On an impulse, and because I’m still working on my 365 days of walks, I took my camera and wandered the woods of my favorite local park. It was later in the day than I’d normally be out there, and though I had seed and peanuts for any bird I ran into, I wasn’t out there to find picture of birds.
I just wanted to be in the woods.
When I arrived two school bus loads of elementary students were milling about. Not a good sign. But luckily they were loading up to go, so I skirted their noisy mass and headed for the trail the furthest away from chaos.
There I began to notice the trees, and it was as if they were speaking directly to me. Who, they said, ever notices them? Most people are out in these woods looking for birds to feed, or deer to watch, or wildflowers nudging up from the wetlands.
Who notices our bark, they wonder, our towering stature. Who appreciates the shade we provide or the abstract art our branches draw? Who even takes note of the songs we sing when the wind blows and our branches rub against each other?
So this post was going to be all about the trees, the different textures and shapes and sounds I experienced while I was there.
It wasn’t going to be about birds or deer or chipmunks or squirrels.
But as I was concentrating on capturing this lovely old log…
…I heard from somewhere behind me a gentle cry, almost a soft whining. I looked back to find this little one asking politely if I had something, anything, for him to eat.
Normally the nuthatches are a little more reticent and don’t come down to my hand until they’ve studied me awhile, until other birds, those brave titmice or the cheeky chickadee have made successful landings. But this little guy was hungry and no one else was around, so he had to be brave.
And just like that birds began arriving from every direction.
And it was that way the rest of my walk.
But along the way I did find other beautiful things. Like these fungus growing along a fallen log.
And the last bit of winter color hanging on.
And as I climbed a hill I ran into these guys.
Still looking for interesting trees, I turned to walk around the small lake, and was approaching my favorite stand of white pines, rounding a corner, and literally had to stop in my tracks. Because marching down the path toward me were a pair of cranes without a care in the world.
They walked right up to me as I was clicking away, and, without seeming to notice me, walked on by within inches of my hip. This didn’t really surprise me as the cranes here are so used to people. They usually ask for something to eat, but I’m a bit timid about letting them eat out of my hand. So I tossed them a few seeds and moved away to watch.
I had to laugh as they moved on down the trail and one of them stopped to stretch.
I continued on my way around the lake, anxious now to get back to the car. I had more than enough photos to choose from for my one photo of the day. And I’d been out there for a couple hours already and had barely walked 2 miles. Couldn’t even count this walk as exercise!
But the surprises weren’t over.
Around a few more corners, almost back to the busiest part of the park, I saw a deer munching on lunch. And behind her was something white. At first I thought it was just something caught in a tree, some trash perhaps.
Or maybe it was a cow.
A cow? Oh no, not a cow, but the fabled albino deer I’d heard about but never hoped to see. I didn’t get close, and there was a lot of brush and trees between me and it. But oh my.
Be still my heart.
I stood quietly for a very long time, just watching, not wanting to startle it or cause it to run. Eventually I eased myself further away long the path with a huge smile on my face. A once in a lifetime sighting.
So that was my day wandering in the park, talking to the trees and my usual suspects of birds. For a day when I didn’t think I’d see much of anything I sure had some wonderful experiences.
Thinking back on it all I feel, just like Mr. Blackbird, like crowing.