An April Walk
I needed quiet time, nature time, I needed to go to the woods for peace, perspective and healing. I walked through the yard, pass the sheds, turned left, following the fence line, and pass the pond, up the hill, through the rested pasture to the woods and prairie. I stepped carefully over the barbed wire fence, the boundary between intensively managed and minimally managed land. Once over the fence, I paused to decide which direction. While I stood deciding, I saw a flicker of a white tail, bounding away through the trees.
Water, be it rivers, lakes, streams, ponds or the tiniest creek, has always had a calming and restorative effect on my soul and mind. Since it was for spiritual health that I sought solitude in the wild places of the farm, I choose to head southeast to visit the prairie, pond, waterway and yet still walk through woods. (The opposite direction wouldn’t have provided a water source though the trees were lovely.)
Cedars grew in a clump to my immediate right, a well worn deer trail wondered through them. I set out on the deer highway, heading to the prairie. I was startled by a glimpse of something walking out from under a cedar tree several feet ahead. At first, I thought it was a person, and wondered who would be out here and why. Then I saw something else still under the cedar tree, a brownish blob. It only took a moment to figure out it was a wild turkey, probably a hen with a nest, as the second one got up and walked away. I walked pass the clump of cedars, trying not to get too close to the turkey’s spot. Nearly trotting down the hill through tall, brown vegetation, I had to be careful not to turn an ankle. With only a few of the grasses greening beneath the tall dead vegetation, the prairie wasn’t very impressive so I didn’t linger but headed straight for the pond.
It’s a catch pond so it is best enjoyed in the spring after the snow melts, by midsummer it is often dried up or just a puddle is left. A large dike stands on its eastern edge, running approximately north to south. A few small trees grow on the dike’s west side and southern end. The pond itself is nearly surrounded by willow and box elder trees, which become thicker at the south end where the hillside rises up, studded with more trees. A winter of heavy snow will overflow the pond, spreading the water over the feet of these trees. New leaves were bursting from of the trees at different rates. Bird song momentarily lifted my spirits. Being April, the pond was full of spring melt water, a murky grayish brown in color. The muddy bank, which really isn’t much of a bank on the west side, was full of tracks. It looked like a large herd of deer came through for a drink.
Observing the tracks, I walked along the western bank. Beautiful twisted, curved, and turned little trees skirt the south side of the pond. I stood in awe looking through the trees. I marveled at mushrooms on trees, creating shelves.
A small creek runs into the pond, I followed it upstream. It was bubbling and loud, sounding like a larger stream, but a musical delight just the same. I spotted white trout lilies growing near the waterway, it wasn’t until I looked at a field guide later that I identified them. An amazing, hole-riddled snag stood slightly uphill to the left, I paused to appreciate its stark beauty, soaking in the healing splendor of the creation around me.
An incredible shadow passes in the water, a water strider trotting on the surface. Ripples and bubbles in surprisingly clear water. A leaf stuck on the bottom, water seeming to dance over top. A steep bank and miniature waterfall, I imagined it was a mountain river coursing through. For a moment, I forgot myself, allowed peace and beauty to settle deep within and enjoyed God’s handiwork. Trees’ gnarled roots curving along the banks.
Another snag, lying on the ground decaying, covered in thick green moss. I’ve loved that snag for years, sometimes sitting on the still intact branches. Lots of trout lilies in a patch, I stood in awe. I marveled at the sun glistening on the water. Trees bowed over the stream in a near perfect line, subtle yet awe inspiring. Woods slowly turning from dormant and brown to green and lively. Moss preparing to reproduce. Stunning windfalls, the branches almost look like serpents. Maple tree ablaze with red flowers. A refreshing and healing walk, though its effects didn’t quite stay with me when I climbed up the northwest hill, out of the woods and back into the fields and on to the yard.