Spring At Last in Two Topeka, Kansas Parks!

My favorite pond in the park through the whimsical railing on a footbridge at one end.
My favorite pond in the park through the whimsical railing on a footbridge at one end.

Spring doesn't so much "arrive" in Flyover Country as eventually it gets here after several false starts. One day is bright and sunny, warm enough to don shorts, but the next is overcast and brrrr cold. One morning the ground might be covered with snow, gone by noon, and by 3 o'clock we've shucked our winter coats for shorts. But like a herd of turtles in a sea of peanut butter, each day is a tiny bit of progess toward putting winter behind us for another year.

Mother Nature and the calendar are rarely in synch here. Over in Gage Park, flower beds are already sporting green shoots from bulbs tricked by those warm, sunny days. Don't they know we haven't had that last hard freeze yet?

Apparently the trees know. No buds have appeared on the trees outside the living room window, or anywhere else in the neighborhood. If memory serves, by this time last year they already had buds when a freezing rain encased them in ice for a night and the next day.

What shall we do next, Ollie??

One of the above gulls sailing over a Chinese Brown goose and two Canadians.
One of the above gulls sailing over a Chinese Brown goose and two Canadians.

Oh, but on the days it's warm and sunny, life is glorious!

Those are the days I like to visit the neighborhood's other park, actually a cemetery at 6th & Gage laid out like a park. It's home to a hundred or more Canadian geese, several dozen Mallards and other assorted ducks, and a dozen or so sea gulls. We're a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, but we have sea gulls. Go figure.

Never could get close to any of the sea gulls while they were onshore, so the top one is from a larger photo from farther away, then cropped and enlarged. Apologies for the quality. For the next, I purposely walked toward "Ollie" and his friend, knowing they'd take to the air almost immediately, with the camera already pointed toward the expected flight path.

Another shot of the Chinese Brown and three Canadians.
Another shot of the Chinese Brown and three Canadians.

There's also one odd goose which I now know to be a Chinese Brown (aka Chinese Swan). The only up close pic is of its backside, but you can see it from a distance in the sea gull photo above. It was in many of the photos I snapped that day, distinctive by its longer white neck and high rump. How it came to be in the park at all is a mystery.

Splash down!

Adult Canadian geese weigh around 40-50 lbs and make quite a splash when hitting the water. They actually land feet first, butt down, very similar to computer renderings of Flight 1549 setting down on the Hudson.

Alas, I couldn't catch that part of a goose landing, so I offer the next best thing.

With a hundred geese and ducks on the water at any given time, all going in different directions, there are usually a few great shots I didn't have to plan ahead for.

About fifteen birds were in the original of this photo, but only one was looking my way, so I cropped out all but the five grouped here. Doesn't he (she?) act like they know they're on camera??

This may look like a B&W photo, but it isn't.
This may look like a B&W photo, but it isn't.
Four friends just hangin' out on a sunny day.
Four friends just hangin' out on a sunny day.

A young mom who brought her kids to the park to feed the ducks was the first to notice the light gray gosling (center) and the darker gray duckling with a tufted head to its left.

Because they were in the shadow of the wall when I snapped this, I didn't think I'd ever get them out of the shadows. Re-takes weren't an option.  By the next day, the light gray had turned white and the tufted one brown like other ducks. That second day, these four were always together.

What a life...

Floating along in the breeze with the sun on your back, not a care in the world...
Floating along in the breeze with the sun on your back, not a care in the world...

So there you have it, a few moments from two Spring-like days in my neighborhood.

Oh, one last thing... There was a dusting of snow on my car this morning.

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Comments 33 comments

Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

I struggle with the false starts of spring. Don't like them at all!

We lived in an apartment complex called "The Lakes" (aptly named) while our house here was being built. The ducks would come to our sliding glass door to eat the bread crumbs our toddler would throw out to them. Then one morning, she snuck out and tried to feed them her scrambled eggs. They didn't come back.

Quite a park you're living near, Jama! Beautiful pictures!!!! Thanks for sharing your days!


