Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘nature’

BISON

I have visited the prairie at Natchusa for more years than I care to count. When I first wandered there in the 80’s, the only directions were paper plates with arrows. I think the prairie was huge — 400 acres. Gazing out from the top of the hill, I could see miles of tall grass waving in the wind. The only hint of modern times were the tall electric towers. I was young — able to walk the uneven terrain.

Fast forward 40 years. To say that I’m no longer young is an understatement. Natchusa has increased in size — more than 4000 acres. Three years ago, Bison were reintroduced to the prairie. The herd has grown, more land was set aside for their range. It is no longer possible to walk the acres of prairie.

The third Saturday of September is set aside as Autumn On The Prairie. Knowledgeable people donate their time for tours, demonstrations are scheduled, food is available. I have attended many third Saturdays over the years and I wanted to go. I knew that if my knees prevented my participation, I would be very upset.

Paying attention to my restrictions, I actually took a walking stick to help with the uneven terrain. We arrived early. I was surprised when I learned that a shuttle was available to take us from the parking lot to the entrance. I was impressed — changes had been made. There was a pump for water, a new sturdy bathroom — still chemical but spacious. The entrance now had an open roof with photos of the prairie and a history of its development. The pump, bathroom and entrance were brand new — just finished for the day.

Tickets were being given out for tours of the Bison. My husband got 140 and 141 for us. A shuttle was available to take us down to the Bison fence. Various carts were in service to take us out to the Bison. A person knowledgeable of the herd rode with each cart. The cart we were on had a ramp with a handhold. I COULD DO IT.

I will admit that I didn’t push myself to walk down or back up the hill. It was early in the day, the bison were curious — “Who were we?” — and came close enough to see them easily. We knew the temperature was climbing. The past few days had been in the 90’s with no wind. I was happy that we had not only arrived early but also got an early tour. So many people had arrived, more vehicles were pressed into service.

We stayed for a presentation by the group that saves hawks, falcons and owls. I gathered up my courage and walked up the hill along a path to the top of the hill. Signs were in place naming the various grasses and flowers. I didn’t press my ability and returned down the same path instead of walking through the tall grass.

Seeing the bison was interesting. An area in their habitat was fenced off so that the prairie without the Bison could be compared to their grazing land. Their area had tall flowers and short grass. The fenced in area had VERY TALL grass.

I was grateful that we went, grateful for the shuttles and VERY HAPPY that I was able to walk a tiny bit of the prairie. It was a beautiful day!

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COMPANIONS

I have to admit that I don’t see them but I KNOW that I am seldom alone. Some times their activity is more noticeable. Early on a Sunday morning out in the country, I headed for the 8:00 Mass at St. Patrick’s. As I drove up a small hill, I saw figures on the road ahead. Slowing my speed, as I reached that spot, I saw 4 deer — two adults, two spotted fawns on the side of the road by the cornfield.

I enjoy the guitar music at St. Patrick’s, the songs are printed on loose leaf paper, assembled into a small booklet. The last time I was at Mass, I couldn’t find the song book. I looked over the shoulder of the woman in the front pew to sing the song. That morning I FOUND the booklet in the pew, hiding behind the official songbook. The pages were included for the beginning and ending songs — two songs, 14 and 16, offertory and communion, were missing. No one had a song book in the pew ahead of me, I didn’t know the songs. I couldn’t sing along, so I hummed the tune.

Acorns were already falling at the camper. The deck of our porch was already loaded, even though I had swept them off once before. Thankfully the roof of our deck protected us as they fell. As I pulled into the drive and turned off the car, two acorns banged onto the hood of our car with force. I decided that I needed to back up the car, out of the range of the acorns.

The events of the morning had already caught my attention. But I was surprised when I made a phone call to a friend. After our conversation, my cell phone rang, telling me I had a voice mail message. Calling voice mail, I listened to most of our recent conversation. I have NEVER had that happen before.

