Tuesday, April 2, 2019

My Name is Jada
Story and photos by Brenna Powelson (Jada's favorite)

My name is Jada. I wrote this story to tell you how grateful I am to my human family for adopting me. 

The first  thing I remember when I was with my first family was that everything was fine until I turned one year old! That's when my family moved and left me behind. I walked for a while. It was dark, and I was starving; nobody had fed me that day. Not knowing a car was coming I walked into the road, and all I remember was the car lights blinding me, {note I am not blind} and I tried to run, but I got hit! The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground. I got up and walked to a tree. I was weak and had no family.

The next day some people pulled over to help me. They took me to a vet. I was happy to be taken care of again. Then the vet told them I had heart worms. I had no idea what that meant, but it did not sound good. When we left I thought I would be going home, but I was wrong--oh how I was wrong! I was in a crate in a shelter where I had been staying for a month when I overheard some people saying that they could not afford my heart worm treatment. Nobody wanted me because of my heart worms, so a person lowered my adoption fee to $50.00. I saw dogs leave to go to a new home every day, but not me.

Finally, one day I was told I was getting a new family. We drove from Arkansas to a PetSmart in Illinois. After an hour of seeing dogs leave but not me, I got sad again. But when I saw a family of four I got nervous. When they said my name, JADA, I was filled with hope! As soon as I got out of the van, I laid down, AND THEY GAVE ME A BELLY RUB--I REPEAT A BELLY RUB! When I got in their van they gave me a treat, and I slept all the way home.

When we got home I met a new dog named Wappi. She attacked me, but after that we became best friends. The first six months were not easy, but I got through it, and now I have no heart worms. I have been here for two years, and it is safe to say I have found my forever or furever home  I love my family. My favorite is the youngest {Brenna}.

My Best Friend, Wappi

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Coming Soon, "Bee in her Bonnet," the fifth book in the Nature Station Mystery Series 
It’s summer at the Nature Station, and love is in the air! The prairie and newly installed pollinator garden are ablaze with color and buzzing with life—and death—when a guest drops dead the day after the bridal shower maid of honor, Kristen Matthews, hosted for her best friend and co-worker, Hope Johnson.
A seed is planted in Kristen’s mind after she and Hope discover the body. Is the victim’s allergy to blame for her untimely death, or was she murdered? With Hope and Deputy Todd Livingston’s wedding just around the corner, Kristen and her friends hurry to dig up the dirt from the past to help solve the present day case. Will they track down the killer in time for Hope and Todd to begin their future life together?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sand Dunes Galore

My family and I were lucky to travel to Lake Michigan during Columbus Day weekend, as we try to do most years. We only took a short trip for our summer vacation, so I was especially geared up for our fall trip. I was looking forward to traveling to some places I hadn’t visited before, even though they’re just a few hours from home.
We were disheartened to learn that rain was predicted for the entire Saturday through Monday timeframe we planned to be gone. Fortunately, we timed most of our outdoor activities fairly well, and though we got rained on a few times, at least we didn’t get caught in a torrential downpour. The winds and dark clouds that came with the rain helped to make the scenery we visited even more dramatic and beautiful.
Our first stop was to visit the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and State Park. We enjoyed not only climbing the massive dunes and experiencing spectacular views of Lake Michigan, but we also were able to hike through the shaded wooded trails to get there, which were also lovely. As we left the park and headed toward our hotel in Michigan, it started pouring, so we were happy to travel inside the warm vehicle, enjoying the beautiful tree foliage.
The next day we visited Grand Haven State Park, located in the town where we were staying, enjoying another great view of one of the greatest lakes, and the houses and other buildings built right into the dunes. We headed south to hike in beautiful Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Starting the hike through the peaceful forest trail, we eventually arrived at the dunes, where the view opened up to the vastness of Lake Michigan.

Again, it started to rain as we got back to the car, so we made a few indoor stops in Holland, then went to Holland State Park to view its perky red lighthouse when the rain stopped. Worn out from our day’s adventure, we topped off our sightseeing by stopping at a produce stand to pick up some tasty Michigan apples.
The next day dawned sunny and warm, a vast contrast to the two previous days. Since we were planning to visit Warren Dunes State Park on the way home, I was glad for the perfect weather. This park contains not only beautiful shoreline but also humungous dunes that are easily accessible right from the parking lot. If you’re willing to hike farther, even more dunes await. Seriously winded after the almost three-hundred foot sandy climb to the top, the view was well worth the workout, though by this time the back that had started aching a few days earlier, was in serious trouble. But what was I supposed to do? Not experience such neat places? No, that option definitely wasn’t on my bucket list!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Heading Onward and Northward

We recently took a mini vacation to Wisconsin. Not only do I enjoy traveling to faraway places, but I also love being able to take a quick trip to somewhere relatively nearby—like Wisconsin—and still see some incredibly neat things! At first my travel bug daughter (the apple didn’t fall far!) was disappointed we weren’t going somewhere farther away or more exotic, or at least somewhere we hadn’t visited several times. However, I was especially gratified when she told me loved the fact that we had visited three state parks in two days—all of them with fabulous views of Lake Michigan.

