Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sisters, a quarry, and pileated pursuit

Sisters time away – what a great couple of days I had! For the past several years I have been hoping to get together with my sister and mother for some special time away. Why is life always so crazy? But finally, we did it! Dianne had a realtor’s conference to attend in Door County, Wisconsin and asked if we wanted to go along. Early November is good timing for me. The family birthday parties are over and I have not yet begun the flurry of making Christmas gifts (although if I had perhaps it would not be an annually flurry, right?)

We planned our Sister’s Time Away months ago. Not long before the date, Diane’s friend Hilde, another realtor with First Weber, wanted to attend as well, and has friends who are building a unique vacation home in Fish Creek, Door County called Quarry House.
The place is just incredible – Mitch and Mary had a vision for an empty rock quarry, embraced the land and worked WITH it, making it a part of their dream retirement home, rather in the fashion of Frank Lloyd Wright. One portion of the home is a guest house, a rental for vacationers to Door County. The accommodations are top of the line, and a great place for romancing couples, couples who enjoy vacationing together, or for families. Quarry House is not yet complete, but the guest house was very much ready for us, and Mitch proved to be a most gracious host, periodically checking to be sure we had everything we needed. I look forward to returning to Quarry House with Jesse, hopefully for our anniversary next October when Door County colors are peak.

When Mitch told me that pileated woodpeckers have a flight path across the front of the quarry to the woods behind the home I about fell over. Why? Well, for those who know me well Jesse and I are bird watchers. Jesse introduced me to this when we began dating and we love it, and our children enjoy it as well. Birders often have “life lists” and keep track of all the species of birds they have seen in their lifetime. I also happen to have a wish list – and the pileated woodpecker is at the top of my pecking order.
I loved Woody the Woodpecker as a kid, and this cartoon was fashioned after Woody. I have been in pursuit of the pileated for years. I have heard it call in the woods up on the hill, many years ago before the land was developed. When Jesse and I honeymooned for our 5th anniversary in the U.P. of Michigan we spotted a silhouette one early morning in Seney Wildlife Refuge as it flew across a field. Well, Jesse actually saw it, not me (he can recognize the bird by the flight movements). Saturday morning I headed out to the woods early. Mitch had shown me a tree the day before pot-holed by the pileateds, which is very distinct from holes made by other woodpeckers. I heard pecking sounds in the distance, but nothing that drummed like a pileated would. Figuring I would not likely get to see this bird I took a self portrait of myself next to a tree where it had obviously been. (LOL)

Later on both Teresa and Diane joined me and we headed down the trail Mitch had shown me, which brought us out onto Spring Road to head back to the Quarry. I can’t recall if I was still climbing down the bank onto the road, or what I was looking at, but Diane yells “did you see that huge bird?!”. Well, no, I had not. She described it, and it was undoubtedly a pileated. Wouldn’t you know – I have spent the past 18 years hoping to see this bird, and my sisters who had only heard of it 36 hours before, both got to see one. Mitch came out of the house and we pursued the bird into the woods across the road. (Apparently you can just climb down any bank up there and go onto people’s land to chase a bird – totally different way of life in the peninsula!) As you may guess we never did see the pileated.

Lighthouses were hot on our list of sites to see. Because the weather was not exactly warming, we made a point to find Cana Island Lighthouse Thursday afternoon, which turned out to be the most picturesque.

While searching for the lighthouse we came upon the back side of Ridges Sanctuary and headed down the boardwalk. Of course I was watching the woods on either side for wildlife, and found a tree riddled with pileated holes, and made a mental note that Jesse and I would return with a blind and binoculars when we came up to go birding.

More on our Sister’s Time Away another day. I will say that although Hilde was not a “sister”, she was a welcomed new friend. I really enjoyed talking to her and learning just how small the world is when I mentioned Jesse’s interest in finding a used hammer dulcimer, and Kyle wanting to learn to play bagpipes. Speaking of Kyle, he accidentally got into the school spelling bee on Friday. He just happened to finish in the top 4 of his 4th grade class even though he had not opted to take home word sheets to study. Since he does not like to get up in front of crowds, he was pretty upset about it but I think Jesse helped him to relax and feel better. One of those moments I missed while I was gone. I enjoyed time with my sisters, but sure am happy to be home with family. They are my blessing in this journey.

1 comment:

Lizscraps said...

Rita.. I visit often as have you linked up on mine and love your posts
as was tagged am passing on the favor, no need to do it if you don't want to :)

have a great day!