I decided that someone was “helping”, but who? I asked my husband to phone his brother — he has 4th stage lung cancer. His brother was fine, staying out of the heat in air conditioning but my husband learned something that I find very interesting. It might of answered my question. That Sunday was his father’s birthday. Where the two father’s having fun on my behalf?

INVITATION CRABAPPLES

By know you know that I enjoy Chicago’s Botanic Garden for many reasons. I don’t have the space, time or energy to maintain a lovely garden myself but I LOVE flowers. I totally enjoy walking the paths, listening to the rushing water on the waterfalls or fountains, and watching as the seasons change.

I try to get to the garden in time for the daffodils. This year I didn’t make it. I ALWAYS try to visit when the crabapples are in bloom. My first visit this year, they were trees in waiting. I totally enjoyed a huge magnolia tree. The Japanese cherry trees were in full bloom as well as the rhododendron in the Japanese Garden. I totally enjoyed the day, took many photos and hoped to return when the crabapples were in bloom.

Just ONE week later, I received an invitation, the crabapples were in bloom. I didn’t hesitate. The next day, sunny but cool found me back in the Garden. This time I arrived earlier, before the bells chimed twelve. This time, once again I found a parking spot in the closest parking lot. THANK YOU!

It is my practice to check out the salads and other food on the menu before I wander the paths. I noticed a key lime tart. I knew it wouldn’t be available when I finished my walk. I decided it needed to accompany me. I wasn’t hungry, but I LOVE key lime pie. It became the second photo I took that day. It wandered with me until I reached the waterfalls. Sitting on a bench — in the sunshine — listening to the rushing water, I totally enjoyed the tart.

The magnolia tree had lost its flowers, the Japanese cherry trees were no longer in bloom, I debated walking the Japanese Garden. I was happy that I did — azalea’s were in bloom, the Japanese retreat house was open, as well as quite a few crabapple trees. I didn’t count the number of photos I took at the Garden. I’m sure it was well over 100. Besides the crabapple trees, I have a photo of two turtles sunning on a couple of rocks. (I overheard a father pointing them out to his son.) I also have a photo of a mother robin feeding her chicks in a nest.

This time I wandered to the island, enjoying the crabapples in bloom in the lanes. White and pink trees were laden with blooms. The red blossoms were still waiting. I noticed a white crabapple tree so full of blossoms that the branches were hidden. A tram passed as I admired the tree. The driver told her group it was a weeping white crabapple. Her favorite tree in the Garden.

Stopping for a salad before leaving, it was a perfect day!

AWAKENED

I had a most interesting week — in a weeks time I have revisited many of the talents and interests I had over the years. Many of them slipped by the wayside without my noticing it. Too busy, too many other things occupying my time. Years ago, I belonged to the Nature Club at our campground. This week, Sunday, I attended a presentation on a wetland area that is only a few miles from our campground. Even though it has been there for quite a few years, I was completely unaware of its existence. The person giving the presentation had interesting slides of the plants, animals and insects that inhabited the area.

Two days later, I saw a member I knew from the Nature Club at a restaurant. The very next day, I ran into another person who had helped me with the float on a parade. The back to back experiences reminded me of not only the fun I used to have, but also how much I have forgotten. Too many years have passed!

That same day, I attended a colored pencil drawing program hosted by the nature club. I haven’t drawn in years — not that I have ever been very skilled. I picked a flower to capture on a wood panel. All the supplies and pencils were provided. The experience reminded me of when I first started painting 30 years ago. It was an invitational program put on by the campground. Bring your body and talent and we will provide the rest. My rendition of that painting opened up a new world for me. I didn’t think I could paint — I was proved wrong. Thankfully the technique I learned this week was easy to adapt and the flower I colored surprised me. Instead of hiding in a drawer, it is occupying a space on our wall. My family thinks I should pick up my paint brushes again. They may be right.

While I was occupied with colored pencils, I learned of nature activities coming up on the weekend. A nature hike and later, a nature presentation of life in early America. Both sounded interesting — I planned to attend. Then I WORRIED. Would I be able to walk on a two mile hike? Would my knees allow me to do it? I decided that I would hike as far as I could then walk back and leave.

