Spring At Last in Two Topeka, Kansas Parks!
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??
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.
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.
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??
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...
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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