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I really like that expression a herd of turtles in a sea of peanut butter. Not much of a change in weather here, but the cloudy skies are clearing up.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

It's not spring, JamaGenee, until the weather's good enough to play golf. Those Canada geese look nice, but I'd rather see them in the park than on the golf course. Good pictures. Let's hope the last frost is behind us. Unfortunately, I'm heading north to Maine Tuesday so spring will come a little late for me this year.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Wait till she tells you about storing plutonium in tupperware, GT!


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

So spring hasn't totally sprung? Oh well at least you have something to look forward to still. Nice hub. Thanks for sharing :D

Btw, the anecdotes about the geese reminded me of Fly Away Home.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

hahahaha PM...plutonium in Tupware is *your* story to tell.  ;) That said, yes it is a great park, the smallest of two in my neighborhood. 

Oh, Bill, a man after my heart!  I don't play golf - rotten hand-eye coorination - but on Sunday afternoons, I love to watch whatever tournament is being broadcast.  So much more civil than football or NASCAR.  btw, an uncle never let the seasons stop him from playing golf - found red balls somewhere that'd show up in the snow.

Toad, the full expression is "OFF like a herd of turtles in a sea of peanut butter".  I'd say it at the start of every road trip with my kids, because after loading the car and herding the kids in, it *seemed* like we weren't getting anywhere when we finally left the driveway!

Nah, Cris, it isn't officially Spring for another week. I'm not familiar with Fly Away Home - guess I'll have to look it up. Thanks!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

I like the expression too, JamaGenee! It makes a great hub title too! Thanks for sharing the geese pics! Spring has definitely sprung here with the Texas bluebonnets out. But we had snow in April two years ago, so who knows?!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Yeah, but you would tell it so much better, Jama.

The Texas bluebonnets, KCC! Post a picture--I really miss seeing them!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Intriguing title - great pics - thanks Jama!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

PM, I have a pic of one in my latest hub "Burn Ban".


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Thanks, KCC!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Shalini, you're welcome!  It was hard choosing the few of many to put here!

KCC, ya had to mention bluebonnets!  I'm 9 hours from San Antonio, or maybe  Austin.  Anyway, it makes me want to take a road trip to see 'em!

PM, I can barely spell the p-word, let alone tell *that story* again. 


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

C'mon JamaGenee! They're sprouting up everywhere! What's 9 hours?! Phffffp!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Pick me up, Jama! I'm on the way!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Exactly, KCC!  9 hours is nothing!  My friend with MS keeps talking about visiting a friend in San Antonio.  I tell her if we leave at the crack of dawn, we can be there for dinner, but she doesn't believe me. Shoot, I'd be happy if we just made to the other side of the Red River!

You're on, PM! 


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

We must live in about the same place. Where you live, do they say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute"? This was a great piece. I love the geese but so many people hate their poopy guts. They DO poop like it's going out of style. This was a breezy, comfortable read, and I could have spent more than a few minutes here, just daydreamin and watching the birds, feeling the cool breeze coming in. Thank you.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're most welcome, Christoph, and thank YOU!  Glad I could provide you a bit of daydreaming.  I often go to that park sans camera just to watch the birds.  The geese DO poop... A LOT.  The reason these pics were taken from standing height! 

There's another park, where the pond in the top pic is located, that a few of the ducks here sneak off to.  That one has my favorite bench where I'll sit watching them while eating a sandwich or just de-stressing. 

Yes, I live in one of those places where "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute".  (We give it 10 minutes, actually.)


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

The seagulls amaze me, JamaGenee. When I skimmed your Hub at first and noticed the gulls, I wondered if maybe I'd gone to a different author's Hub. I had no idea that seagulls would hang out so far inland. I live about 50 miles from the ocean, and the only time I see gulls here is when there's a storm brewing out at sea.

