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April 3rd, 2004 - Phil's Rambling Rants

April 3rd, 2004

April 3rd, 2004
10:52 pm

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A good (if windy) day to be outside
After I finally got out of the house, I talked to my neighbor Don Mathews, who kindly offered to help me with the tree that fell over so that it had a few branches on my roof. He loaned me a ladder which we carried over, and I actually climbed up on my own roof. I felt very precarious getting from the ladder onto the roof (and getting from the roof back onto the ladder was worse), but other than that it wasn't bad. Fortunately, none of the weight of the tree was actually on the branches, so we hacked them off, and then Don tied a tow strap to the tree and pulled it away from the house into the middle of the yard.

After lunch, I went for a walk in the woods at Homer Lake (officially, the Salt Fork River Forest Preserve), a small but nice park in Champaign county a few miles from my house. It was so windy that even though the thermometer reported a temperature of 60 degrees, it felt a little chilly, and I didn't wear a heavy enough jacket, so I didn't take as long a walk as I usually do, but I watched and took pictures of geese, a great blue heron, and a small red-headed sparrow thingy that even my mom the bird watcher wasn't able to identify with certainty, but she thinks it's a purple finch.

The most interesting moment of the walk was while I was standing on the shore of the lake trying to adjust the strap on my belt pouch and I realized that there was a muskrat swimming in the lake, about 3 feet from me. I must have moved too suddenly as I reached for the camera, because the muskrat dived straight down into the lake; when he came up a few yards away, I was able to snap one picture, which didn't come out too well.

As I was walking near the parking area, waiting for the sun to go down (partly in hope of a photogenic sunset, and partly to avoid having to drive west into the setting sun), a pair of pheasants flushed, and I actually got a poor but recognizable picture of the male flying away. Pheasants are quite common, and once I learned to recognize their call, I understood that they're always around when I'm at a place like Homer Lake, but I hardly ever see them, and this is the first time I've gotten even a crummy picture of one.

(Someday, maybe I'll get with it enough to actually set up a web site that I could actually put some of the pictures I take on, so I could actually include the pictures I'm talking about.)

Mostly, though, I was walking in the woods for the sake of walking in the woods. It's nice to see spring actually coming in the form of the leaves on the bushes and ground plants that are coming out, but mostly, just being surrounded by nature is healing to my soul. I needed that.

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