We started our Wisconsin adventure by stopping at the welcome center near Beloit, stocking up on more travel brochures than we could possibly need on our short trip. After lunch at a quaint and friendly small-town café, we motored toward Milwaukee, where traffic was remarkably heavy for a Sunday. Glad to have finally made it out of the city intact, we drove a few more miles up the road to Port Washington, a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. For once, the weather was ideal, and while my husband looked around Duluth Trading Company, the girls and I hung out at the marina, soaking up lakefront scenery. From there, we continued north, stopping at one of my all-time favorite state parks, Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan. Not only can you swim in the water and walk along the beautiful sandy beaches, but you can also hike among the spectacular dunes areas. Tired after hiking and wading, we drove north to where we were staying in Manitowoc.

 The hotel was located right on the lake, with access to a lakeside path. After dinner we took a walk and experienced the moon coming up over the water, a spectacular fiery reddish-orange color. We ate breakfast the next day on the patio with tables and chairs facing—you guessed it—the lake! For a landlubber like me, being able to experience these majestic waters is a special treat, and I don’t turn down an opportunity to soak it up as much as possible. Leaving the hotel, we headed
northward, commenting on the awesome bike and pedestrian trails that connected all the public beaches along the way. We decided to venture into the Door County Peninsula. After stops at Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Coffee, we changed our original plan and kept going to Peninsula State Park. We did not regret our decision and experienced more gorgeous lakeside scenery, but this time from along the skyline drive, with views of not only the lake but also some of the tiny islands nearby.

Since we wanted to visit another one of my all-time favorite state parks, Point Beach State Forest, we finally started southward. Though worn out from an already busy day, we still managed to find some energy to explore this park and spent time “just chilling” on the beach.
The next day started for home, taking a route not only to bypass busy weekday traffic through Milwaukee, but also to see some different scenery. Although I was sad to head inland, I was excited to visit Horicon Marsh. This marsh includes both state and federal portions and encompasses 32,000 acres. You can imagine the diversity of plants and animals that inhabit this area!  
Although our trip was too short, it gave us a chance to spend some wonderful family time together
and experience new things at some of our favorite old places. For those of you who have read any of my Nature Station Mysteries, the characters in Freak of Nature take a trip similar to this one, even stumbling upon a body at one of the stops. That’s one travel experience I can do without!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Going Wild for Spring Woodland Wildflowers

It took a long time for spring to arrive this year, but now that it’s here, nature has sprung to life! Although spring woodland wildflower blooms were a little behind schedule this year, it didn’t make them any less beautiful. Some of my favorite spring beauties are Dutchman’s Britches, Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Blood Roots, May Apples, Bluebells, (let’s not forget the actual Spring Beauties) and many others. Not only do I enjoy looking at, identifying, and photographing wildflowers, even though I already have a library of hundreds of wildflower photos, I also love walking in the woods to absorb the peacefulness.

After a busy and stressful day or week, if I spend even a few minutes in the forest, I feel refreshed and destressed. Once the wildflowers have bloomed for the year, there is still much to see…and hear, as well! The forest is teaming not only with plant life but also animal life. We may not see all the critters that live in the forest, but sometimes we can hear them. If you’re good at birding by ear, (which I’m not, but I still like to hear all the different bird calls, even if I don’t always know which bird is making them) you can hear a whole host of feathered friends. You can also listen to mammals, insects, and amphibians. I’m not sure the reptiles we have in our area are very noisy, unless you happen to stumble upon a snake, which may hiss at you. Despite all the animal racket, the forest is a peaceful place to reflect, and hopefully relax. I’m glad I have the opportunity to visit a local wooded area, and I love to take my daughters and dogs along as well. However, to be honest, it’s more relaxing without two dogs dragging me around the hiking trail. I’m sure if I let them off leash to wander at their hearts’ content, they would be ecstatic, but I would have a hard time rounding them up afterwards, and my peacefulness would be shattered.

Spring Beauty
Since spring is the time for many nature holidays and conservation education programs, I’ve enjoyed being out in nature, and I’ve also been able to witness children discover, experience, and observe nature (outside of taking my own daughters to as many state and national parks as possible). One activity for children I’ve used recently is a type of Nature Scavenger Hunt. Not only does this activity teach children about plants, animals, and other natural elements, but it makes them think about, take a closer look at, and listen to the world around them. Hopefully they continue to do so when they leave the event, but in the day and age of computers and other electronic devices, it’s hard to compete. Not everyone is like me—someone who escapes to the woods (and later in the season, the prairie) to escape my phone and computer!

Blood Root