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I'm a children's book writer, a campground owner and a special education teacher's assistant. It makes for a very busy year with lots of writing inspiration.
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So I’d finished my very rough draft of a second Cooper book and using a cool tip I’d learned from a fabulous Kate Messner presentation, I began to read it through while charting my characters, their habits, the weather, setting locations, clues and much more
in order to make sure I used all these elements consistently throughout the manuscript.
And there, standing out like a sore thumb was my very clever subplot. I loved it’s subject matter. I gave me one very funny scene for Cooper and a new character for him to hang out with. But it had wicked major flaws when written with the main plot. No matter how I tried to finagle it, it didn’t really fit.
“That’s it. We have to cut it,” said my practical dot-your-i’s-and-cross-your-t’s self.
“But we looooooove it,” said my hate-to-let-any-words-escape self. “And we’ll have to cut our new character too!”
It took some sun in the fun to convince my word-loving self I wasn’t really cutting-cutting, I was cutting-saving for another story. And it could be the “major” plot next time in (dare I say it) Book 3?
So I replotted all the chapters and created another new character, getting more and more excited as the pieces fell into place.
All except one. One teeny tiny worry in the back of my mind.
Wouldn’t Cooper tell his Mom if this *un-named problem* happened?
I thought about it during the school day. It kept me up at night. I doodled it all over my notebook while staring at the words ‘Chapter Six’, on my computer screen.
So I did what any writer would do. I asked my teen.
He said, “Nah.”
“You wouldn’t?” Relief poured through me. My plot was good!
One second later, eyes narrowed, I slowly said, “What do you mean you wouldn’t?”
“Really?? Really?” I said.
Still, I thought he was messing with me. I was the Mom, right? That was his job. So the very next day, while I was in the middle of explaining the importance of hands-on research such as watching loons behavior, throwing cement blocks out of kayaks for cause and effect and watching people interact, I threw my hands in the aira and said, “Hey! You can all help me do some research.”
They enthusiastically agreed. I asked my question; If you had this *un-named problem* happen to you, wouldn’t you tell your Mom or Dad?”
The students looked at each other, then at me with grins. Every single one of them shook their heads giving me clear reasons why not. At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But then, some of their responses reminded me of my own childhood, and of all the things I hadn’t told my mom for one silly reason or another.
And then it hit me. I was thinking like a mom again, darn it.
Now I have a sticky on my writing desk to remind me:
“Find Your Inner Middle-schooler – Then Begin to Write”
Edited to add: Mom, if you’re reading this, I survived, so it’s all good, right??? Love you!
Look who’s been out and about!
This pic was taken with the trail camera on the 13th of this month.
And here, he’s wandered into our backyard for a little shut eye the next morning. I can’t help but wonder if his den is full of cubs and he was looking for a quiet place . . .
He stayed for quite awhile and made me late to work! Hubby took over with the camera after I left.
I can’t wait to see what the trail camera picks up this week!
The trail camera snapped a couple great photos of the fox . . .
I’m going to try to use a higher resolution on it next week to get clearer photos.
This cutie looks very healthy, doesn’t he? With all the spring-time love in the air, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll get lucky and see some cubs. It seems that March is the cubbing season, and the female relies on the male to bring her food. This might be why I’ve only been seeing one fox in each photo.
In April, the cubs venture out for the first time. So I believe I’ll leave the trail camera right where it is for the next few months, just in case. I’ll keep you posted on any new news!
When I went back down to the lake on Saturday, the eagles were back to fluffing their nest. There’s been at least one adult on or in the nest all weekend.
What I love about their new nest location, is how they now have branches to sit on over it, which gives me so many different poses to shoot! In prior years, they’d either hang out on the edge of the nest, which became a bit crowded when the little ones were born, or they flew off to another tree.
Hopping down into the nest
Climbing down into the nest
I’m thinking I’ll be getting some gorgeous family photos this year.
