The Best Laid Plans

Northwoods Journal
Thursday, July 3, 2014

We arrived fairly late last night (Wednesday). Our plan had been to leave early to mid-afternoon, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I’m not sure I do know what they say about the best laid plans, beyond that first part. Anyway, we did not get on the road early as hoped. As fate would have it, things exploded at Mark’s work – not literally, just in a technical sense – which meant we didn’t get on the road until after 6 p.m.

As I waited for Mark to get ready to go, I saw this unusual visitor checking out the bird feeders and bath. (This photo was taken through the beagle-drool encrusted front window, so not the best.)

Female Baltimore oriole (?)

Female Baltimore oriole (?)

It was a relief to finally hit the road. Unfortunately traffic was pretty heavy all the way up and people were driving like —– insert your favorite derogatory term here, personally I like “nutbags”. We had at least six close calls that shaved time off my life! I was very happy to finally reach our humble dirt road with absolutely no traffic at nearly 10:30 p.m.
When we approached our driveway, I couldn’t help but be amused at Mark’s total dismay when he realized he was going to have to cut the grass while we are here. I reminded him that it had been a little more than a month since we were here last and odds were pretty high that the grass was going to grow in that amount of time! There wasn’t time to do anything but unload, unpack and fall into bed.

I may have been a bit hasty in removing the electric blanket from the bed when we were here over Memorial Day. It got quite cold overnight and was only 50 degrees when we got up. The logging continues back beyond Sportsmen’s. We could hear the droning of logging equipment before we even got out of bed and it wasn’t long before the trucks were rumbling by, shaking the whole place.

I went ahead and put out the bird feeders, even though I wasn’t overly optimistic. We don’t normally get many birds in the summer months. It was a pleasant surprise to have a trio of white-breasted nuthatches show up right away. I could hear and see a lot of bird activity in the woods just beyond our old shed, so went to see what was going on. There was a blue jay being harassed by a whole flock of small, rather non-descript birds. Every time the blue jay moved, the flock would dive bomb him. The blue jay tried to come and get a peanut off the platform feeder and the harassment continued. He finally called in reinforcements and soon the whole commotion flew off. A couple of hours later the circus flew back in again. Mark has much better far sight than I do and is also better at bird identification but he couldn’t figure out what the smaller birds were.

Mark didn’t waste any time this morning and right away set to tackling the “lawn” – a term I use very loosely here as we don’t really have a lawn in the proper sense. I was in no hurry to do productive work so uncovered my bird jigsaw that I started back in January and finally finished it.  After mowing, Mark did a few other odds and ends of chores. He finally got tired of waiting on me to get dressed and took the dogs for a walk by himself. He said they saw one deer on their walk.

Eventually I finished the puzzle. It’s always satisfying to put in the last piece!

Puzzle complete!

Puzzle complete!

I washed my hair, got dressed, grabbed my camera and went to see what kind of wildflowers I could find. Unfortunately I didn’t spray myself down with insect repellent so I didn’t stay out too long since the mosquitoes swarmed every time I stood still! I wasn’t all that impressed with the images I took but here are a few examples.

Spreading dogbane

Spreading dogbane

Possibly peppergrass?  It was very, very tiny!

Possibly peppergrass? It was very, very tiny!

Thimbleweed

Thimbleweed

The weather was not very good all day. It stayed cold – I was wearing a t-shirt, a sweat shirt and a zip-up hoodie all day! The temperature never got out of the low 60’s. It was mostly cloudy all day and eventually we got rain off and on. It made it hard to be motivated to do much. We did run into town for gas, worms and a newspaper and stopped at a moving sale. Saw a few deer while we were driving about. We came back to eat lunch and with the citronella candle and the Off clip-on we were able to eat out on the porch, even though it was cool. I finally gave in to lethargy and boredom and took a nap.
A rain shower had just passed through mid-afternoon when we decided we needed to shake ourselves awake and take the dogs for a hike and hopefully feel a bit more human again. Mark drove up to Elk Valley and we walked part of the power lines and a motorcycle trail. The good thing about the motorcycle trails is that they meander through really pretty woods and make a longer hike since they don’t go straight from point A to point B. The bad thing about motorcycle trails is that they meander and curve all around so you can never be sure when it will come back out to a major crossing where you can get back to your vehicle! We saw one deer while we were hiking and found a nice blueberry patch. I think we are almost a week too early for the best blueberries, but hopefully more will ripen as the weekend goes on.