Thanks so much for the pleasant ramble...I, too, drifted off into a bit of a daydream.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

ST, each time I visit that park, at least one person will walk up and ask 'Are those sea gulls?'. They're as amazed as you were. I'm no orthinologist, but I'd guess they hopscotched inland from the Gulf coast, one lake or pond at a time. As for the daydream, you're most welcome!


Cindy L. 7 years ago

There is nothing like all the new life that arrives with spring. Here in the midwest we have been having warm 80 degree days and then the next day only high in the 40's. Our trees are budding all ready, and the birds are singing louder. Love the pics of the geese and ducks. Love them all.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Cindy, these were taken on one of those 80 degree days. To look at on days when the temp drops into the 40s! The birds are just starting to sing here too, a good sign. Thanks for dropping in.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Hey Jama! I finally got around to reading this hub 'o yours! Those spring false starts can really be annoying, eh? And a bit disappointing, too, at least for me! The good thing, though, I think, when spring is in the air it doesn't care that humans bear it with a total lack of style, it still brings the flowers and the ducks and what not :-) Nice park and geese you've got there, and pretty shots of it all!

PS: I feel totally silly that I've never heard "that expression" before.


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Jama, I really liked the pictures! That one goose does look like he sees you taking his picture. :) I think I'll take my kids out to the lake to see if we have any ducks to feed this weekend. Thanks for the good idea!!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

k@ri, glad you liked the pictures!  Yes, do take your kids to the lake to feed the ducks (if there are any)!  I get tickled watching the kids here.  One little guy decided to heck with tearing off chunks of bread, and tossed a whole slice instead!  The birds weren't sure what to do with it, I guess, because it floated for quite a while before dissloving into the smaller pieces they were used to!

Elena, never occurred that we humans *must* look quite silly doing our "spring thing"! lol! But I don't know where that expression originated, the kids and I just always used it.  Guess I should look that up, huh?


britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 7 years ago from united kingdom

great hub...the title and images are very nice..thanx for sharing it...


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Beautiful hub with geat picture JG. You're a good photographer if you can catch a bird like you have here. I believe the one may be a Merganser, but it's hard to see it properly and the gulls are not really 'sea' gulls. that's a misnomer. We have plenty of them here and I'm like 90 minutes from Lake Erie south. True Sea gulls are palagic in nature and rarely come close to shore except in storms, to rest soem times and for neating. good hub.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, C.C. The trick to the bird-in-flight shots is 1) study them on the ground and start shooting where they're going before they take off, and 2) keep clicking because one or two are bound to be great! Thanks for the tip on the Merganser; I'll look 'em up and see if that's what our "sea" gulls really are.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Your park looks like a great place to relax and enjoy the bird sightings. It is always fun watching people feed ducks. It only takes one to notice and the alarm is sent out to all of his buddies to join in the feast.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, you're certainly right about an alarm going out! Little kids throwing the bread are interesting to watch too. Some will toss it close to shore so the birds have to come close, and others will throw it as far as they can to send the birds away from them!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

when i was a kid, i loved the Canada geese, but then they took over the local park and now you can't picnic because they poop everywhere


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Dolores, the park the Canadas and ducks inhabit here is a cemetery and not a picnic spot *because of* the bird poop!  Most of which gets washed away when it rains (like it did last night).  The park in the top photo (the butterflies) is a "regular" park and has no geese, so it's the one people use for picnics, family reunions and weddings. 


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Your title would also aptly fit waiting for Fall to arrive. We had a few cooler days and today it is once again going to be hot and humid. "Off like a herd of turtles in a sea of peanut butter"...wish they would pick up the pace or perhaps thin that peanut butter down with a dose of jelly to make the progress a bit easier and faster. :))


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, thanks for pointing out the title can also apply to Fall! After moving 300 miles south of where the parks in the pix are located, I haven't yet developed a feel for what's normal for this time of year here and what isn't. We, too, have had several downright cold nights and warm days, but nothing an extra blanket and putting on socks couldn't overcome. But does Houston ever have "real" Fall? It's my understanding it's quite warm there even in the "dead of winter". ;D

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