When I left on Sunday, one of the adult eagles had settled into the nest. I’m fairly certain the eggs have been laid or were just about to be.
Wish them luck!
On the way home, I saw an eagle soaring over the treetops. So I took my camera and trudged down to the lake. (on a side note, I’m so ready for spring, I couldn’t bear to put the snowshoes on)
I saw one solitary eagle standing guard.
Finally! I thought to myself as I took shot after shot of him, surveying his kingdom.
The wind was so strong down on the point, I stood behind a tree to keep it from pushing me around.
Suddenly, the second adult showed up . . .
Which I learned later was the male.
He fluffed the nest for awhile as the female looked on. Imagine that! A man who cleans!
He then flew up to the branch on the right. He preened and he preened and he preened.
He called out.
And then he made his move.
(This is where we fade to black to let them have their privacy . . . )
I sure wish it had been a sunnier day. And I’d used a lower ISO. The pictures would have been much clearer for cropping. But still, I’m glad I can pinpoint the day they mated.
Because I now know it will be 5 to 10 days until they lay their eggs.
And 35 days or so later that the eaglets will be born.
Which means we’ll see their little gray heads bobbing up and down in the nest early May!
While I was away in Florida, my eagles were busy!
Here’s a photo of their nest on February 7th.
And here is the nest this week!!What a difference!
So I’m pretty confident that our eagles will be using this nest this spring! And with these 40 degree temps, I bet I’ll be taking pictures of a nesting eagle very shortly.
The big question is, will there be one eaglet . . . two . . . or another rare triplet set?
Time will tell, my friends. Time will tell.
(For those of you who are new to my blog, I have triplet pictures from last year!
Just click here to follow their story
While I was in Florida, I reflected a lot on the plot of my current manuscript. I knew I needed to do some cutting. There were certain elements that didn’t add up.
But I looooooved Cooper’s new friend.
And I loooved the subplot.
Certainly there had to be a way to keep it all?
So walked with my camera and thought.
And I thought.
And I thought.
Somewhere towards the end of my stay, I sat on the deck behind my in-laws house, laptop in my . . . well . . . lap. The afternoon sun was waning. Breeze blew through the palm trees. Birds I didn’t recognize flitted and chirped. The anoles skittered. One even crawled up on my chair to sit next to me on the armrest.
I was still pondering; unsure that what I was doing was for the best of the story. Was I simplifying it too much?
Then an elegant snowy egret landed in the little canal beside me.
He meandered up, across and down the canal. As he moved along, he took his yellow foot and tapped the bottom of the canal, stirring it up. He’d tap here. He’d tap there, looking for something good to eat.
Every few taps, he’d lunge forward to eagerly feast on what he’d stirred up.
It sounds corny, but I realized that’s what I needed to do. I needed to stir things up. Tap a little here. Tap a little there. See what rose to the surface. Then lunge on what was working.
And so far, it’s working well! I like the direction this manuscript is taking!
Wish me luck! I hope to plow through the new first draft by the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted . . .
The picture book writer in me sees so very many storyline possibilities in this photo!
It was taken under the Sanibel Causeway, near sunset, while Dave and Ben were fishing. Dolphins swam just a couple hundred yards away.
This week’s pic is from sunny Florida . ..
This osprey was quite happy with his lunch of fish . . .
Everywhere we go this week, we see osprey nests. Dave and I both agree there’s more than ever before. Several people have stopped to ask me if they’re eagles (I think it’s the camera, that makes them do this) and I have to explain they are not. I may not be well versed in birding, but I do know an eagle when I see one!
The eaglet eyes the oriole . . . .
Have you ever felt like you were in the perfect place, at the perfect time in your life? That’s how I feel about working as an Ed Tech with the Whittier Staff.
When I mentioned I was developing writing presentations now, because I knew I wouldn’t have time over the summer, I was encouraged by Shannon, the teacher I work with, to test it out on our class.
