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Spring Training
March 07, 2011

Migration continues, even if it still feels like winter.

Keep your eyes peeled, or you may miss some visitors as they fly though.

Red-winged blackbirds continue to arrive in growing numbers.

American robins are more common as well.

This past week a handful of Brown-headed cowbirds stopped by too.

Saturday afternoon I spotted seven Sandhill cranes flying low and in stealth mode, which is rare indeed for these birds to be quite..

Keep your eyes open for birds that are simply passing through.

The Count Down Continues..............................

Two Short Weeks.

Now this may seem like an eternity, but after all this time, you can surely count down 14 days, Two short weeks.

Can't you?

For me, time continues to fly by.

Often, too fast.

Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to spring as much as the next person, but there is still so much to do around here.

Where does the time go?

There is always some task at hand, or so it seems.

Even so, Karen and I are learning to make time for some of life's simple pleasures.

Quality time for us..........................

Something we enjoy to do, and can recharge our batteries.

Sometimes, we need to take some time for us and this week it was a late winter trip to one of my favorite spots.

Yes, a trip to the beach where this snowman greeted us on some lake ice.

Lake Michigan in the winter can look like a baron frozen waste land or a winter wonderland landscape.

Always something different.

Depending on the winter or the month, she can also roar in ferocity as she did when we were there last week.

Chunks of ice the size of small cars were tossed around like a rag doll as white capped water roared into the frozen shelves
that were 15 to 20 feet high in places.

Seagulls ride the waves and negotiate the stiff winds.

My spirit is recharged, simply by the sight of the big lake and the green/blue colored, open waters.

Today I share some pictures from the Big Lake.

A Side Bar:

Some of you may have been sent an article that shows some spectacular ice formations and talks about flash freezing on Lake Michigan.

I've lived here all of my life and nothing remotely close to these giant ice structures are found on any of the Great Lakes.

And it never gets cold enough to flash freeze.

In fact, the Big Lakes keep Michigan a bit warmer, as they rarely freeze over completely.

Not one single mention in the media, no ice burg tourist trade, Nada, Zip, Zilch.

While the images are indeed spectacular, there is no way it is from Lake Michigan.

(As you can see, most Lake Ice is full of sand.)

As you can see, I did take a few pictures, but the best was saved for last.

Visits from a couple of Bald eagles.

I'm not quick enough or my
camera isn't to capture the majestic birds in flight.

Even so, this beautiful bird stopped and posed for me.

As you can tell by the back of its head, the wind was blowing pretty good that day.

(notice the wave running through the ice chunks.)

I did see a couple more eagles, but to distant to get a good picture of.

One was an immature bird that was eating a fish on the ice of an inland lake.

While still a rare sight around here (for me), it is rewarding to see Bald eagles a bit more often.

Say, if you have a question, be sure to send this back to me with your question along with:

You First name (last is optional)

City or region you live in or near.

And your state or Province.

You may have heard this on the news.

This past Thursday here in Michigan, there was a tragic accident to a 16 year old, High School Basketball player, not all that far from here.

A well conditioned, high performance athlete (team star in football and basketball).

Seconds after the game that resulted in his team's perfect
20 - 0 record for the regular season, the young man collapsed and died.

Autopsy showed an enlarged heart.

I have no clue if this could've been avoided.

God Bless and prayers be with his family, friends and classmates.

I mention this to you, because gardening and extra activities are just around the corner.

For you and me..................

The part time gardener, the weekend warrior.

Out of shape, and ready to give it our all.

Slow down.....................

Maybe have your heart checked out.

I'm not kidding..........

It is time for........

"Your Spring Training".


Winter is still with us for a couple more weeks, yet baseball teams and players have reported to camps throughout Florida and Arizona.

'Spring Training'.

There are several reasons for spring training.

Teammates get reacquainted or introduced.

Coaches and players get in touch and discuss team goals, etc.

It is time to dust off the cob webs and hone their skills.

Spring training also is a time to get into 'Game Shape'.

Preparing for the long haul.

This is what I'm referring to when it comes for you and me.

Spring Training.......................

We hear those words and we know that spring and baseball season can't be far off.

For almost three weeks now, the boys of summer have been working themselves into playing shape.


Spring training isn't just for spring and summer sports.

It also means that we must get our minds and bodies set for our yards and gardens.

An athlete may be in good shape, but there is conditioning to consider as well.

You may understand what I am talking about, or you may not.

Your in good shape, you jog, maybe walk 5 miles a day or you just may be a gym rat.

Yes, you are ripped.

