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.
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