The Browns Bounce Back

Today the Cleveland Browns won a game they absolutely had to win.  By the end of the season this game may mean nothing — but at least a win in a must-win game is a welcome change from prior seasons.

The Browns beat the Indianapolis Colts, 27-19.  It’s not a great achievement, because the Colts without Peyton Manning are like a mighty aircraft carrier without a captain.  Nevertheless, any win on the road in the NFL is a win to be celebrated.  For the Browns in particular, the game is worth relishing because the Browns actually managed to hold onto, and then expand, a fourth-quarter lead and put the game away.  Peyton Hillis’ hard-running 24-yard touchdown gallop gave the Browns a two-score lead, and the defense’s forcing a fumble from Kerry Collins on the next series was the back-breaker.

The Browns have a long way to go, but winning to keep pace with the other teams in the AFC North was crucial.  Today’s game also showed some promising signs.  For the first time since Kamerion Wimbley’s rookie season, the Browns may have an defensive line that can consistently pressure the opposing quarterback without blitzing.  I particularly like the hustling, never-say-quit play of rookie lineman Jabaal Sheard.  Colt McCoy had a reasonably good day throwing the ball, which is essential if you are going to run the West Coast offense.  And the Browns continued to stick with the rushing game, wearing the Colts down until Hillis sprang his clutch run.

This win is a baby step, but it is a baby step in the right direction after last week’s embarrassing performance against the Bengals.

Living With A Dog With “Inflamed Intestinal Lining”

“Inflamed intestinal lining.”  That was the veterinarian’s diagnosis when we took a very sick Penny in this week.  It sounds horrible, and it is.  To coin a phrase, you wouldn’t wish it on a dog.

What causes it?  Who knows?  Given Penny’s uncontrollable appetite, and her “outdoor” diet, it could have been just about anything.  After all, this is a dog that will lick at any sticky spot in the road and, when taken for a walk so that she may answer nature’s call, is incessantly nosing in the grass, looking for a stray bit of garbage or rabbit poop.  Her intestinal tract has managed to process the most appalling grub imaginable — maybe it just got tired of the job.

In any case, you don’t want your dog to get “inflamed intestinal lining.”  Trust me on this!  Penny ended up leaking dark brown crud from both ends, leaving our beige family room rug as spotted as the coat on an Appaloosa mare.  She wouldn’t eat, and she wouldn’t even get up when Kish left the house.  But the vet figured it out, and Penny is back on the bounce.

After our bout with “inflamed intestinal lining,” I understand the meaning of the phrase “sick as a dog.”

The Shores Of Lake Erie, As They Once Were

A heron scouts for prey at the Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve

When we were up at Lake Erie over the summer, Russell and I took a long walk through the beautiful Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve.  Located in Erie County, the 465-acre Preserve contains some of the last undisturbed stretches of natural Lake Erie shoreline.

The marshes, swamps, and woods at the Preserve

Strolling through the Preserve gives you a good sense of the sprawling wetlands and lake-marsh-forest ecosystems that used to be found everywhere along Lake Erie’s shores.  Starting from the lake itself and heading inland, you walk past barrier beaches, swamps filled with cattails, woodland marshes, hardwood forests, and “old fields.”  The ecosystems gradually change from one to the next, each marked by their own mix of flora and fauna.

The Preserve is home to hundreds of different species of birds and different kinds of wildflowers.  Among the birds that call the Preserve home are herons, red-tailed hawks, wood ducks, terns, woodcocks, and numerous songbirds.

The curious water flowers at the Preserve

Russell and I particularly enjoyed watching the white herons at the Preserve, absolutely motionless on their perches and patiently scanning the water, looking for a meal.  We also were fascinated by a water plant with broad green leaves and a single, fist-like bud that grew on a thin stalk and then opened into a bright white flower.  These curious plants grew in profusion on the edge between the swamp and the marshland.

The Preserve is free and is found along U.S. 6, just west of Huron.  Autumn is supposed to be a good time to visit, particularly if you like bird-watching, because the Preserve is a favorite spot for migrating birds.  It’s well worth a visit.