I didn’t need to worry. I arrived at the prearranged spot and saw the leader putting down a plastic ground cover. The plan was to DRAW, then hike. I WONDERED HOW not only would I get DOWN on the ground, HOW would I get back UP?

I needn’t have worried. The leader asked me to wait, he had something in the car for me. HE DID! He had his mother’s wooden folding chair. I WAS VERY COMFORTABLE. I still couldn’t draw — a bird, copied out of one of his books. (My grandson could have done better!) A tree — some resemblance but nothing to brag about. I think I will try to pick up his suggestion and DRAW every day.

The presentation — EXCELLENT! I convinced my husband to accompany me. He was glad that I did. Brian “Fox” Ellis became Prince Maximilian in 1832. I was reminded of the many hours I spent in storytelling.

The only thing missing was writing. OH! I GUESS I’M DOING IT NOW!

Years ago we had bird feeders hanging in our yard. A hummingbird visited a few weeks ago — reminding me. This weekend, we hung up hummingbird feeders. We had a visit from either one hummingbird twice or two separate hummingbirds. WELCOME. ( I have plants that are beneficial for hummingbirds in my garden. The feeder is more permanent.)

TIMING

It never ceases to amaze me — too many times to count — I am at the right place at the right time to either help someone or be helped in return. Maybe I will accidentally meet someone on the street who I haven’t seen in a long time. Or I will hear something that helps to solve a problem or question that is bothering me.

We are at the camper. This week I took our dog, Robin, for a morning walk. Standing in the middle of the path, I came face to face with a yearling deer. (My best estimate of its age.) It was very interested not only in myself, but in Robin too. Now I don’t know if Robin saw the deer, she didn’t bark or pull on her leash. The deer just stood in the middle of the path and twitched its ears. Of course, I kept up a running conversation on my end. We got close enough that if I would have had a long shadow, it would have touched before the deer jumped off the path. Then Robin wanted to chase.

I will admit that I’m not sure what is occurring. Today is the anniversary of my Mother’s birth. Am I receiving “HELP?”
I haven’t put in special spacing or changed the font to italics but that is what is appearing on my screen.

Do I make God laugh? That seems to be my mission in life. I tell God my plans, LAUGHTER — things change.

Just because — I’m going to ramble on. I’m most interested in the formatting of the thought ramble! It will be most interesting when I publish it, to see what it turns out to be.

This morning, I took Robin for a walk. This time she didn’t refuse to walk, didn’t stop and lay down, but continued down the trail. This morning I totally enjoyed picking black caps (black raspberries)along the trail, freshly washed from the morning rain.
I stopped to fill my scooter with gas at the service center and said hello to an old acquaintance. As I passed him, I noticed that his face seemed thinner. I turned the scooter around and went back for a chat. I was correct in my thinking. He was 30 pounds thinner, having had surgery for a valve that was in trouble. It was allowing his lungs to fill up with fluid. He also had four blockages fixed. I can see his daughter’s “help” with this surgery. She passed more than fifteen years ago from Leukemia. I’ve known the family for years. It didn’t surprise me when he remarked that his mother in law was out, at 88 years young, pushing a broom on the deck this morning.

I think this thought ramble is long enough. It will be interesting to see how it saves and what formatting it publishes in.

One last thought, last year I heard that a restaurant had the best pizza. It was at the end of the year and since my husband does not like pizza, I didn’t stop. This year I had an occasion to stop. I ordered a personal pan pizza to share with my grandson. A) he is ALWAYS hungry. B) He would remind me of sodium, and help me stay relatively safe.
IT WAS DELICIOUS!

The strange formatting is still on the copy of this thought ramble before I uploaded it but it changed to normal on wordpress. I guess it was just for my confusion!

RECOVERY YEAR ONE

Last summer, I wandered the streets and nature trails of Woodhaven Lakes with a great deal of sadness and hope for the future. Most of the shady streets were now bathed in sunshine. Many of the nature trails opened up to bare landscape or fallen — twisted trees. The devastation from the tornado was every where.