Yet, are you really in shape for
spring activities like gardening?

I played baseball in my youth and years of slow pitch softball I am aware of the training and practice involved.

I considered myself in pretty good shape back then.

That is until the day (morning) after a first practice.

Running sprints, 50 push-ups, 100 sit-ups were no problem for this young buck.

10 minutes of batting practice and throwing a ball, had muscles screaming that I didn't even know existed.

Striding toward a ball, twisting and swinging a bat in one smooth, yet violent motion.

One swing may have not been an issue, but do this (now a fluid motion) repeatedly and the next day............

If you played sports at all, you know where I'm coming from.

If you are a gardener, you understand too.

The first week of good weather and you may be outside raking, digging, and moving stuff.

You are bending, twisting and turning in ways and in repetitions you aren't used to doing.

One bend or twist is one thing, but bending or twisting throughout the course of a day, and you know it later on.

Don't you?

One wrong twist or bend (especially if you aren't conditioned).............

I digress.

Spring training isn't simply for the athlete,

No, no, no........................

You and I need some spring training as well.

You can start out by doing a few twists and turns.

You should do some squats or deep knee bends.

Start by doing a few at a time and work your way up into playing or gardening shape.

The more mature I become, the longer spring training is for me.

Possibly a visit to your doctor is in order as well.

Still, for me 'Gardening For Wildlife' is much like the recreation league, slow pitch softball.

Sure you must practice and train, and I surely wanted to win, but it is more laid back than playing organized baseball.

There are fewer things to remember and in most cases you aren't out there everyday.

And the last thing I want to worry about is missing the bunt sign or the hit and run.

I played to compete, but more importantly, to have fun.

Formal Gardening in my opinion is more like baseball.

A lot of hard work goes into getting and staying in shape (those wind sprints were killers).

For the garden, you are out there everyday pruning, weeding, edging and what have you.

Having to learn all these fancy names and signals can take a lot of fun out of sport and gardening (unless you are really competitive and I used to be).

The games within the game (baseball is loaded with).

I've played softball and baseball, I've also done both kinds of gardening and I like 'Gardening For Wildlife' much better.

If you are wise, you did some winter exercise and you made plans for your gardens.

Deep knee bends and other movements while doing your everyday work.

Maybe a few toe touches while watching the evening News.

Spring Training is also planning.

You planned on what to plant
and where to plant it.

Sometimes however, our plans aren't very smart.

We want certain plants but did we plan on the right location?

Location. Location. Location.

It's true for real estate and for gardening too.

Soon we will swarm to every garden center in sight looking for the perfect plants to enhance our landscapes.

How many times do you see that gotta have plant?

Me too.......................

Every spring when I go plant shopping, I have to remind myself about something I preach ....

Right plant in the Right place.

It's one of the best habits a gardener can practice.

When you locate a plant correctly, you provide the plant with the environment it needs to thrive and stay healthy.

In return, you get a robust plant that has beautiful foliage, large flowers and the best bonus of all is that the plant will require less maintenance to keep it looking great.

Planning ahead.

Are you planting a sun lover in the sun?

Keep shade lovers together.

Drought tolerant plants should be planted in the same location and the same goes for your plants that require more water.

Consider planting water loving plants closer to your house where it is easier to water.

Don't rely on lawn irrigation systems to water your plants.

Lawn systems are set to water lawns and grass has a shallow root system (about 4"). You want water to do deep for your gardens.

Try to plant natives that are more tolerant to your growing conditions.

Besides, wildlife prefers and often depends on certain native plants.

Properly located and managed, trees can reduce the demand for fossil energy through effects such as shading

buildings to reduce air conditioning demand.

Breaking winter winds to lower space heating needs. We can manipulating snow drifts with proper planting locations.

Proper planting helps in preventing soil erosion, the waste of precious water and using fertilizers.

Look at all of this practice and teamwork even in our gardens and in Nature.

As with sports, practice and training allows for fewer mistakes and greater success.

Even if you are a team of one.

I'm sure you don't want to go on the disabled list (DL) before the growing season ever gets started.

Besides the bodily injuries and pain you now have, think of this..........

Your garden tasks are now falling behind and you may never, fully get on top of the now growing list.

Take it from me, a pulled hamstring or wrenched back doesn't heal quite as fast as it did when I was a pup.

Know your limitations, you have too many people that love you, depend on you and want to keep you around as long as possible.

Don't let your gardens get the best of you.

I was a bit long winded today, but I too want to keep you around.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Until next time,

God Bless.

"Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods".

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nice, but there is but the One God and here is what he has to say.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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