Yesterday morning, I went for a hike at a new location, St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois. It’s less than five miles from my house, about a ten-minute drive, and I had been there a couple of times, but I had never hiked. The parking lot was largely wide open when I arrived. Wednesday was s hot and humid, unseasonably warm HOT for mid-June which explained the parking lot.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 15, 2022
This is me and this week’s W^2 post.
I snapped this photo Monday morning before I left the lake for a week at home.
It was a cool late spring morning, yes, it is still spring for another few days, and the temperature was in the mid-50s and sunny. I always enjoy my time by the lake, it’s restful, relaxing, and it puts a smile on my face, even when I have say goodbye.
By the time I had reached home it was in low 90s and thick clouds hung in the air. Severe storms passed through the area in the late afternoon and early evening, but I didn’t feel a drop of rain, but I could feel the energy in the air.
A heat wave is rolling through the Midwest and bringing excessive heat warnings and the possibility of severe weather this evening. I am going to lay low and keep my head down, a smile on my face, and dedicate time to those things I can do.
Today is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, a smile on face, a song in my heart, and skip in my step.
It’s Wednesday and Day 64. The past week has been my last full week of summer break. The school year restarts for me this coming Monday and Thursday for our students. I am excited and a little sad as I am every summer when school restarts.
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
The past couple of nights we’ve had severe weather pass through the area. It’s that time of the year when thick humid unstable air masses cause thunderstorms to develop late in the day. Monday’s weather spawned six tornadoes which touched down to the west of us in mostly rural areas causing damage trees and minor damage to structures. We got very little rain from the storm.
Last night’s storms rolled through the area bringing more rain, but no tornadoes.
Yesterday, our school hosted an event for our incoming sixth graders. Even though school hasn’t started I went in to help and be a welcoming face, answer questions, and help supervise. I met many of my new students who likely will remember me more than I will them, there were a lot new students wandering the hallways. Continue reading Days of Summer: Week 9 and crickets→
It’s Day 57 and I have a dozen days remaining in my summer break. I slept late this morning. Sleeping late is a luxury of summer or anytime when the following day comes without a schedule or place to be early in the morning. Sleeping late is a direct consequence of living without a schedule or maybe staying up late to watch the stars shine brightly in the summer sky, or return home from a family.
“Summer was our best season – everything good to eat, a thousand colors in a parched landscape.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Last night all three of us went to a concert by the band Chicago. B and I listened to them in our youth and the songs were part of the soundtracks of us growing up. O got a glimpse of the music her parents listened to as they figured out how to be adults. It was a fun concert, and the band finished their performance with one of their best-known songs, “25 or 6 to 4”, for their encore.
It was a late night and we got home well past midnight.
We are up at the lake for the race, the famous canoe race. Canoe race weekend is an important time for us as a family and I have written about this weekend in past years. The canoe race is always the last full weekend of July.
The canoe race is begins in town and ends 120 miles down the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan where the river empties into Lake Huron. For many, the race defines this town, but Grayling is much more.
The rivers have been important where trapping along the three rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon – which begin here in the Michigan Highlands was the first industry when Europeans arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Grayling, the town, was established as a logging town when it was settled in the late nineteenth century. Logging, forestry, and wood products are still key industries in town, but tourism – hunting, fishing, and recreation – is the industry that sustains this little town near the headwaters of the Au Sable River.
When the pandemic began last year, the cottage along the lake was my hideaway. I spent the last two months of the 2019-20 school year teaching remotely from our place on the lake up here. I felt safer away from our densely populated home region. In many ways we were safer here – there are significantly less people in the county and the reported COVID cases were significantly lower here than our suburban county.
And because there are less people wildlife thrives and is more abundant in the absence of people.
During this time by the lake shore, the beginning of the pandemic, change, real lasting deep change, began for me and my family.
We spent more time paying attention to nature and spent more time walking. I walked more last year with my wife and kids than I remember. I also stopped listening to music, podcasts, or audio books when I walked and I started listening to the birds, the trees, and nature around me.
And, I have paid more attention to nature.
For Father’s Day, my wife gave me a couple for bird feeders and shepherd’s double crook to hang the feeders for our lake house. I placed it just off the deck where we can see it when we are sitting in the front room or on the deck. Continue reading Friday morning birding on Saturday→
It’s Wednesday again, somehow that happens with quite a bit of regularity and without prompting. Wednesday follows Tuesday and precedes Thursday, always.
It’s early in the morning and my coffee has yet to take full effect, but it seems as if the past week has been fluid, but when I look back at the daily Instagram photographs, there were distinct events, moments which mattered.
The back yard is in full bloom. My wife’s planning and hard work are evident. My role is garden assistant and enjoyer. Nature has cooperated by providing ample sunshine and rain.
It’s fortieth day of summer break and there are twenty-eight days or four weeks until summer break is finished for this year and school restarts. It’s been a pleasant time for rest, relaxation, projects, and a bit of renewal.
