A desperate need to take a walk in the woods filled me; I was feeling a little downcast and needed some uplifting. Long before I reached the woods, I delighted in the beauty around me. The buds of the silver maples seemed to be ready to burst at any moment. The sweet song of the red wing black bird floated from the honey locust tree. Using my telephoto lens, I watched it for a little while. Its beak separated as it made a noise. But when it called its wings splayed and its chest puffed pushing the long trill out.
I marveled at the ice on the puddles, the beautiful designs, bumps, swirls, and bubbles. Frost crystals clung to the ice in places. The fading moon graced the deep blue sky with a sliver of white. Above the pond, up the hill, I saw something large in a tree.
With my camera lens, I saw it was a bald eagle. Suddenly ahead of me another bald eagle and a cooper’s hawk took flight. As I got closer to where they must have been I saw crows feeding on a carcass. As I walked past, the crows angrily flew off, grumbling as they dispersed.
I walked along the fence line; the snow had melted in spots, leaving brown, dead grass. The snow that was left crunched loudly underfoot. I continued on through the rested pasture. Here were ripples in the snow like sand dunes, perhaps created by the daily thawing and refreezing of the snow. I came to the spot where Becky and I had stepped over the fence a couple months earlier. The barbed wire was held fast under deep, crusted snow. Down the slope the snow was smooth to the eyes, no ripple marks textured it. I could have slid down, instead I walked carefully. I sat down to just take a moment to listen and soak in the day. Gliding my fingers across the surface of the snow, it felt granular. The sun, bird calls and beauty of it all filled me – my spirit was lightened. Lying on my back, I had become one with my surroundings, letting the cardinal’s whistle soothe me. I lay down to listen, feel, and be healed. Although the temperatures were only around ten degrees Fahrenheit, it didn’t feel too cold, other than my backside in the snow. Before long, my backside was going numb from sitting in the snow along with my legs from being out in front of me. I had to keep moving, there was more I wanted to see and explore, before long I had to return to the world of humans.
Crows flow over head, cawing, perhaps upset by my presence. I walked through a clump of red cedars, thinking of childhood when I would have hid under them. Without lingering, I kept walking, now going down the hill toward the back pond. Pieces of dead grass and flowers stuck to my jacket as I brushed by them. About halfway down the hill, I paused to look back; then started walking again toward the pond. Once there, I stepped three feet onto its frozen surface. A dull crack sounded at the far end. For the next few minutes I stood in wonder listening to the sound of the pond, shifting and warming in the sun. It echoed dully. First it sounded almost like the snap of a taunt rope, then similar to the gurgle of a stomach. The noise was low in frequency. Next it sounded like gurgling water from something surfacing. As I listened I almost thought I could feel the pond moving beneath me. The dull noise it made was beautiful and can’t properly be described. It was like an orchestra warming up. The echo resounded across the pond. I wanted to stay and listen longer but I was getting cold. Carefully, I stepped off the pond.
Wading through dried grasses and flower stems that reached above my waist, I began to walk uphill, taking a different course. The wind rustled through the dead vegetation, sometimes it sounded like an animal or person. I walked clumsily on the semi soft snow. For the amount of noise I was making, it seemed like I was crashing through the vegetation up the hill. I wished I could have made less noise, but it was impossible. Towards the top of the hill, I turned around to look at the pond, it was spectacular, glistening in the morning sun. I looked forward to returning to the pond once the ice melted and the water warmed, freeing the amphibians from their muddy burrows. I turned away, ahead of me, I saw a red tailed hawk fly away. Then I watched a cooper’s hawk flying to the south of me, seeming at first to be heading my direction but then veered away. Through the trees, I observed an eagle soaring. I stumbled up the last part of the hill. Marveling at the grasses, bergamot, and golden rods seemingly stuck in place bent over by an invisible weight, perhaps from all the snow we had this winter.
I came to the fence again; here too it was stuck in deep snow. I stepped over it, and was in the far side of the rested pasture. I walked to the edge and stepped once more over a barbed wire fence. Walking along the field driveway that was muddy in places, I was surprised it was thawing. My face was numb with cold, my fingers and ears were close despite my gloves and hat. On top of the hill now, I was blasted with a cold breeze. My pace back to the house quickened.