Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day at the Ditch -- A Sweet Surprise

It seemed only fitting, since the sun was warm (for January in Michigan), the sky blue and the wind calm, to include a walk to the Ditch as part of my New Year's Day activities. (Along with boatloads of dishes, the New York Times crossword puzzle and checking in on lots of your blogs!) The "Ditch" is a walking path in my neighborhood around a sewer run-off area that has five ponds and an island. In the summer, you'll find Harry the Heron, Ella the Egret, and loads of birds, deer, ducks and wildlife.

And really, it was lovely. I saw loads of people, young and old, with dogs and without, all saying "Happy New Year" and eager for a chat if one was so inclined.

Some rested on a nearby bench. Most of the snow and ice had melted, leaving the path free and clear, perfect for a walk.

Others admired the ducks.

And those ducks looked cold, huddled on the partially frozen ice.

Many, however, were swimming for warmth.

And others, poking in the grass for something edible.


As a photographer, one of the first lessons I learned was "Look up, down, left, right, forward and behind you." In other words, take nothing for granted -- look at everything. How else would you notice the abandoned nest and contemplate whether or not a new tenant might take occupancy in the spring?

And so I did -- and I noticed this. It's obscure at first, a tall, bare tree -- but do you see the bell?

It was the first of many markers on the path. Silver and red bows tied to the trees.

Who did this? And for whom? For the walkers who brave the unshoveled paths with their dogs? For the ducks, deer and muskrats that are about the only inhabitants of this area in the winter?

Did they do it for those who stop to rest on the benches, either to contemplate the nature in the ponds or perhaps for a needed break?

And how? This garland was thrown high onto the tree and may have been done with a good toss.

But some of the bells were hung high and beyond the fence on a sharp incline. How did they get those branches decorated?

As I walked the path again, I saw many things I'd missed the first time around -- like this tree, decorated with bright silver balls.

And this one -- all aglitter in red and silver.

The design wasn't particularly artful.

But it was beautiful. Yes, beautiful, and with each step, I would find myself gasping audibly. It wasn't that it was lush and fabulous as though done by a designer who had great resources and flawless style.

More likely, it was done by Hansel and Gretel to mark the trail.

Or simply by someone who wanted to add some cheer and holiday spirit to our Ditch.

Somebody who decorated with love.

I do wish I knew who did this. I would send them a thank you note.

It was a lovely way to begin a new year.


  1. What a cool thing to do! I bet you're not the only one who enjoyed it.

  2. Kudos to you for walking outside in the cold. It's so refreshing!

    Isn't it neat how you'll see something going one direction and then something completely different when you come back around?

    Happy New Year. ;)

  3. I love your wood duck! Wishing you many more happy walks in the New Year...

    best... mae at

  4. Awww, Jeanie, it was so nice to see The Ditch like this. Truly, it is a place that people LOVE. How else to explain the decorations. People obviously consider it an extension of their homes. I loved the next and the bell.

  5. I do love it so. A whimsical heart for sure. When I took our decorations down this weekend, I didn't resist the urge to leave one shiny golden heart hanging in our plum tree. We need these glimpses of joy.

  6. What a great place to walk. I love the decorations. And NO snow. Lucky you. We have been white for a few weeks and sounds like even though we are warming up a tad bit, it won't be going away soon. Sounds like you had a wonderful new years day! Or my kind of day, minute the crossword puzzle which I am not very good at. :) Hugs-Erika

  7. What a beautiful place to kick off the new year!

  8. Thanks for sharing your beautiful walk. I, too, would send the decorator a note of thanks. Happy New Year, again, to you and Rick.

  9. Jeanie it was a perfect day today for a walk in the winter sunshine! Here in Canada we did the same, took our neighbors dog and enjoyed the bright sun ! Yours was so interesting, who would have placed those bells & balls on random trees??
    Wishing you a Happy New Year! Let's meet up for sure this year! Anna

  10. How fun Jeanie! I would love coming upon decorations along a walking trail. Another blog friend, Linda's Lens shared a similar place in OR on her blog last year. I thought it was delightful! Surely brightens those who choose to stroll the path's day. It makes me wonder if it was one person, or a variety of people leaving little trinkets. :)

  11. What a perfect way to start your new year. Such beauty, even in the woods. I was truly impressed that someone or several ones did this for the joy and enjoyment it brought to both you and others who walked this path around the ditch. It shows such hope, too. Something we desperately need right now.