It was a hit. Our students asked some amazing questions and gave me great feedback. So, I went back and tweaked it a bit.
Once I had, another set of co-teachers asked if I’d be willing to present to their English Language class too.
I talk with my hands a lot!
Shannon and I worked it out with my schedule and what a blast I had!
I know almost every seventh and eight grade student at Whittier (thanks to having lunch duty every day!) Presenting my writing though, lets me connect with them on another level. They’re seeing what Mrs. Wight does outside of school . . . and learning what a nature geek I am!
Look how crooked that is!
The presentation shows what my personal writing process looks like and how hard writers work to use exactly the right words, in exactly the right order, to keep a reader turning pages. They’re amazed by the lengths I, and other writers, will go in our research so we can create a scene that lets the reader see, feel, hear, smell and almost touch it.
In both classes, the students gasped when I showed Cooper and Packrat’s cover. How I wish Carl DiRocco could have been there to see that! One young man said the characters looked like they were jumping off the screen. And of course, everyone loved Oscar, the three-legged frog.
Being able to test and tweak the presentation based on the comments of real life audience members has been a blessing. Students and teachers have given some ideas for more specific presentations, as well as wonderful curriculum ideas for the book. The latter have been posted under the For Teachers link above, as Pre-Reading Strategies.
Since then, I’ve been asked to present in a couple more classes at Whittier. I’m very much looking forward to it!
None of this would be possible though, if I hadn’t signed on as an Ed Tech last year at Whittier. Everyone takes an interest in my writing, and in Cooper and Packrat itself. The staff has given me marketing ideas, shouted my successes, and encouraged me to move forward as a writer and a presenter.
Thanks Whittier! What would I ever do without you?
Hey! How you doin’?
Dear Readers, you are not . . .
I repeat, NOT . . .
going to believe the amazing, awesome experience I had wandering the property today. Honestly, I couldn’t have put it all together better myself.
I have to say that this was supposed to be a quick walk to the lake to give Cookie some exercise. Down and back, I’d told myself, as I’d planned to work all afternoon on tweaking my school visit presentation. It needs to be done so I can practice on a 7th grade English class Tuesday.
It didn’t get done. And here’s why . . .
I headed down the usual lakeside path to check on my eagles. When I first trained the camera on the nest, I sighed in disappointment. No eagles.
Then, I saw movement on the ice, and there, halfway across the lake was the eagle feasting on a fish.
I wonder if he stole it, or it was a gift from, one of the ice fisherman on the lake.
He flew off, but I found him perched along the edge of the golf course.
I tried to wait for him to return. But the wind was whipping down the lake across the ice, and the wind chill was ferocious. My fingers were so cold, they hurt inside my mittens. I decided I’d been lucky enough with the camera for one day. I called to Cookie, “Home”!
She started down the second half of the trail, then turned to look at me hopefully.
“No!” I called sternly, nodding up the camp road. “Straight home.”
She took one last look at the trail, sighed, and followed like the good girl she is.
When I reached the house, I let her in, then decided what the heck, I should get the trail camera photo card. “Put the coffee on, please,” I called to hubby. “I’ll be right back.”
I’d set up the trail camera behind the house, which is lower and more wooded than the campground’s marked path. “Warmer too,” I thought, letting my fingers out of the mittens. I took my time, looking around for any signs of the owl or pileated woodpecker. I found the trail camera still trained on the den of what I think might be a fischer, collected the camera card and put a new one in.
Those of you who read my blog, but not my Facebook page, wouldn’t know that late last week I found what I think is an owl perch. The base of the tree is littered with 1 inch long, smooth, oval shaped pellets. I figured, why not swing by it, and take the long way home?
Alas, no owls were roosting there, or anywhere I could see. I remembered the coffee waiting for me, and headed for home.
Just as I stepped out of the woods and into the circle of campsites, I heard crazy chickadee calls. Lots of them. Right off the back of site 126. I tried to see what was going on, having remembered reading that owls and other large birds of prey are often harassed by smaller birds, when he flew! A large, silent, gray swoop between the trees up toward the main road of the campground.