A year has passed and the landscape has changed. Most of the tornado damage has been removed — trailers, sheds, porches, decks and trees. The nature trails no longer are bare — wild flowers and other plants have filled up the spaces. Some new trees have been planted.

New trailers, room additions, porches, sheds and decks are every where. Many new trees have been planted on the owners lots. It will be a long time before they provide the missing shade but progress is being made.

It is still very easy to determine what areas have been affected by the tornado. Shade and huge trees are missing. Some huge trees have remained, either because of stronger roots or the direction of the winds so the terrain isn’t bare.

I asked a real estate broker if there had been a large change in the population. Her reply was that although some owners have left, many new people have arrived. They came out to look at the after effects of the tornado, liked what they saw and bought property.

We lost more than nine trees at the front of our lot and many more on the sides and back. We now have sunshine and a new deck with a roof to provide the missing shade. The roof even has a fan to provide some air movement when the breeze is missing. I have to admit that I am spending a lot of time out on the deck.

I didn’t realize how much the tornado had affected me. I had a deep sadness that did not want to lift. It was very hard to explain, in fact I wasn’t even aware that it was there. Now that it has lifted — I DON’T MISS IT. Seeing all the new growth — the new changes must have helped.

Fall has arrived. Soon we will close up the trailer for the winter. Many years ago we spent time at the camper in the winter. Cross country skiing, walks in the high snow, Christmas shopping all were part of our winter. I had a small Christmas tree, wreath and lights to decorate the trailer. We haven’t wandered out there in the winter for years. Wandering in high snow is no longer as easy as it was when I was young. Staying inside, sitting in a warm camper doesn’t have the same draw as when I was younger. Lets not even talk about the ice that forms on the roads over night.

This year the small tree and wreath will stay packed away. We will turn off the heat and winterize. We will bring all the food home. I will admit that I miss the days when we left stuff out for the occasional weekends away.

VIEW FROM THE PORCH

When we bought our property at the campground, we knew we were on the edge of the property. We didn’t realize how lucky we were. In the early days of the campground, cows were in the pasture across the road. I often walked across to visit. Various dogs of ours also crossed the road to visit the cows. I don’t think the cows were impressed. Time has passed and the cows are gone. Market conditions might have been the cause. Now the fields are planted with crop — grass, corn, beans, hay depending on the season and year. Our resident deer love to cross the road to graze on the various offerings. This year a mother and two fawn are going out for dinner.

Sometime along the way, a small park was installed across from us. Even though it is very small, it is a gathering place for many of the children. Last year when the tornado struck and demolished many trees, the second day we were allowed to return, I heard children’s voices coming from behind the trees. I wrote a speak up sheet asking that the park be replaced. I learned that the park hadn’t been in their plans but the speak up sheet worked. The park is even smaller — only a baby swing and a bigger swing, with a slide set. Last weekend 10 children were there at one time followed by other various groups. A red haired teenager took advantage of the swing and the quiet to have some quiet time of her own.

Our property faces south from which a breeze comes on most days. Thanks to the tornado, many of the trees are gone — the breeze isn’t blocked. When the temperature was in the 90’s, the breeze was a very welcome addition. Another advantage for us is that we are not close to the pools or the lakes. Even on busy weekends, our place is not crowded. Not having other campers across the road is also a blessing. Since it is so open, we can watch the lightening and the storms further south. Farmers cutting their crop. Once or twice a summer we are treated to crop dusting planes.

Recently we had the opportunity to purchase a self propelled used lawn mower. We have a service cut our lawn but not our son’s. The weed whacker my husband used was becoming too much work — equipment was needed. In the course of our conversation at the store, we learned that an antique tractor run was scheduled for the next day. Imagine our surprise when we saw the tractors on the back road, right across from our porch. I didn’t realize what I was seeing at first, so I didn’t count until 10 tractors had passed but I did get my camera for a couple of close shots.

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