  12. Happy New Year to you Darling Jeanie, and thanks most sincerely for sharing such a gorgeous post, I'd never seen decorated trees for Christmas in a wood before!
    Hope you've enjoyed all the warmth of your family and your home during these festive days,
    I'm sending many blessings on your days to come

    Xx Dany

  13. Happy New Year, Jeanie! Always such fun when you take us down to the ditch! LOVELY pictures of the ducks...And just love the touches of Christmas glitter and sparkle. Christmas in the woods--love that! Good to catch up with you and have a backward glance through 2016 with you here... And such wonderful news that you're going to be a granny soon!! :))) We're just back from travels too and getting over jet lag and mountains of laundry... Looking forward to sharing 2017 with you. And would you believe, I'm making a gentle foray back into blogging after a break with a new year post?! Yup, here I go again... LOL! ((HUGS))

  14. You see, my off-kilter mind says, "Well of course, it was the crows, the blue jays and the cardinals that hung those markers. It was the muskrats who paved the way in ribbon. But of course, who else?" teeehee....I usually see things that aren't there, or rather, my imagination usually kicks in before the more pragmatic side of me says, "WAKE UP!" Oh how lovely to find this Jeanie, so magical! And yeah, it was "warm" here yesterday to the point that when we were out, I started to over heat in my parka! MUCH LOVE!

  15. How lovely . . .
    Wonderful world indeed . . .
    (I hope you find out "WHO!")

  16. That's very cool, Jeanie. The one tinsel garland - high on the branch - looked as though something was tied to its end. Perhaps it was slingshot over the branch, as I described in my Holiday Musings, how my neighbor decorated his tall pin oak tree. What a fun walk that must've been!

  17. It's like a fun children's story where the animals of the woods are celebrating the holidays too... What a wonderful way to start the year!

  18. That is the kind of walk that becomes MAGICAL...I have heard of a similar story..on one tree in the middle of a path where many walk their when we moved here ..the first two yrs..I decorated a tree on our borrowed landscape..which everyone skis by..and snowshoes by..I have not done it in that tree is now 25 ft:)
    In 15 many trees have quadrupled in size!
    Oh you must have loved it!

  19. This really is wonderful. Personally, I wouldn't want to know who did the decorating. It's enough that it's there, giving pleasure to so many people. And don't you know that whoever did it (one person, or many) had wonderful fun themselves, giggling as they hung the balls and tossed the tinsel, anticipating the surprise that others would feel.

    I've never seen anything quite like this, but when you drive around Texas during the holiday season, you'll often see a lone cedar tree along the road, all decked out in tinsel garlands and other pretties. That little bit of sparkly beauty beats out the decorator-tree-marvels, hands down.

    As for the bell? That made me laugh. When I listed all the kinds of bells people like in my blog, I never thought to include "Christmas decoration in the woods" bell!

  20. I would be in awe of the well place unusual decorations too. How absolutely lovely, one or more left a bright and shining ornament to make you smile, someone who wanted to brighten the path for those coming another day. I love it! A very Happy New Year Jeannie..............

  21. How blessed you are to have this magical place for a walk...I love the decorations...and the ducks

  22. What a beautiful walk you've had, Jeanie. That wood duck is just gorgeous! I would never see these sights so upclose. I can tell your New Year has started off really well. ��

  23. What an unexpected pleasure that must have been. I believe some fairies flew by decorating as they went. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. ;-)I love the bells. How sweet.

  24. All of those decorations, what a mystery. Kind of neat. How nice it is to have such a pretty place to walk. That photo of the duck on water is something.

  25. Jeanie, what a wonderful walk for New Years! The photos of the mallard and wood duck are stunning. I hope you solve the mystery of who decorated the ditch!

  26. In one of your first photos I wondered what the red garland looking thing was!
    How absolutely precious and Yes I too would want to thank whoever took the time and trouble to decorate the forest
    AND to perhaps find out the rest of the story ♥ too.
    Seeing the ducks standing on the ice makes my feet cold and I have on socks and slippers ;-)
    Happy New Year dear Jeanie

  27. What a beautiful place to walk and how special that someone(s) took the time to add the joy of the season.

  28. That is so cool that someone went to the trouble of decorating your beloved walking area! I bet it was extra fun to do that walking knowing that you had to keep your eyes peeled for other decorations. I am impressed that they put the bells up so high - that takes work! What a cool start to the year. I'd like to think that it's a sign that this year will be full of unexpected beauty and good surprises! :)


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