Friday, December 4, 2009

Sophie's Turn: Nature Walks

Where did autumn go? I was wondering this on Monday, the last day of November, as I took advantage of a little sunshine and warmer temperatures (50's) to put up Christmas lights and take care of a few neglected gardening chores. A few geraniums were potted up and brought inside, and two of the potted mums that still showed some signs of life were planted in the garden in the hopes they will survive until next fall. Everything else that didn't get done during this wet and busy fall will just have to wait until spring.

With the garden put to bed for the winter, this is a good time to sort through some unused picture files and finally put together a post I had planned a month ago. In an attempt to enjoy the last remants of fall, I've taken Sophie on a couple of nature walks. She has plenty of room to run around our yard each day, but I thought it would be good for her to have some different experiences. This week we visited one of my favorite places to walk, the prairie restoration area at Meadowbrook Park, and earlier this fall I took her to a local forest preserve just a 10 minute drive from my house, which we refer to as Homer Lake.

Sophie often lies by my side as I sit at the computer, and since Toby and Coconut have been allowed to guest post here, I've decided to let her provide the narration for the photos. Please keep in mind she just turned a year old, so she's not too literate yet, though she is quite articulate in making her wishes known. Here is her perspective:

On my birthday this week, my Mom took me to Meadowbrook Park.

We had to walk over a bridge. Mom stopped to look for the beaver dam she had read about in the paper. She thinks that might be one of them at the far edge of the river. But I didn't smell any beavers here . . . um, what's a beaver?

This is the path we followed on our walk. Mom said we had to stay on the sidewalk, but I wanted to follow all those strange smells off to the side. There must be lots of creatures living in these trees and shrubs.

We stopped to look at trees, like this one with berries on it.

And we looked at plants. Mom says this is goldenrod.

And these are milkweed pods. Mom says that butterflies like these, but I didn't see any. I wonder where all the butterflies are? I like butterflies; they're fun to chase.

Most of the plants were all dried up like these. Mom says they look really pretty in the summer when they are different colors, but I like everything in black and white anyway.

We had a good walk, but Mom grabbed my leash and made me sit when I saw a squirrel running next to the path. I really wanted to chase that squirrel! I bet I could have caught him, too. We also saw some other dogs, but Mom kept a tight hand on my leash and wouldn't let me say hello. I don't know why not; I just wanted to play with them.

We saw other people, too. Mom finally let me say hello to a nice lady after I whined a lot and the lady said she liked dogs. She was a nice lady. Mom says I can't go up to strangers. But I don't know what a "stranger" is. I like all people. I really like the little kids who come to visit me; they're fun to play with. But I also like the man who drives a brown truck and delivers packages to our house sometimes. And I like the man who fixed the furnace and the men who brought some furniture to our house--I helped them unload their truck. But I really liked the man who put new carpeting in the spare bedroom. I watched him all morning, and he didn't mind when I took some of the old carpet to play with for awhile.

Okay, Sophie, we all know you are definitely a people-lover and that all you want is a little attention. But could we get back to our walks, please?

Okay, okay. The park is nice, but my favorite place is Homer Lake. The first time we went there the trees had all their leaves, and it was warm.

The next time we went there, most of the leaves were on the ground.

There are lots of neat things to see and smell. Mom says this is a bird station,
but I didn't see any birds in it.

There are trees everywhere. Some of them are kind of strange
and don't have any branches like this one.

And there's lots of water. I bet I could swim in it if Mom would just let me.

But Mom wanted to look at other things. Especially the trees.

Some of them still had leaves and what Mom called "fall color."

There were pretty orange trees on the road into the park.

Mom lets me lead the way most of the time, so I don't mind if she wants to stop and read a sign.

Or stop to take a picture of a flower. She said this was goldenrod and that she was surprised to see it still blooming in early November.

Most of the flowers weren't blooming any more. But I like the white fuzzy things on their heads.

I like to smell wildflowers. But I don't like cock-a-burrs. Sometimes I run into them when I'm chasing rabbits. They stick to my fur, and Mom has to help me get them out.

I'm glad these aren't those sticky things. They're pretty, aren't they?

My favorite place in the whole park, though, are the trails. There's a new smell around every corner. I sure hope Mom takes me back here soon!

As long as the weather permits, I want to make these infrequent excursions with Sophie more often. Besides giving her a chance to survey new surroundings, these walks are great exercise for me. Not only the walking, but being pulled on a leash by a 67-pound dog has to be some kind of weight-bearing exercise, I would think. But most of all, both of us enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of our surroundings; it's a sensory experience we both can enjoy.


  1. Sophie did a good job narrating these pictures showing us that Nature walks are good for everyone, in every season. Thanks, Sophie!

  2. Sohpie, I like to take my family for walks every day. My favorite walk is at the big park here that my family calls Ouabache Trails Park. It has lots of trees and a creek that floods when the river floods. My Mom says you area pretty dog. I am jealous because I thought she thought I was the prettiest dog ever. Hmmmmm. It is hard to figure out what humans think isn't it? I will enjoy reading about more of your adventures.

