Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Salty Paws Continued

     The city sprayed salt on our road again today, for no discernible reason.  
     It was quite a slog to walk through the golf course this morning, so Hudson and I returned to Sidecut Park this afternoon.  Hudson was a little annoyed that I asked him to pause, but I wanted to show how nice the trails are there.  The sun came out about halfway through our stroll.

     I would guess there is an 85% chance of seeing deer on any given visit to Sidecut - no matter the time of day.  These ladies were close enough to the trail for me to get a decent photo with my little point and shoot.

Salty Paws

     We received quite a bit of unexpected snow yesterday.  That prompted the city to salt all day long, which made it almost impossible to walk Hudson in the neighborhood.  He has a wonderful coat for wet or cold weather, but he doesn't tolerate salt on his paws.
     So, we headed for Sidecut Park.  There are no paved pathways to plow or salt, and there is persistent enough foot and paw traffic to keep the snow packed on the trails.  The trees were outlined in white.  Fluffy flakes were falling.  Sounds were muffled.  The deer were gracefully setting out on their feeding at dusk.  The river is still open and was full of geese and ducks.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After

     Yesterday morning was cold and clear.  Hudson and I took a long walk around the flood plain.  The deer herd was feeding in the meadow.  A curious gal came toward us while I paused to let Hudson sniff a bit, but they all scampered off as we went to walk around them.  I know there are at least three bucks in the area, but yesterday I saw just one (barely visible to the left).

     My extended family started arriving around 11:30am, including my maternal uncle out on a day pass from a nursing home in Wauseon.  This is his very active and outgoing granddaughter Faith, who was quite pleased with the deer hat my sister knitted for her, and the magic set I gave to her brother.

     The house was quiet by 6pm and Dan, Hudson and I snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie.  Normally I would be feeling a bit lonely today, but Dan doesn't go to work until this evening and we have a snowstorm to watch.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Squirrelly Behavior

     We have many Fox squirrels in our yard.  They are fun to watch.  I used to get upset when they raided my bird feeders, but since I switched to safflower seed they are no longer interested. I don't even mind that they moved into the wood duck box I put up in the dying Ash tree by the river. 
I photographed the one above in February of 2011, basking in the sun on the back of our patio furniture.

     This morning I noticed one on the patio steps.  He was busy with something up and down the junction of the sandstone steps.  He would pause periodically and chew. There is moss there, but I've never seen a squirrel eating it in any of the other many locations around the patio.
Does anyone know what is behind this squirrelly behavior?

Saturday, December 15, 2012


My friend Cathy talked me into going to Westgate Chapel's "Bethlehem Experience".  I'm glad she did.  

     We heard there were camels and we heard right - not just one, but four.  There was also a burro, four or five sheep, and two goats.  All the animals were amazingly clean and quiet (except for one bleat early on from a sheep on a leash); not your average camels, burro, sheep and goats.

     "Chapel" is somewhat misleading.  The place was cavernous.  We were led to various places in the church by friendly parishioners.  The major part of the event was nine live dioramas (The Journey of the Magi is above). The only human movement I saw was the baby Jesus.  He obviously couldn't be expected to sit still, but I don't know how the other people did it for three hours each of three nights. Maybe they traded places, but I didn't see it.
About half way through, there was a reproduction of the ancient town, with plenty of opportunity to interact with the various businesses.  
At the end there was cookies and hot chocolate and yet another video encouraging people to come to services.  The event was free and not a donation receptacle in sight.

Lunch and Learn

     Yesterday Phyllis, her friend Anne LaRue, and I visited the Toledo Day Nursery's Jefferson Avenue site.  I've been a big fan of the nursery for years and it was fun to show off the place.  

We took the effort to remove our shoes so we would be allowed into the "infant" area (ages 0 to 18 months).  The kids were in the middle of lunch and were surprised to see us.
I love the low windows that allow the kids to see outside.

     The fixtures in the bathroom are just the right size for the preschoolers.  Phyllis was glad they had an adult toilet in another part of the building for her to use.

Once our tour was over we washed our hands and had lunch with the preschoolers.  They were all excited to have company.  When they had finished eating, they scraped their plates and put the dishes in pails of soapy water.  Then they quietly looked at books until everyone could join in circle time for a story before their nap.

Toledo Day Nursery is the 4th oldest daycare in the nation, founded in 1871 for children of working civil war widows.  They receive the highest accrediting awards and it's easy to see why once you visit - there is nurturing in abundance.  I hope they stay in business for another 140 years.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hanukkah Gone Awry!

Hudson was in (not so) fine form last night at the Dessner's.  
While presents were being distributed, he pounced on the appetizer tray.
This did not go over well.

As if that wasn't bad enough, he decided he wanted Fin's dog toy present.

Fin thought it was okay to let him play with it for a while (what a nice dog host).

Eventually, the furry, squeakiness was too much for Hudson.  For the safety of all, the beast needed to be extinguished.  This took some time and energy.  Fin started to wonder if he might want that toy after all.

On second thought, it looks like Hudson was much more interesting.  
The two parties decided there were no hard feelings, although Hudson's mom is going to make him buy Fin another toy!

All ended well with a delicious dinner.   
Susan and Dan raise a toast of a latke and a dreidel in wishing a Happy Hanukkah to everyone!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Tradition

It was time today for our annual visit to the Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm.

A pen with goats was a new addition this year.  Hudson had never seen one before.  The goats acted like they had never seen a dog before, either.

We love Frasier firs.  The proprietor, Duke Wheeler, sent us on quite a walk in search of a fresh one.

Dan said this tree "spoke to him".
Hudson liked it, too.