I followed slowly, cringing with every crunch of my boots in the snow. I searched the trees, not daring to hope . . .
And then I saw it . . .
Isn’t he gorgeous!!
I met David at the house door with a huge grin! I couldn’t believe my luck! I must have taken forty pictures!
As we sipped coffee and I told David of my travels, I popped the trail camera card into my laptop. To my surprise, this is what I found . . .
Here’s the den I’ve been watching. I think it’s home to a fisher . . . or that’s what past photos, (not very clear because the camera was further away) have indicated.
Obviously, this fox is interested in the den too! There’s six photos total of him around the hole, but not going in. I think he’s stalking whatever lives there. I’ve left the camera in place, and time will tell.
I feel so fortunate to be able to wander my property and study great animals, such as these. I will never take it for granted . . .
Since Cooper and Packrat as sooooo into nature, I’ve decided to begin posting a Nature Pic every Tuesday. Some will be past favorites . . . some will be new.
This Tuesday’s picture is of our 2012 Eagle Triplets. The oldest is on the verge of flying . . .
A good friend of mine called a couple weeks ago. He hadn’t heard about my book sale, and after I told him, he said, “I really admire you!”
At first I was speechless. Then I babbled and stuttered some kind of thank you and I think there was a “whatever for?” in there too.
“For your determination to sell a second book,” he said. “That you never gave up.”
Today, I went through every Cooper and Packrat file I had, getting ready to talk to my class about the story’s journey from an idea to a published-hold-in-your-hands book.
I knew it’d been years in the making. But I was a little surprised myself, at exactly how many.
The summer of 1999, our loon nest flooded. Both eggs lost. I watched our loons re-nest and go on to raise two beautiful chicks. I became totally and utterly smitten with this amazing creature. They had flown to winter waters when I put fingers to keyboard to write the picture book; Lily Loon. It turned out to be an equal mix of non-fiction and fiction. I subbed it to editors nine times where it received so-so comments, but no takers. One comment suggested they were turning it down because of the mix, they weren’t quite sure where it fit in on the genre list.
That same winter, I wrote another picture book, Victoria’s Loons. This one resembled Cooper and Packrat more. It was mostly fictional, with a little bit of loon facts thrown in. This received very good comments so I continued to alternate subbing and tweaking it right up until 2005 or so, about 20 times total.
One of the comments suggested the story was bigger than a picture book could hold. Simplify it or broaden it, they suggested. I’d been trying my hand at middle grade novels, on the advice of an agent. I’d also recently heard the phrase, ‘to sell a manuscript, write what you know’. A light bulb turned on. “Here is my campground early chapter book!” I thought.
It was now 2006. I wrote it. I loved it. But George Wilder: Game Warden in Training was never sent out. My trusted critiquers thought it should be bigger still. A full middle grade. “That’s your voice,” one said.
So I rewrote from scratch. I changed George to Cooper. I gave him a mystery to solve, a bully to antagonize him, a family to drive him crazy, a campground to play in (as long as his chores were done first) and a best friend to have his back.
And I gave him a loon family to monitor
photo courtesy of Joyce, camper at PSC
My author friends finally gave their approval to submit it to editors in 2009. The first rejections came in; very positive, personal notes, with ideas for improvement I could sink my teeth into. But I won’t kid you, there were times when I wondered if Cooper would find a home. Heck, it’d been many years since The Three Grumpies had been released. What if . . . but I didn’t want to think like that.
I rewrote Cooper two more times until finally, just after the last revision, it found a perfect home with Melissa Kim at the award winning Islandport Press. As it turns out, she’d been looking for a middle grade.
It was Fate.
