Yanking some of the Golden Alexander in my garden (which is technically not invasive, but does spread and needs some aggressive yanking to control it), I happened upon this little critter enjoying one of the leaves. I was happy for the help in keeping the plant under control.
At 3:00 p.m. yesterday, with school back in session, the Lake St. Clair Metro Park had few people but lots of wildlife, including these Canada geese, a crane and heron. I always feel fortunate to see a crane or heron, but to see both in one day was a joy.
I had another dog-sitting gig this week, with a sweet Brittany Spaniel pup who happens to live on a lake, so it was like being on vacation. Just before coming to the lake, my sister brought me a box of chocolates from Paris, and so I enjoyed them while watching the dog play by the water. Life is good.
All week, I felt incredibly blessed. It seemed that one good thing after another kept coming my way. I finished my Internship in Ignatian Spirituality, a two-year program with quite rigorous requirements; got invited to speak at a fundraising dinner for a local non-profit; was asked to consult on a project; the last of my home-improvements projects was completed; and I got to share the lake view with several friends who came to visit. A very good week.
At the same time, a cough has settled in my chest, and I can’t seem to shake it. It worries me because I am someone who rarely gets sick—and when I do, I usually respond to medicine. Not this time, though.
I am doing what I can about the cough, following doctor’s orders (getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, taking my medicine) and, at the same time, trying to focus more on the good things happening in my life.
Balancing life’s challenges with life’s blessings is a work we are all called to.
Being grateful for the good in my life and putting more energy into the positives helps tip the scales toward the blessings. I can’t ignore the challenges, but I can keep them in perspective.
And I can remember that most growth comes from challenges. I am where I am because of the struggles I have gone through.
After a particularly difficult time in my life, I came to believe that God holds all the cards, and my job is to play the hand I am dealt. Sometimes that hand is a winner, and other times I just want to throw in the cards and ask for a re-deal.
God invites me to stick with it, even when my cards are lousy, to keep looking for glimmers of hope and to remember that God is with me through it all.
Our community college offers enrichment programs for retirees at very reasonable prices. I signed up for a summer series of five events (a lecture and tour of the Zoo’s Penguinarium, a talk on hiking in Southeast Michigan, two hikes and a canoe trip on a voyageur canoe).
The hiking talk was at the Community College on Monday, and I learned loads of useful information that would have helped when I was hiking in the Cotswolds (without a cell phone or map) or in the Lake District in northern England in November (when it got dark much earlier than in July) or in Sedona last January (where it was so cold when we left it did not occur to us to bring water). I came away from that talk thinking that I could be the poster child for what not to do when hiking. Note to self–always bring cell phone, printed map (in case my cell battery dies), compass, water, snack, flashlight.
The first hike was this morning at Stony Creek Metro Park, one of a network of thirteen parks in Southeast Michigan.
Stony Creek encompases more than 4,000 acres and has trails and paths for walking, running and bike riding. We walked along a trail through prairies and woods for a little more than two miles. Here are some pics I took along the way.
In the process of simplifying/purging, I came across photos from a Sepember 2009 trip to the shores of the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada, to see polar bears. The hunting lodge where we stayed is on the migratory path of the polar bears and between hunting seasons, the camp owners decideed to offer opportunities to see polars bears.
We flew in on a four-seater plane, landing on a clearing along the Bay. The accommodations were austere (cabins only had heat at night and the bathrooms were in the main lodge) but the food was fantastic.
The camp was enclosed by a high fence and we only left the camp with armed escorts. Every day, we ventured out on makeshift touring vehicles (think ATVs pulling, small flat-bed trailers with old car seats bolted to them). Our guides were two man who had grown up in this remote area of Manitoba, 150 miles from the nearest city.
The opportunity to see polar bears every day, in their natural habitat, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were fortunate to have an aspiring photographer on the trip (my camera batteries died the first day), and these are his photographs.
I remember how blessed I felt to be one of eleven people on this trip, standing on the shores of the Hudson Bay, with beautiful flowers and fall colors all around–and polar bears in abundance.
My late-blooming Black-eyed Susans (Rudbekia), which grow along my front porch, have bloomed. I will be dividing these next spring as they need more room to grow.