We each had a complimentary hot dog while we waited for our tree to be brought up to the work area.  Here it is being jiggled. 
We could have sat by the fire, but there were too many small children nearby with hot dogs in hand - easy pickings for a bold wiry terrier. 

Santa wasn't working too hard, but the young men loading trees were.

Our little tree is up in the sun room now and the house smells lovely. 
We'll decorate some other time;that was enough adventure for today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Walking Stick

     We've lived in our home for 19 years and this is only the second walking stick I've seen here.  This one was ambulating across our screened-in porch a few weeks ago.  He (or she) was hard to miss at 7 or 8 inches from tip to tail.  In the right environment, he would blend right in.

Friday, November 2, 2012


     The Toledo Naturalist's Association held a field trip on September 29 to look for mushrooms north of Monclova Road and west of Girdham Road in Oak Openings Metropark.  I'd say we were pretty successful.

Amanita muscaria

Bluet (or Blewitt)




Club fungus


Honey mushroom

Lycoperdon perlatum

Grifola frondosa


Thanks to Cathy Wilson for help with identification. Please let me know if we have misidentified any.

Friday, October 19, 2012

American Chestnut

     This is the third and most recently discovered seed producing American Chestnut tree in the Oak Openings Metropark.  American Chestnut trees are now rare.  Most have been killed by an asian bark fungus introduced from Japan to New York sometime prior to 1904.  Until around 1930 this tree was an important source of wood and both animals and humans enjoyed the seeds.  This specimen is small compared to the former average of 100 feet, but is larger enough for us to know it is not likely infected.  Infected trees sprout from roots and remain as an understory shrub.  
     The three trees are isolated from each other by almost a mile.  It is difficult to know how isolated they are from the nearest infected Chestnuts. 
     Several organizations are experimenting with hybrids resistant to the fungus.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Monitoring Perks

Our duty as plant monitors for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area is to record the location and numbers of endangered and threatened plant species in the park system.  While traipsing around the park, we often come across other interesting natural phenomena.

This is an ant mound photographed this spring in one of the meadows we visit.

We found this badger hole last week.  

The footprint is fairly distinctive and means this is an active den.

These shells left from turtle hatchlings were found on an open dune. 

This "bowl and doily" spider web is commonly seen strung between stems in meadows.  The web is only 2 or 3 inches wide and is beautiful in the morning dew.  Read more about this spider here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Glass Half Full

     I made the mistake the other day of remarking that Hudson has been sleeping in lately (a relative term; for Hudson, this means not getting up until 6am).  The last few nights he has resumed his old habit, and because he did, I was able to enjoy this brief, but beautiful sunrise.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Northern Leopard Frog

     Last Friday while monitoring at a wet meadow, we came across this Northern Leopard Frog - otherwise known as a Meadow Frog because they spend much of their time in meadows.  He really is quite a handsome fellow.   

  Leopard Frogs can have a background color of either green or brown, but in my experience are more commonly green.  I was unable to find out if the same individual can change color over time, which would be a definite advantage.  This one certainly was well suited to hiding in the fall landscape  (he's in the center of the photo above).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Inadequate Camera

     Two mornings ago I saw what I never remember seeing before - a complete rainbow.  It appeared ahead of a storm front. Each end had a double rainbow.  Unfortunately, neither phenomena was captured by my phone!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bee House

This is a bee house for native bees.  It's not really a house, but a place for them to lay their eggs.  I've had one in my garden for many years. They don't last for more than a few seasons, because woodpeckers love to peck on the wood.  Sometimes they peck to get to the bee larvae and sometimes they just seem to peck on the roof and sides for fun.  (If I was a more conscientious bee house owner, I would insert straws into the holes and take them into the refrigerator for safe keeping over the winter).

This is one of two bee houses my father-in-law made for my birthday this year.  He has patiently waited for evidence of bee activity.  I suppose the holes may have been used by another insect and I welcome any help with identification - if it is possible by the type of plug made.
Learn more about native bees here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Nose Knows

     Ragweed season typically starts around August 15 and is caused by both Common (pictured above) and Giant Ragweed.  Normally the Goldenrods bloom at the same time and, because they are more noticeable (the yellow flowers in the photo below), many people mistakenly believe they are the cause of their allergic rhinitis.  


     Only pollen that is light enough to go up one's nose can cause nose allergies.  That pollen happens to be flying around because Ragweed is a wind pollinated plant (as are grasses and many trees).  Take a look at Ragweed and you will see there are no insects on the drab green flowers.  Goldenrod flowers, however, are covered with all manner of bees and other insects.  The heavy pollen sticks to their legs and is redistributed amongst the flowers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

X-Rated Mushroom

     Our plant counting expedition was rained out this morning, but here is a photo of a mushroom we came across on our outing last week.  The diameter is about 10 mm and the length about 25 mm.  The common name is a Stinkhorn, the scientific genus Mutinus.  A black, gooey, stinky mass will appear at the end of the mushroom.  This attracts flies, who carry the spores away.  This link provides more information - including the x-rating.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nibble, Nibble

     Northwest Ohio has been receiving a fair amount of rain in the last month or so.  This has led to some beautiful mushroom blooms.  

     Cathy Wilson is my friend and mushroom advisor.  She helped me identify this as an Omphalotus species, which are fluorescent.  I didn't get a chance to see this for myself, but I'll give it a try if I find one again.

The common name for this is Chicken of the Woods.

     This is likely a type of button mushroom.  The entire mushroom - or what's left of it - is about 7 mm. long.  I once read that mushrooms have little nutritional value, but I have since then seen several squirrels and chipmunks eating them.  I can imagine a little mouse nibbling on this one.