Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years

I like transitions. For some reason new years and birthdays fill me with the same type of hope and wonder. I believe that all things are remade. For a couple days I believe in omens. Two years ago I posted about how the moon would be strange that new year. I joked about omens. Now I'm more of a believer. Two days later I broke my ankle, an injury that will continue to impact me for the rest of my life. Tomorrow I'll look for omens that will signal how the new year will go. Today was a beautiful way to end a year.

I had amazing day with the love of my life. Jeff and I relived the old days by waking up and suddenly deciding to go out of town. We used to take spur of the moment trips all the time. The plan was that we would hit the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge to do some birding and hiking (for me). Then take the back roads to Tanger Outlet Mall and to Iowa City for dinner (for him). Before we could get out towards Neal Smith, Jeff said that we had to take a detour. He wouldn't tell me where. I had to wait to find out. I didn't have long.

Every bird you see here is an eagle (some juvenile, some mature)

There is a lake between Des Moines and Ankeny where we had seen a ton of American Coots a couple summers ago. We headed out there, not for the coots this time, but for eagles. There were hundreds of bald eagles spread throughout the trees around the lake. We had the camera and tripod and were able to take some pictures. I hadn't seen this many bald eagles since our trip out to Rock Island. And the weather was perfect for viewing. If I was looking for an omen of a good year ahead, this was it. That many eagles in one place, and right along the road, was incredible.

After some time (and way too many pictures) we hopped into the car to go out to Neal Smith. We're blessed to have this fantastic refuge so close. Neal Smith has been working for years to bring back the prairie to Iowa, something that had been nearly eradicated by development. Jeff and I hiked the long trail at the refuge because it takes us right down next to the enclosure where the buffalo roam. We were rewarded with a huge herd. And some good position for pictures. With the tripod I could take some nice close-ups.

After Neal Smith, there were back roads drives, tons of shopping (I picked up some books and a really nice new robe). Then we headed to Steak N Shake for dinner. Neither Jeff nor I had eaten today so this hit the spot. Steak N Shake is a guilty pleasure. We don't have one in Des Moines so it seems more like a treat. Then we headed home talking the whole way. It was a fantastic day. And a nice way to end 2011. I had a ugly piece of mail (a rejection letter) but I'm trying not to let that damper the day. Now to see what 2012 has to offer. Hopefully plenty of days like this. Happy New Year all.

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