Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quiet evening walk

The pileated woodpeckers’ avian war at my cabin was quiet this morning. Whether that means the war is over, or I’m simply in a lull between battles is too soon to say. I’m happy for the quiet, even if it turns out to be temporary.

Last evening I took a walk around Roundtop, ranging in the opposite direction of my usual travels, just to see if that brought me anything new or different to see. I started out walking past the tubing lodge, heading downhill, at first on macadam, then on stone and eventually on an unimproved forest road. The weather was nice for once in this wettest of springs, and the woods were full of life.

I passed a seasonal stream rushing noisily downhill, nearly covered by undergrowth. The undergrowth proved to be a valued hiding spot for both chickadees and titmice, who balanced on tiny twigs just inches above the water, occasionally dropping down to take a sip.

When the road finally turned to dirt, a pair of rabbits bounced along several skips ahead of me but in no hurry to disappear. Daisies are beginning to appear along the road’s edge, now. Wild phlox and fleabane, mostly white but some a dainty pale pink, also seek the sunnier spots along the road.

The evening was warm, but not too warm to enjoy a walk. Perhaps the pleasant temperature is what brought out the animals, too. In another month, the evenings will be sultry, and the idea of an evening walk less compelling. In this year, the weather has hampered my evening walking. I don’t mind walking in rain, though it is nearly always less enjoyable than a sunny evening’s walk. But this year rain has usually meant a downpour, not a gentle mist, and I draw the line at walking in a downpour. As a result, I have had few evening walks since the snow disappeared nearly two months ago now. That’s a hard truth to wrap my head around, since evening walks are usually as common for me as eating dinner—and sometimes even more so as I’ve missed many dinners in favor of a good walk.

Truthfully, not much that I saw was different than the last time I walked here, at least not in any major or substantial way. Long ago I learned that the woods change almost daily, if the walker is observant. New plants and flowers all have their own moment to shine, with their dominance ascending or waning from one week to the next. Birds that noisily proclaim the spring turn quiet when nesting is underway. It’s just the normal yearly cycle of the forest.

Other times, changes are more permanent. A dominant tree falls and the entire nature of the area around it changes too. But yesterday evening, that kind of change was not evident. The woods are still there. The old road is still there. And me.

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