We made a nice boiled dinner with new potatoes, ham, and kale fresh from our garden. We didn’t try to eat outdoors. A few more birds showed up at the feeders, a pair of purple finches and a female rose-breasted grosbeak. We also have been battling a robin that is determined to build a nest right in the corner of the roof above the deck. We keep knocking down the nesting materials and then a couple of hours later it is back again. I think this robin may have ADD though because it doesn’t stay at the job for very long at a time.

Since it was cold and cloudy, Mark said we could get an early start on fishing so we left the dishes, loaded up the canoe and headed for the lake. It started to sprinkle on our way there and when we just got to the lake Mark announced he had forgotten the paddles for the canoe. So, we unhitched the trailer and I sped back to get them. I took a moment to contemplate whether or not to grab my raincoat but decided against it. This was unfortunate on my part as by the time I returned to the lake it was raining for real. Two things I really don’t like: being cold and being wet. Being cold and wet doubly sucks. Thankfully it didn’t last terribly long and Mark insisted it was good for the fishing. We got some bites early but they were just small fry.

Eventually the weather cleared up and I got bored so turned to taking photos of the kingbirds that are now sitting their nest, and feeding my worms to the turtle that came begging. We did hear dueling owls calling and we also saw the loons but they were too far away and the light was bad. I took several photos but they were awful, even post-processing couldn’t save them so I deleted them all.

Eastern kingbird sitting the nest.

Eastern kingbird sitting the nest.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird pair.

Eastern kingbird pair.

She turned around in the nest.

She turned around in the nest.

The female – at least I assume it’s the female- got out of the nest, turned the eggs, perched on the branch for a few minutes then hopped back into the nest in a new position.  These photos have a tiny bit of blur to them, probably due to the fact that the canoe is constantly moving even when it’s anchored.

We did catch five nice keepers and Mark said that was enough for us to have “surf and turf” for dinner tomorrow – steak and fish – so we headed in. He figured there was time to clean the fish and still have a campfire. It was amazingly quiet as we sat around the fire. Not many of the neighbors are up. The people on the corner did show up just as we were heading to bed but thankfully weren’t too loud yet! It’s after 11 p.m. and I can barely keep my eyes open now.

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8 Responses to The Best Laid Plans

  1. kathydoremus says:

    Oooh…I like the Kingbird photos. Enjoy your holiday weekend. May the beauty of God’s creation be nourishing to your soul. 🙂

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  2. avian101 says:

    Nice photos Amy! Take care! 🙂

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  3. The female Baltimore oriole is what the first bird is. Great images of the kingbirds! After reading how bad the traffic was, I’m almost happy that I decided to stay home this weekend. The weather is forecast to improve, so I hope that you have a fantastic time the rest of the time you’re there.

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    • Thanks, Jerry! The weather is perfect now and we are having a great time! Except I’m struggling with the mi-fi internet unit so I might not get much posted this weekend! Can’t wait to see what you photographed over the holiday!

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  4. tootlepedal says:

    Traffic is a pain. I am glad that you arrived safely.

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    • It certainly is! I don’t understand people driving like maniacs. One guy cut us off so closely, we thought he was going to take off the front bumper and then he continued to head into the next lane of traffic and nearly caused another crash with the person who was coming up on our left. That was the worst call of the whole trip. Amazing we didn’t end up in a multi-vehicle accident. I was very thankful to arrive safely!

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