Yes, the journey was long. Yes, I was determined. And yes, I think my friend is amazingly awesome for noticing. But I’m far from the first author to have had this experience. The road to publication is seldom straight, smooth and perfectly routed on a GPS. It’s curvy and surprises you with forks around most every bend. It’s full of potholes. And detours. And traffic jams. Sometimes it’s a three lane highway, ending jarringly as a cart road leading to the looming mountain in the distance.
But if I hadn’t had this exact journey, route for route . . . would Cooper and Packrat still be Cooper and Packrat?
I don’t think so.
So, am I glad I experienced the journey I did?
I have an imaginative student who is a reluctant writer. It doesn’t matter how sparkly the writing prompt is, the song and dance hype I give it, or the rewards I dangle in front of her nose, we always end up at the same impasse after the assignment is given.
Fifteen minutes into it, student shows me an empty page.
Me trying the teasing tactic: Really? Really? You can’t think of one word to write? I gave you a princess, with a sword, and a handsome prince.
Student: I tried! Nothing comes to me.
Me – (who is honestly sympathizing, thinking of my own work in progress sitting on my desk) “Did you try my writer’s block tips to add to your word count?”
Student – “Maybe.”
Me – “Maybe. Huh. Did you try to describe your setting? Is it a stone castle? Is there a drawbridge? What kind of princess is she? A ninja princess who saves the prince? Or a damsel in distress in sparkly pink clothes.”
Student sighs. “I just don’t know.”
Me – “Okay. Start with senses then. What do you see? What do you hear? The roar of a dragon or the sweet singing of some birds? Do you smell the moat? The prince? His horse?”
Student taps pencil on the table, not even remotely amused.
Me – “Well, you can add anything you like to your story, you know. A giraffe. A lemonade rainstorm. The principal in a clown wig. A zombie.”
Several boys start scribbling madly, but she just sighs again.
So I pitch my lots-of-famous-writers-do-this-warm-up-exercise-on-a-daily-basis speech. I even drop some well known names! It doesn’t help in the least. The class ends and I hope I’ve given her food for thought as her assignment is now homework over the long weekend.
Fast forward to Sunday. I’m sitting down, faced with the next- to-the-last chapter in my own first draft. This chapter isn’t coming easily. It’s the climax, and an exciting, dangerous one it is too! There’s lots of characters, all come together, and the battle against right and wrong has begun.
I’ve written my character so his back is against a wall. Literally. And I’m having a hard time getting him out so he can personally save the day. I sigh. I tap my pencil on my notebook. I watch the San Fran-Atlanta football game. I pour over my plot ideas. I’m thinking, “I’ll work on this tomorrow,” when my in-box dings.
There’s a school Edmodo e-mail from the student. To summarize her paragraph, she was letting Shannon and I know she was still stuck. “It takes me awhile to think of something” She didn’t think she could turn in her writing prompt of 400 words by Tuesday.
I wrote her right back. I re-told her all the tips for adding to your word count. “Plow forward,” I said. Then I paused and remembered that I was just about to give up too. “I’m at home, writing too! Let’s write together!” I suggested.
I didn’t hear back from that student. I wrote though. And I hoped she was, maybe, writing too. Imagining it, kept me writing for awhile.
This morning, I ran into the student. “Hey!” I said, “Did you get my message?”
Student shyly: “Uh, huh”
Me: “Did it help?”
Student beams: “I wrote 600 words! How many did you write?”
Me: “About the same.”
And once again, a student has taught me something. Sometimes, it’s more fun, and more inspiring to know someone is writing right alongside you. And that they find it hard too.
Over the last few weeks, the trail camera captured several 5am fox pictures,
while in two different locations. And I was really pleased by that. (the fox really gets around!) But I was hoping to “catch’ something different now.
So I put on my snowshoes and filled my backpack with a Bio Rock Salt Lick, my little camera, and a bag of vegetable peelings. With my big camera and lens around my neck, Cookie and I set off to move the trail camera to a new location. I had a hunch on where the deer might be crossing. It’s kind of hard to tell though when your faithful pup runs ahead sniffing anything and everything, mucking up any tracks you might have found.
