope for. I took Petey for his morning walk, and just wanted to call in “Can’t focus – too pretty out.”


I didn’t, but I wanted to. And Petey wanted me to, too, because he kept going to the back door and plaintively looking back at me. Eventually it dawned on me that it would be a perfect day for working on the patio. I grabbed my laptop, phone, and some water, and opened the door.

Less than 100 feet away, over where the deer occasionally bed down, a cougar sprang off into the woods. A Petey-sized (he’s 67-lbs now) cougar. I am 99% sure of it. I’m leaving a 1% chance it wasn’t a cougar because I have no photos or other evidence, but I know what bobcats look like and I know what coyotes look like, and it was not those. And it certainly wasn’t a deer. It might have been a Bigfoot, though.

Seriously, it was a cougar. In my yard. The funny thing is that cougars are far more elusive than morels, and I’ve looked for years to find one of those on our property. I should have looked for a big mountain lion, because here’s the ironic thing: when we went over to see if it had left any tracks, I found a morel.

It’s on the right. I included the left shot of some poisonous lookalikes for fun.

Not all our days have held such excitement. We’re still mostly reveling in not dressing in layers and in all the green. And I’ve been enjoying the simple act of capturing a sunset that happens well into the evening. It’s enough, and I’m happy with it :)

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A Beautiful Birthday

Happy Birthday to Me! Another year’s passed, and they really do seem to be going faster. I don’t feel any older than I did this time last year, but the days are adding up, and I can tell I’m getting old. If there are no other signs, I am obviously more mature have more grey hairs, so there’s no denying it. Not that I’m bothered by it; aging is a pretty good alternative to my other option, and I’m not so sure I’ll look bad with grey hair ;)

I think Mother Nature finally took pity on me, and treated me especially well for my especial day. The weather couldn’t have been fairer, and Tony was of a like mind with me today so we spent most of the afternoon doing what we do in the spring. (That’s hunting morels if you’re unsure.)
TC

Because Father Winter lingered long past his welcome this year, Tony and I haven’t been our usual eager selves to check the progress in the woods. We know there’s not been nearly as much as one might expect by this time in May. However, my neighborhood walks with Petey have indicated that it’s time to start hitting our spots checking for morels.

While I love eating the mushrooms, my heart is really in the hunt. A friend and I swear it’s what’s actually behind the Easter egg hunting tradition. If you’ve ever delighted in finding Waldo, then you have an inkling of what morel hunting is like. Nature’s tastiest nuggets camouflaged against a gorgeous backdrop of rustling leaves and vibrant, ephemeral wildflowers. You get to walk amidst it all, enjoying the simplicity of each passing moment so that even if you don’t find any mushrooms, you’ve still won a great prize.

We didn’t find a ton – we brought home twenty that were acceptably large – but we found some: The season is afoot! Even if we hadn’t found any, I’d still have counted today as a gift. This way, there’s no doubt it’s going in the books as a perfect birthday celebration.

We did not pick the tiny mushroom, I just included it for funsies.