Thursday, August 11, 2011


Green heron at sunset

Last evening I set off into the woods an hour or so before sunset. The shadows were already long and inviting. The sky was a deep, clear blue with no humidity to shorten the distance or obscure the view.

I followed no path and had only a vague notion of where I was going. What I really wanted to do was walk where I hadn’t walked recently, where ticks, high grass and higher temperatures had defeated my ambition for a while. It’s one thing to wear long pants to avoid ticks when the temperature is cool, but doing so when it’s 95 is more than I am willing to do. Now that the season is heading towards fall and the grasses are drying up, ticks are already fewer in number, and now I am willing.

So I wandered through the long grasses between the forest and a pond, scaring up frogs and scattering dragonflies of various sizes and shapes. A green heron squawked and flew into a tree on the edge of the woods. A belted kingfisher rattled, flying low over the pond, slaloming its way between a flock of Canada geese and a lone mallard in eclipse plumage.

The shadows lengthened and still I walked, up into a pine forest that whispered on the northwest breeze, past the scolding crows. I walked past the tornado-damaged trees and the drooping brown-eyed susans. I hopped over a tiny, no-name stream, running full again after a rainy week. I heard the patter of a groundhog’s feet as it galloped across a ski slope to get away from me. I saw the doe and fawns grazing up on the hill, raising their heads and twitching their tails as I passed.

I saw the sun fall low against the distant hill and the first stars of evening join the nearly full moon in the sky above before I found my way back. It was only the darkness that brought me back to the cabin. If not for that, I might still be walking.


Scott said...

Thanks for bringing me along for your late summer evening walk. I especially loved the kingfisher slaloming among the waterfowl. Autumn's assuredly on its way (I even opened the bedroom windows last night), but I'll bet we'll still get lots more hot weather.

Pablo said...

These are the best kinds of walks. I, too, am glad the ticks are in decline for the year.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I'll bet there will be more hot weather, too. Since August is apparently going to be rather cool, I'm thinking mid-September is likely to be hotter than I want or like. Usually, that's how it goes.

Pablo: I'm just glad I have lots of different choices for my wanderings. It would be hard for me to have to walk the same route every day. I think I'd soon be avoiding that walk.