But she’s so darned happy doing it!!
After we’d set everything up just right, we headed down to the point to see if the eagles were out and about.
Looking toward the beaver hut . . .
Looking toward the state park
Lots of ice fisherman . . ..
But sadly, no eagles. I knew it was a long shot. Normally, I start seeing them more frequently in February when their adding to their nest in earnest and getting ready to start a family.
Even though they’ve rebuilt, I admit to being a little nervous as to whether or not they’ll use this location again. Time will tell.
This photo of the nest I took much further up along the trail as you head from the picnic area back uphill toward the 20′s. I’m standing about even with site 24! Not too bad a picture from that distance, huh? (This is cropped of course) You can actually almost see down into the nest.
What great pics I’m going to get this spring! I just LOVE this new lens!
As I write this, Cookie has been lifting her head toward the window and growling low. Whatever it is, it’s not scarey enough for her to get up from her snooze. I’m hoping it means something has discovered my little feeding station. I’ll keep you posted!
I’ve always been a goal setter. I tend to hold the important goals close in case I fail or turn into a scaredy-pants right when I’m about to try it. One such goal I made two years ago but didn’t post on my blog. I did tell it to my husband though. “If I haven’t published another book by the time I turn 50, I’ll walk away from it and try something else.”
“Like what?” he asked.
I had no answer. And thank goodness I didn’t actually have to figure it out, since Cooper and Packrat is being launched by Islandport Press just four months before the big birthday. Whew! That was close! Because honestly, I don’t think there’s anything else I want to do.
2013 promises to be a fabulous year. I’m very anxious to start it!
This year, I decided to post all my goals. And then I’m going to bookmark this page. It doesn’t matter who reads them and who doesn’t, I’ve put them in a public place and I think it will help me if I keep coming back to read the list when I feel off track or lost.
* Exercise six times a week. (I might as well get the most obvious one out of the way first) I’d been doing so well in keeping off the 25 lbs I’d lost . . . until for some reason, with the start of this school year, exercise slid down to the bottom of the must-do-list. Yet, it’s key to keeping my metabolism up and the weight down. I want to look good when I turn 50! And 51. And 52. Time to get back on the
wagon treadmill daily. Veggies and Fruit are my friends!
* Find more quality writing time. Quality is the word to stress here. All too often I squeeze in a little bit of writing time here and there between other things, even though I know I need large chunks of time to make significant progress. That’s my preferred method of writing. So the goals are to finish Cooper and Packrat’s second adventure, begin work on Lillie’s story, send my sci-fi novel out to editors . . . and a couple of my picture books too.
And THIS is going to help me . . .
Hubby gifted me with this fabulous writing-only-no-camp-work-allowed space for a reason . . .I plan to show him just how much I appreciate it by using it. A lot.
* Read an hour a day – My to-be-read piles grew in 2012, but my reading log was waaay short of my goal. Embarrassingly short. Again, I acknowledge there isn’t much time left after two jobs, exercise and writing. But there has to be a way! I’ll find it.
* Marketing myself and Cooper and Packrat – It’s been ten years since The Three Grumpies was released. A lot has changed in the book world and my marketing file is woefully out of date!
Those who know me well, know standing up to speak in front of a group of adults/children/inanimate objects puts me in the scaredy-pants frame of mind I mentioned earlier. So the biggest goal here is to take a deep breath and step out of my comfort zone to do some public speaking and also some speaking up!
Other goals are to create new school and library visits, do more frequent blog posts, finish updating my website, develop teacher curriculum guides and find creative ways to get the word out about Cooper.
I know my editor Melissa, and the whole Islandport Staff will be on hand if I need them. Thank goodness I have them!
* Family Time - More of it needed, doing fun things. I realized during the last few months that we only have three short years left with Ben at home. Gotta make the most of it.
