It was a long, lingering winter. Now that spring is finally here, I feel like I’m trying to absorb it through my very pores. Taking advantage of more daylight and warmer temperatures, I’ve been walking a lot after work lately. Today, I visited a local preserve to visit some vernal pools and then walk a loop around the heath. It was a glorious spring afternoon, cool, but brilliantly sunny.
At the first vernal pool my eyes skimmed the water, searching for frogs or turtles. Light rippled on the pond water and the cattails whispered dryly in the gentle breeze. A shadow caught my eye. I watched fascinated as a salamander swam just beneath the surface of the water. It propelled itself forward, then slowed, allowing its legs to dangle. I watched for long minutes mesmerized by its movement in and out of shadows.
At the second vernal pool, two turtles, hearing me approach, slipped off their small island and into the water. I sat on a granite outcropping at the water’s edge. I waited, relaxed, yet watchful. Finally, under the water, I saw movement. I followed a turtle’s path as it swam across the pond to emerge near a short distance away. It looked at me. We sat together in the shade, while the birds called and red squirrels and chipmunks rustled through the leaves.
After a bit, I walked over to the heath trail. Overhead a trio of ducks flew, their calls a counterpoint to the burgeoning chorus of the peepers. The heath grasses unfolded with green upon green upon green. My eye was drawn to clusters of fiddle head ferns lollipopping in Seuss-like bouquets and the architecture of unfolding skunk cabbage. Puddles reflected tree trunks, budding branches and blue skies.
Finally, turning a corner on the path, I saw a muskrat zooming through the water toward me, its wake a perfect vee. It came closer and closer, and then stopped to scramble out of the water onto some watery hillocks. It nibbled at some plants. I watched. We spent long minutes together in the heath.
Finally, I moved on, lost in my surroundings until I finished my walk, thankful and at peace.
What a beautiful day. What a beautiful place. What a beautiful world.