  3. P.S. I forgot to sign my name. This is one of the reasons why Mom doesn't let me write too many posts. Luna.

  4. Sometimes some things leave it in the spring and beautiful attention to

    I wish you happy days

  5. Rose, looks like you and Sophie enjoy the same kind of nature walks as I do! For me, I especially like them in the winter when so much of the woods are exposed and the weather is better than summer. Was that really a beaver poking its head out of the river? Very cool.

  6. Great job with your debut post Sophie! I can see you're learning a lot with your walks with your mom. You and George have a lot in common - I'm sure you'd get along great! (I hope you don't scare the mailman and the meter readers like George does.)

  7. Hi Sophie, Even though cats and dogs are sworn enemies, I'm going to give you a tip. You've somehow got to get off the leash, or at least get it out of your mom's hands--that way you can see everything you want to see. Purrs, Fiona P.S. I will deny helping you if anyone asks, OK?

  8. Thanks for taking us on your walk Sophie. I'm glad you and mom have such a nice place to explore. Maybe one day when it's warm again she'll let you go swimming.

  9. That was fun! It brings back memories of taking my dogs to Cuba Marsh. It's good for dogs to see new scenery, and it looks like Sophie enjoyed it as much as you did.

  10. Dear Sophie, Excellent post! You were very tolerant of your mom's need to stop to take a photo or admire a flower. I hope she is tolerant when you have to stop to 'visit', too! You know what I mean!
    ps Hi Rose!

  11. She's so cute! Those look like really great parks; it's nice to have good nature walk places so close!

  12. Taking a dog along for a walk adds so much to the experience, the dog enjoys it so much. I always ended up watching my dog's reactions to everything as much as I did the surroundings.

  13. My Aggie is getting so old, long walks are hard on her hips. I hate to lose me walking buddy.

  14. I enjoyed that walk with Sophie and it wasn't even tiring!
    You stopped by some lovely places.
    Pity about the squirrel and the dogs but squirrels can bite really hard and Sophie might have come off the worse for wear!

    Great scenery.

    Nuts in May

  15. Well done Sophie, I like your simplicity, also very impressed that you thought the seedheads were pretty.
    You have a good Mum to take you on such beautiful walks.... the are lucky to have such beautiful areas to walk with Sophie.
    I have been amazed how many plants are still in bloom, it seems to be world wide.....climate change is becoming very apparent......

  16. I so love visiting here, and that walk was just what I needed right now :) The last photo and the first few looked almost familiar and very typical of some of the English countryside.

    Thanks Rose and Sophie

    PS. Would love to see a beaver!

  17. Carol, Sophie thanks you!

    Luna, you are a very lucky dog. Mom has to drive to these parks, so that it is why--she says--we don't go very often. I would love to come and play with you.--Sophie

    Tamer, I find there is beauty in every season.

    Jean, I do prefer cooler weather for walking. I think that was a log poking out of the water; I read that beavers are nocturnal animals so we don't often see them.

    Garden Girl, I would love to play with George! Maybe some people are scared of me, but I wouldn't hurt anyone.--Sophie

    Monica, I like to run without my leash at home, but Mom doesn't trust me in other places for some reason. Cats are my friends. Mom says I am a little too rambuctiouous with the cats, but at least Toby is nice sometimes, and Tarzan will sneak in the house at night and curl up beside me on Mom's bed. --Sophie

    Susi, I hope Mom lets me go swimming sometime. I think she's afraid I will swim away.--Sophie

    MMD, Sophie loves new places, and I think it's good for her.

    Gail, Thank you! Mom lets me stop and sniff, so I guess I can let her stop and look, too. Mom says she hopes you're feeling better and had a big cup of coffee yesterday.--Sophie

    Rose, The forest preserve is really such a beautiful place and so close; I feel guilty not taking Sophie there more often. Or the grandkids, for that matter...

    Sweet Bay, You're exactly right! I find myself noticing more and slowing down to observe with Sophie along.

    Marnie, That is so sad. I remember when our late Roco got so arthritic--he wanted to chase rabbits in the worst way, but just couldn't.

    Maggie May, glad you could join us! I would put my money on Sophie in a fight with the squirrel--she's pretty fast.

    Cheryl, Actually, other than the goldenrod, the photos with something still blooming, including the last photo, were taken mid-October. We had a very hard freeze last night, so I doubt that anything is still blooming now. I have found these walks are exhilirating in so many ways.

    Suburbia, Glad our walk brightened your day! I'd like to see a beaver, too, but I think they come out only at night.

  18. Oh what a joyful post, Sophie and Rose! I loved seeing those places and what you had to say about them, and the old carpet story as well. The prairie restoration is beautiful, just like the books I have been reading about prairie gardening and planting. All good. The verdant path shot, we call those tree tunnels and the little ones squeal in delight at them. Me too. :-)


  19. How lovely to have such a gorgeous walk nearby. Thanks for taking me along on a freezing rain day. I love the photos.