* Hubby Time – David has taken on so many (of what were my) camp and house chores so I can teach and write, such as answering camp phones, meal planning, grocery shopping, Ben’s appointments, and even laundry. I resolve not to take him for granted.
So, I think that’s it. When you put it all together, the overall goal here seems to be for me to manage my time more wisely!
With just a little over two hours to go to 2013, I’m raising my glass to wish all of you a bright, happy and safe New Year! May all your dreams and wishes come true.
The official cover is here! The official cover is here!
(Insert me, doing a goofy happy dance here)
I’m in awe of Carl DiRocco’s art. This cover is absolutely perfect! As one of my facebook friends said . . . it says, ‘pick me up!’
Here’s the blurb Islandport Press chose for the back of the book . . .
LOOK OUT, LOONS!
What kind of person would want
to destroy a loon nest?
Cooper and Packrat are determined to find out.
All they have to do is fend off a bully, clean the
bathrooms, build a raft, find the culprit, get the loons
to come back, save the family campground, and make
sure they still have time for s’mores!
I’m telling you, August can’t come fast enough . . .
For my birthday, I didn’t ask for jewels or a fancy dinner out. I asked for a trail camera. I just had to see what the Poland Spring Campground wildlife was doing when they thought I wasn’t stalking them with my camera.
Dave and I found the perfect spot to set it up this past Sunday. The weather was so gorgeous, we decided to continue down to the point, hoping to see our eagles. Cookie bounded ahead of us, never quite out of sight. At one point she startled a flock of (what I believe were) mallards.
I think they startled her too, because she ran right back to me.
Once on the point, we could see the eagle nest stood empty, but I think a few more sticks have been added. I’m very much looking forward to getting more pictures this coming spring with my new, super-duper lens.
Ben gave me a stabilizing pole for my birthday. It attaches to the bottom of my camera in much the same way a tripod does, but it’s quicker and easier to use. When I have the big lens attached, it’s heavy to hold and my hand tends to shake after a bit. Sometimes, when I’m out for a couple hours, my arm aches the next day. I’m not complaining, mind you!
I noticed my long distance pictures were a little clearer.
Geese hanging out by the State Park end of the lake
Flock of ducks just off the golf course
These Hooded Mergansers had been quite elusive these last few months, but I was about to get my chance. Four pair were feeding half way across the lake . . .
This time it wasn’t Cookie, but two pair of hikers at the State Park who sent these beautiful birds soaring . . .
I’ll check the trail camera Wednesday or Thursday. Through the winter and early spring, I hope to capture pics of the deer, turkey and beaver who move into the campground after the campers move out.
Has anyone out there had any unusual bird sightings this fall or winter? You might just find me on your doorstep!
Just because everything’s turned gray, and the temps have dropped into the *shiver* 30′s, doesn’t mean I put my new lens high on a shelf until spring. Even if I was so inclined, my faithful pup Cookie would never let me hole up for the winter.
Cookie- waiting patiently for me to snap some pics
Taking wildlife pics with my new lens is still one of my favorite ways to de-stress. There’s no such thing as a “quick walk”. Sometimes I just like to stand still under the trees, listening, waiting for the wildlife to come to me.
I always end up down at the point to check for my eagles. I’m so relieved their fallen nest didn’t cause them to move from the island. Each time I see their new one, I take a bunch of pictures just because I can! I don’t see the eagles themselves quite as much this time of year, as they’re eaglets are off on their own, but I do catch site of the adults about once a week. Most days, they’re in the distance . . .
One of our adult eagles
When the wildlife is elusive, I set my sites on some pretty scenery.
Full November Moon over the new Eagle Nest
Did I mention that we had a pair of mallards still hanging out as late as last week? I hope they moved on, as the ice has begun to form.
These two were fun to watch. He stood guard as she fed with her butt in the air and her head in the water.
A Pair of Mallards
And then there were the geese. This year they hung out down by the State Park more than they did in our cove. I missed their chatter.
