Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Sunday Stroll

It was a beautiful morning for a stroll last Sunday. The dogwoods were blooming everywhere and bathed the landscape in white, with a few touches of reds and purples from our arboretum specimens. We drove over to the visitors center and started our walk from there. On our way to the Two Ponds Loop area we stopped to visit in the new neighborhood of fairy houses at the bottom of the hill. These are a must-see if you haven't yet and a great thing to recommend for families. Then the ponds offered lots to see. A hatch was in progress, probably craneflies, and more than a hundred cedar waxwings were furiously flying patrols from nearby trees over the water to feast on their good luck. The resident family of Canada Geese (with 6 new goslings) were out for a swimming lesson, oblivious to the activity overhead. At the bridge a red-eared slider came over to see if we were going to set a table for him. A rather large specimen, he was a beauty to observe.

We next walked around the Two Ponds Loop. Chipping Sparrows supervised our visit to their neighborhood. We could hear a Common Yellowthroat, but he stayed hidden. And a male and female Song Sparrow announced the location of their nest. The survivors from the carnage over the ponds were scattered around, resting on the grass. One bug spotted by an NIT is pictured on our website (a photo from last year). He's a common sight near or in the prairie. Butterflies also came by to say "Hi"; Sulphurs, a Cabbage White or two, and a Viceroy (?). We were rather surprised to see that most of the hollies still have their berries. I had thought they'd have ripened and been eaten by now. We noticed the different colors of berries on different specimens.

With time to spare, we decided next to stroll down the new Nursery Loop. There we saw the leaves of Bloodroot and Twinleaf, though neither were in bloom. Some Bloodroots were sporting seed pods. There was lots of Rue Anemone, including some particularly large specimens. Dwarf Larkspur was in abundance, and young enough that the color of the flowers was deep and rich. Violets added their hue of the color too. White violets were also seen, but the exact species escaped us. Sessile Trillium was also abundant. A flower with buds not yet opened might have been White Blue-eyed Grass, and a trip soon to double check would be in order. (This would be a new species for me.) Some Mayapples were seen but were not in bloom. And there was also Solomon's Seal, but again no blooms yet. A good spy by one of the NITs was the leaves of a young Canada Moonseed. Even Butterweed demanded us to notice it. We shortcutted where the loop converges near the middle and made our way back to the visitors center. The sun was already getting hot and the cool of the building was welcome.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coo -- Coo

lonely song
of the waning day
mourning dove

Monday, April 6, 2009

Old Hiking Stick

Old Hiking Stick

You were not straight
with knots and canker
scarred skin like open wounds
Perfect was not your lot

It was lack of symmetry
Like you were set apart from
Rank and File
An outcast from mother’s xylem and phloem

And, yet, on that day
Your separateness claimed my eye in
Olive-hued, sun dappled wood
Where you rested alone

How could I have known
In my wanderin’ time
That you would stay with me
Through sleet and snow?

Or, that you would support me
Atop hills and then hollers
where creek meets slough
or across parched hell earth?

We shared shady coves
And pine scented passageways
Cathedral forests while far off
A Thrush played her flute

Through misty glades and then
perched in rock houses
We watched silent snow
Before my boots turned home

We slid down clay slopes
Made safe by your steady brace
So that by twilight in autumn chill
We could watch dying campfire and moonrise

And at first light of rosy hued dawn
You stood ready to be at my side
And carry me in all moments
Of weak sinew or heart

And, so, my friend, we’ll go on
As your gnarly shaft fills the hollow
Of my calloused hand
As we pause over view and vista

Until, at last, our trails come to a place
Perhaps a soft, well lit meadow
Unknown to us
But, somehow, strangely familiar

In that time we will lie down
Sharing the soft breeze
Where we will become separate once again
As we know we must

And, as autumn leaves tumble around us
With Winter’s frost and dark closing in
I’ll close my eyes and smile slightly
And think of Springs to come