  20. What a sweet post. She did such a good job... Good dog, Sophie!

  21. Nice posting Rose. I do like the pathway through the woods....lovely color. It has been a funny fall, warm temps and very wet for us.

  22. Oh, you got that one right - weight bearing exercise! How much fun! So much better than actually lifting weights (I try, I really try to lift some 2 lbs. weights once a year or so).

    Sophie did a wonderful job of describing her walks with you! She's learning fast!

    I love your water pics, Rose. I have some tucked away too (I just forgot them, that's all). And the best one was the last - the pic of the trail. Ooohh, it looks like the way into a magical forest. What fun!
    I still can't believe it's December already.

  23. Rose, Sophie is beautiful and so fluent! ;) What a cute post and perspective and I loved seeing the landscape... I see why you enjoy it so much.

  24. Rose - you won Nan Ondra's book, The Perennial Care Manual. Send me your mailing address and I'll send it along with the CowPots. Congratulations! Now I have a Second Giveaway!

  25. Dogs are the best for getting a person to walk. A bad back is a pretty good motivator too! Nothing better to unwind the tension. Does Sophie wait patiently while you take pictures or pull ahead anyway? Both of these nature walks you took look wonderful. Thanks for taking us along!

  26. Hi There Rose!

    Such a charming point of view, coming from Sophie. She's very inquisitive! Homer lake looks like a fun place to roam.
    It is good to "meet" you, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on my blog.

    Rosey AKA Camille

  27. Frances, this area of prairie restoration at the park has become a favorite haunt of mine. If it were only closer to my house, I would go to walk there everyday. You've reminded me I should take the grandkids along on these trails--well, only one at a time or else I would probably lose one of them while hanging on to Sophie:)

    Sarah, Most of this area is flat fields of corn and beans, so to find some woods or open meadow areas to walk in is a real treat. It's cold here, too.

    Balisha, Thank you; I think Sophie is quite an intelligent dog.

    Janet, One of the reasons we didn't go on more of these walks is that it was a wet fall--so many rainy days when the parks would have been pure mud.

    Wendy, I must have those same dumbbells--they're around here somewhere... I have quite a few photos that I intended to write a post about this summer, but time got away from me; they might be good for a snowy winter's day. By the way, I didn't reply to your comment on my last post about the moon in the poem: lol, I should have thought about that one a little more:)

    Di, Can you tell I am a dog-lover?:) The landscape here is much different than the Pacific Northwest; little plots of beauty like these are much appreciated.

    Commonweeder, Wow, this is my lucky day! Thanks so much; I'll be over to give you my address.

    W2W, At my last check-up I was surprised to find I'd lost a few pounds. The doctor asked if I had been exercising, and I said no, only gardening, but I have a dog:) Sophie usually is patient while I take a photo--she doesn't understand "slow", but she does understand "halt."

    Rosey, Thanks for dropping by! I enjoyed visiting your blog, too. Yes, Sophie is very inquisitive, which is not always a good thing:)

  28. Dear Sophie, What lovely walks your Mum has taken you on and you saw so many pretty things! Louis says to tell you he hates those burrs, they are a real nuisance and they just seem to jump out and grab him! He also says he would love to share your walks but he sometimes gets into trouble because he likes people a bit too much and has to stop and talk to everyone he meets :)

  29. Hi Rose,
    It was nice of you to let Sophie tell us about the walk. She did a great job! Thank you both for sharing the beauty of your nearby park.

    I don't take Heidi for walks because I don't like to be pulled on, but I try to take her out in the yard often to run around. I try to encourage Larry to take her more often. He does take her to area lakes a couple times a month, and he lets her swim. Rose, you don't have to tell Sophie that part.

    We got a couple inches of snow yesterday, and are expecting more the next few days. I think it may well be headed your way, too. Does Sophie like the snow? Heidi likes to play in it, but not so much while it's coming down.

  30. For a novice blogger, Sophie, you did an excellent job! I know your mom appreciates the help you give her in the garden and now with blogging, too. Your thoughts about the trees and wildlife on your walks were very interesting and informative. I have a feeling if you coninue to be well behaved your Mom will take you to your favorite places again. Thanks for sharing your experiences in the parks with us. :)

  31. Looks like a lovely walk and that wooded trail is something special. Sophie is a pretty good blogger! :))

  32. Happy birthday to Sophie, and many more years together with you, dear Rose! I am awestruck that you still have trees bearing 'fall colour'...well, some of our marescent trees like beech and oak are still clinging to their leaves, the leaves are bronze and brown rather than red and copper.
    Thank youfor your supportive comments, by the way. They mean a great deal to me!

  33. Dear Rose,
    "Walking with Sophie" is a delight for all of us! I think she would be a wonderful blogger.
    Thanks so much for the smiles this morning.


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