Lately I’ve been going through my loon and eagle photos (click the tags to the right) as I think about ordering souvenirs for the camp store. The photos I’ve taken this summer will also come in handy when I plan school visit presentations for next fall after Cooper and Packrat is released. I hope to take tons of photos of the loons next spring with this new lens!
Next on my wish list of photo ops, is owls. Anyone out there ever manage to take a good owl photo? If so, how’d you manage it?
No sooner had I gotten home from Whittier Middle School’s 5K race today, I found hubby and Cookie heading out for a walk to the lake. I quickly switched camera lenses and joined them. When we got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes . . . .
but let me back track a bit.
Remember how the eagle nest fell at the end of August?
This is what it looked like when I kayaked in September . . .
And what it looked like 3 weeks ago . . .
I was sooooo worried the eagles wouldn’t stay, even though I’d read they might rebuild if they’d had successful nests in the past. And we all know these two certainly were! Most years they had two babies and then Triplets in 2012!
Still, I had faith . . . and look what I witnessed today!
Not only was this adult on the new nest, but two trees over was the second adult!
I am sooooo relieved to know I’ll have some more time to study these marvelous creatures.
One of the triplet eaglets is still hanging around . . .
In between teaching, some miscellaneous camp work and quick walks to the lake, I finished the copy edits on Cooper and Packrat’s adventure. As I hit send on this final draft, I felt a mix of overwhelming pride and a little bit of pure terror. This is really happening! By next summer, I will be holding Cooper and Packrat; Mystery on Pine Lake in my hands. I’ll be sharing it with family, friends and campers!
*falls to the floor in a faint*
I know from having talked to my writing friends that these feelings are somewhat normal and the only cure is to dig into a new story. Soooo I’ve re-opened a Cooper and Packrat adventure I’d plotted last winter and I’m moving forward with it. I’d forgotten how much I like this storyline, too. It feels good to be first-drafting again!
Okay, maybe when that white fluffy stuff starts to fall . . . then I’ll put it away.
But for now, I’m still finding warm, sunny days to paddle around to my heart’s content.
There’s something soothing about being on the lake all alone.
The wind rustling the leaves . . .
the water lapping at the shoreline.
There’s still spots of color here and there, too. When the sunlight hits them just right, it explodes and catches your eye from across the lake.
I only had my big lens with me this time, hoping to catch some signs of wildlife.
I scored . . .
The heron was across the lake from me. He was kind of skittish though – I’d only paddled a quarter of the way across to get a liiiii-ttle bit closer, when he took flight.
When I continued on my way, I came across one of the adult eagles.
He too, took off when he saw me coming.
I admit it. I didn’t take a shower before heading out that morning, but really!
This little guy let me take a couple photos though. It was the ONLY turtle I saw sunning himself, which surprised me a little.
I’ve been eagerly watching the weather and it looks like I’ll get another chance to go out Thursday or Friday. And I have it on good authority the geese have been stopping by on their way south. *rubs hands together gleefully*
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Some of you may remember how goofy I’d gotten over the bullfrog who moved into my garden this summer.
I took tons of pictures as he posed on the rocks. I looked for him everyday while watering the plants. I even found myself talking to him. Some of the young campers started coming into the office either in a panic because they didn’t see him on his perch . . . or they came in to report seeing him swimming-sunbathing-hopping-hiding.
Well, this is why I was so in love with that frog; Cooper has a frog. A three legged frog to be exact!
- illustrated by Carl DiRocco
Talk about fate! When I wrote Cooper and Packrat, I’d never had a frog in my garden. Oh, we’d rescued a few from the pool and seen them at the lake, of course. I’d had tons of spring peepers climb the house to eat bugs under my porch light, too. But a garden frog? No.
I lost track of my frog somewhere around the end of August when I started school. I wonder if he sensed summer was at an end and he needed a better place to winter? I’d like to think so.
So tell me, do you have a favorite animal character from the pages of a book? An animal sidekick? A main character? What made them special to you?