Day Three Hundred Fifty-nine

Black Ice and Taking a Break from a Raucous Good Time

I woke early this Christmas morning and figured I should head out for a walk in the event that the day’s festivities would prevent me from walking later. It didn’t, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Boy, is my neighborhood quiet on Christmas morning at 6:45! We had gotten a dusting of fresh snow overnight, and the only footprints that I saw were the squirrels’, the rabbits’, and mine. I saw a car drive by on a distant cross-street, but otherwise had the entire outdoors to myself.

I was really enjoying myself until I felt my feet go out from under me on some black ice and found myself sprawled on the sidewalk. Ouch!

I got up, brushed myself off, and continued my walk. By the time I got home though, I realized that my left wrist was awfully sore. I determined that it didn’t hurt enough to be broken and went on with my Christmas. (I got enough sympathy from my husband that he volunteered to peel potatoes for the side dish that I was bringing to my in-laws’ for dinner.)

Later in the afternoon, I went for another walk with my youngest son, who’s 14 and has autism spectrum disorder. We headed out in the woods behind my mother-in-law’s home. It was nice to take a break in the middle of a long visit that got a little loud for him. I’m glad we brought our boots along!

As for my wrist, I’ll keep monitoring it, but I think it’ll be okay. And to think that I had almost made it the whole year without a fall!

Day Three Hundred Fifty-two

The sun is back!

It certainly made it easier to head out for a walk this afternoon. I walked around the neighborhood and up to the park. Earlier this year I posted pictures of the park’s sculptures taken with my phone, but I wanted to take some better pictures for the sculpture gallery on my Along the Trail: Signs and Structures page, and I’ve added them there. I’ve added two more pages as well with some of my favorite bird and plant pictures.

(While at the park, I also saw three squirrels and a small plane.)

Three Squirrels and a PlaneGood walk!

Day Three Hundred Forty-five

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Wings

It felt a little warmer today–or at least less windy. I knew on Day 343 that I wanted to go back and check out more of the Island Prairie Park in Frankfort Square, Illinois, and I thought today might be warm enough. My daughter joined me.

We started at the park district headquarters and walked three-fourths of the way around Island Prairie on the paved (and plowed!) bike path. It was still awfully cold but quite pretty.

Island PrairieLike on Day 343, I really enjoyed watching the little songbirds darting to and fro. I wish they weren’t so skittish, but I think I got a few good shots.

Snow SongbirdsI’m still hoping it warms up a bit as I walk through the rest of 2013 and this resolution.

Still, good walk today!

Day Sixty-four

Weak, I Know

Today, I walked up and down and across my driveway dozens of times.  I should probably mention that I was pushing a snow shovel at the time.

We got 8″ to 10″ of snow today, and it was heavy, wet, heart-attack, break-your-back snow.  In order to avoid a heart attack or breaking my back, I shoveled an inch or so every sixty to ninety minutes.  Since I spent so much time walking up and down my driveway, I’m counting it as a walk–weak, I know.

Good day, good shoveling.

Day Twenty-five

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Time of Walk:  2:30 PM

Temperature:  25° F (felt like 13°)

Weather:  Mostly cloudy with almost an inch of new snow on the ground

Despite being the sixth consecutive day with below average temperatures, I decided to walk outdoors and stayed in my neighborhood today.  As I navigated the sidewalks through town, I was surprised by how many footprints there were already in the snow that had just fallen overnight.

As suburbs go, our neighborhood has a lot of foot traffic with dog walkers and commuters walking to and from public transportation.  Back in the day when I was one of those commuters trudging home in the snow (not always planning ahead and wearing boots), I wouldn’t go so far as to curse those who didn’t shovel the walk in front of their homes, but I certainly blessed those who did!

After saying yesterday that this is not a bird photography blog, I do need to tell a bird story–and document it with poor quality pictures!  While on my driveway*, something SWOOPED directly over my head accompanied by an awful chirping sound.  I heard a thud near the back of our car parked nearby.  Among a flurry of feathers, I could see bright red, a male cardinal I assume, and what must be a hawk under our car!

The hawk then flew over to my neighbor’s yard, where he sat on the grass for a few minutes.  With my hands still shaking from the swooping and possible carnage, I was barely able to snap this picture with my phone:

IMG_20130125_084502After the hawk flew away, I went over to the spot where he’d been sitting and took this picture:

IMG_20130125_085110Not that I’m a nature CSI or anything, but with only one tiny drop of blood and two small feathers (and no visible red bird under the hawk above), I’m thinking the cardinal got away under my car, perhaps slightly injured.

After some research, I believe I saw either a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Because the Sharp-shinned hawk is more common and is slightly smaller, I’m guessing that’s what I saw.  Here are some public domain renderings of these accipiters that have me feeling rather sad about the dead rose-breasted grosbeak and meadowlark.

sharpshinnedandcoopershawk   *To protect the integrity of this blog, I have to admit that this actually happened as I was getting out of my car this morning after dropping my son at school, not after my walk.  But it did actually happen!

Good day, good walk.

Day Twenty-three

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Time of walk:  1:00 PM

Temperature:  17° F (Felt like 5°)

Weather:  Partly sunny with flurries

Since I had some open time and was heading in that direction, I decided to take in a westerly portion of the Old Plank Road Trail (a bike and walking trail converted from an old rail line).  This area is fairly unfamiliar to me, so after scouting it out on Google Maps, I parked at a movie theater and accessed the trail near Interstate I-80.  I walked between Mile Markers 16.4 and 17 (both ways)–not a long walk, but long enough with wet feet when it felt like 5°.

OPT Day 23

Although I could tell by the footprints and bike tire markings that several people had been on the trail recently, I didn’t see a soul.  This area is mixed retail, light industrial, and in one area, residential; it goes under some significant electric lines and over I-80.  Unfortunately, from the interstate, this bridge looks like an old rust-belt railroad trestle.

I saw a number of songbirds today, including cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers.  Since these are all birds I have regularly at my feeders, I’m guessing someone in the residential area was feeding them.  I still enjoyed seeing them.

Good day, good walk.