This fall marks the beginning of my twenty-third year as a teacher. It’ll be the twelfth year of blogging. I’ve written almost 700 posts in that time and there have been a few repeats, today will be a repeat of sorts.
If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a blogger, sometimes it’s good to go back before going forward. Abraham Lincoln once said or wrote or both,
“The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”
I know it’s probably not advisable to spend too much time dwelling on the past, for there is little to gain as the past cannot be changed. We can only learn from our past and endeavor be better and do better. Recently, I read a blog post and responded with reference to a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali,
“……. if you are the same person you were thirty years ago you have wasted thirty years.”
“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
But I digress.
Big Rocks. This morning I took a purposeful walk at the Morton Arboretum. I was there a couple of days ago, on Friday, to take in the new exhibit Human-Nature. I thought I had a photo of the Big Rock, but I couldn’t find one, so I this morning I hiked to the Big Rock and back retrieving the photo below.
It’s a big rock all right. Geologists believe the rock was deposited by a glacier in the last ice age some 13,000 years ago. Much of the upper Midwest was shaped and formed by the ice age.
But the big rocks I am referring to are the important things in my life. During summer break, I always make more time to focus on renewal than I can during the school year. I can focus on it because there is more time, I am not planning lessons, grading papers, or teaching students. I have the time to do what is important, but when school resumes, as it always does, I slowly fall back into the same pattern of behaviors focusing on what is urgent and pressing instead of my relationships, my health and fitness, and our home. It’s a delicate balance. Continue reading Big Rocks and summer→
It’s Day 29 of summer break and it’s July. If July were a color, I think it would be yellow. July is the caution light of summer for me. It’s the reminder that school is closer than it was in June, but there are plenty of days remaining to keep making count.
This past two weeks we have entertained guests at the lake, two separate guests – this first guests were O’s classmates who celebrated the transition from high school to college – all three are heading off to school in August in Michigan. This past week we entertained friends from wife’s hometown – her buddy and high school classmate and his wife. They’ve joined us before, and we always have a great time together.
This year we took a road trip to the Upper Peninsula and had a blast. We were there the entire day and well into the night. We passed through Paradise three times on our journey!
It was my first time to visit Lake Superior and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point where we spent most of our time walking the beach looking for agates – rocks formed inside volcanic and metamorphic rocks. We visited on July 1st and Canada Day, and we could see Canadian hills in the distance. We decided to forego the museum for lunch at Tahquamenon State Park which I had learned about from my blogging friend Dawn at Change is Hard. The falls did not disappoint we visited the lower falls first, enjoyed lunch, and took in the upper falls before we left. We finished our day with a trip to an International Dark Sky Park at Wilderness State Park before heading home. It was a fun trip, but we pulled into the lake house drive well after midnight.
“Summer is for surrendering; winter is for wondering.” ― Debasish Mridha
“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” ― Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
The summer days are gliding past, it is hard to believe it is Day 22. I’ve enjoyed the first twenty-one days and made them count and the past seven days of summer have been filled with up, downs, ins, outs, and a lot of rain at home as well as by the lake shore.
O and I returned home late Sunday afternoon for a quick visit home to grab a couple of things we needed before returning this morning for the Independence Day weekend.
Monday morning, Fern and I awakened to a very moist garden and yard. It had rained most of the previous week and W (our lawn service) had not been able to mow the lawn. The mid-June flowers were blooming and there was a closeness that only can be felt in the summer. It’s the point where you can feel the moistness of the air. It rained and was cloudy, but Fern and I ventured out for a walk and we both came home exhausted and thirsty.
And as the song’s chorus reminds me,
This could possibility be the best day ever! (This could possibility be the best day ever,) And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better. So, make every minute count, jump up, jump in, and seize the day, And let’s make sure that in every single possible way, Today is gonna be a great day!
Making the Days Count, one day at a time, especially when it rains.
What was one of your ups (or downs) this past week?
It’s Sunday morning and the sun is shining, for now, and it’s the last Sunday in June.
We’ve had rain the last couple of days and the lawn, and the garden are rebounding.
Yesterday morning I watched the fog lifting and walked outside to take a photo from the end of the dock – yesterday’s days of summer Instagram post and I discovered a couple of spider webs which had been spun overnight. It reminded me of the story of Charlotte in E.B. White’s classic story, Charlotte’s Web.
Saturday morning spider web, spun overnight
Sunday morning spider – spinning int he wind
Earlier this morning Fern and I stepped outside between showers, and I discovered an exceptionally large spider.
I’ve been watching the birds – especially the blue jays – as they visit the feeders. I’ll see a flash or shadow and look up to see a blue jay the deck either railing, the ledge, or the arm of one of the deck chairs before it hops to the seed feeder. Continue reading Late June Sunday morning→