117: Amazing day

(Ski tracks through the woods.)

This is the kind of day that makes me think I love winter.  M and I went to the Pine Lodge Ski Center at Chapin Forest Reservation for our cross-country ski lesson.  The instructor was wonderful and brutal.  Wonderful in that she seemed to figure out quickly what we needed to learn and how we needed to learn it.  Brutal in that she kept us going for pretty much the entire 90-minute lesson.  I guess she figured we could handle it.

I might not be able to walk again for at least a week.  lol!

Brutal, also, in that she kept making us work our way up a hill so we could learn how to come down it.  In the end, this tackled my fear of going downhill, which was probably her ulterior motive.  Hehehe.  I did tell her I worried about going downhill because I didn’t know how to stop or control my speed (and it always seemed to me that the downhill part ought to be the fun part!).  By the third trip down I was feeling okay about it.  What clinched it for me was when we were on a more gentle downslope later on and I slipped out of the ski tracks, slid across the path, and managed to stop myself without panic or having to think about it too much.

Yep.  We had a great teacher.  We also had a lot of fun and I am so glad we decided on taking a lesson.  I think it will make a world of difference for me.  M seemed pretty confident already.

We worked up quite a sweat.  Even so, we weren’t finished after our lesson.  We decided to head over to Holden Arboretum so M could check out their ski trails and I could hike around for a bit, camera in hand, to take some winter photos.  I took plenty but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see them.  I hiked a mile or so in the deep snow.  Add that to the skiing, and you get one exhausted Robin.  (Oh, we saw a flock of robins today, too!)  I’m trying to get this post up fast so I can put my feet up and rest for the remainder of the evening.  (Note to self:  No more digressing!  You can write all about this tomorrow!)

After arriving home two red foxes ran into the yard and we watched them for a while.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good view of a fox, especially in the wild.  I did attempt to take some photos and this is the best of the lot (don’t get your hopes up):

There was a screen on the window, it was past sunset, and by the time I grabbed the camera both foxes were on the move again.  But I think you can tell from the coloring and bushy tail that it’s a fox.

Pretty amazing, really.  The whole day.  🙂

Happy Autumn (1)

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

It’s day one of my commitment to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors every day for a year.  The first full day of autumn here in the Bogs started out thick with fog.  The morning fog is one of the things I like best about this season.  It feels almost magical to go out and walk in the mists of Breezy Acres.

Sound has an odd quality to it when it has to move through the fog.  Sound is muffled and it can be difficult to tell where it is coming from.  This morning’s fog was filled with the call of birds, mostly crows cawing from the trees in the woods, but they often sounded as if they were surrounding the pond rather than at the back of it.  A chevron-shaped line of geese came by while I was out, honking out their traveling song.  Ted Andrews in his book Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small lists the keynote for the goose as The Call of the Quest and Travels to Legendary Places.  And for those interested in crows, it is The Secret Magic of Creation is Calling.  Both seem to fit my new adventure quite well.  It is almost as if they were there to remind me of why I am doing this.

As the fog lifted it left behind a shimmer of dew drops covering everything.  My feet were soaked by the time I finished my walk around the pond.

They were also covered with grass.  M has been mowing the grass this week.  It’s the first time since the beginning of August, I think.  The grass hasn’t been growing much without the rain to help it along.

The spiders had obviously been busy overnight and in the early morning hours.  There were all kinds of webs spun all over the place.  Long lines of webs stretched from grass to trees and across the top of the paddle boat.

I found this butterfly waving its wings.  I’m not sure but I think it was trying to dry its wings.  I’m also not sure it is a butterfly.  I looked up the difference between moths and butterflies.  One of the differences is that a moth sits with its wings open whereas a butterfly sits with them closed behind its back.  The creature pictured above was slowly opening and closing its wings as it sat there so that particular hint was no help.  Another difference can be found on the antennae.  The butterfly’s antennae are club-like with a swollen tip.  The moth’s are feathery.

Another thing I enjoy about the fog is the softness it creates.  Everything has a kind of blur to it, spreading its color softly in the background the way the goldenrod is showing off its yellows in the photo above.  (Side note:  I’ve really been drawn to yellows lately.  I blame it on the goldenrod.)

Happy Autumn!

And to my friends in the southern hemisphere, Happy Spring!

It will not feel like autumn here today or tomorrow.  Our high temperature is expected to be in the 90’s with lots of humidity to go with that heat.  We may even break a record.

It’s too bad I can’t bottle some of it up to take with me on my walks when the temperatures dip below freezing in January.  I’d best enjoy it now while I can.

Change is in the air

(Garden spider and her web.)

I went out for a short walk on Sunday just to see what’s happening around the pond these days.  The goldenrod is blooming, leaves are starting to detach from the willow trees and fly with the wind, and the birds are beginning to gather together in great flocks.

Our late-blooming sunflowers are opening.  A pair of doves living in the spruce tree near the sunflowers are teaching their young one to fly so it can leave the nest and go out on its own.

There are butterflies dancing all over the place, moving from flower to flower and color to color on their way to wherever the butterflies go when they migrate.

The days are still warm but you can feel the change in the air, the coming of autumn.  Nights are getting a little cooler.  The canning and freezing season is in full force now, Mother Nature providing us with the bounty to get through another winter.

In other news…

I am breathing new life back into Bountiful Healing (my other blog).  In Choosing a sunflower I explain some of my reasons why.  Please join me over there from time to time.  And don’t be surprised if I eventually go back to BH as my primary blog.

What do you get…

… when you put together this:

and add it to this:


Give up?

You get our latest project, started and finished over the weekend:

A floating dock!  We can now swim out to the middle of the pond and relax on the dock.  M will be taking out an umbrella and some chairs to make it more comfortable.

The dock is difficult to see in the picture above.  It’s to the right of the pedal boat.  Here is a better shot taken on Sunday morning:

The rake sitting on top is the giant rake we use to pull out the pond weeds.  M is going to use it to test the bottom around the dock to make sure there is nothing to get snagged on or injured with or on when we jump off the dock.  It’s anchored for now but we can always move it if need be.

Oldest Son and M did a fine job of building the dock and getting it into the water in one day.  Saturday was a hot day and I know they both appreciated going for a swim once they had the dock in the water.  The water in the pond is warm on top but grows colder a foot or two down and can be quite refreshing.

For those wondering about the pond statistics, it’s 1.5 acres in area and 13 feet deep in the middle portion.  It’s well stocked with widemouth (or largemouth) bass and bluegills (also known by some as sunfish), along with a few carp.  We’re not sure how many carp are out there.  We used to have two large carp that we nicknamed Jaws and JawsII because most of the time all we could see were their large fins slicing through the water near the edge of the pond.  We added a few more carp this year but haven’t seen much of them.  In theory, the carp are supposed to help keep down the vegetation.  We haven’t seen much evidence of it in practice, though.  Then again, it might be worse without the carp.  Who knows?

There are also snapping turtles, black snakes, bullfrogs, green frogs, tadpoles, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, muskrats, and a whole host of other creatures living in or about the pond.  We also have frequent visitors such as great blue herons, egrets, kingfishers, green herons, deer, fox, and minks (who like to eat muskrats).  Our biggest problem with the pond this year is the plant and algae growth.  We have tried to control it through raking but it’s a big pond and a daunting task.  One of these years will get it worked out, but we’re still a long way from that now.  We did attend a pond clinic shortly after buying the property, and have tried some of the methods they recommended.  Some have been successful (too successful at times) and some have not.  It’s a big learning process for us.