It all began when I stepped out the back door just before six o’clock this morning. From the treeline I heard a barred owl call, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” I could have returned to bed then, happy for the opportunity to hear such a wise one.
Not long after that, as I passed by a window in the butler’s pantry (no, we don’t have a butler, just an old farmhouse), a splash of red on the ground drew my focus–a Northern flicker had stopped by to feed. Notice the subtle curve of its bill? The better to dig up ants and beetles, as is the custom of this ground-feeding woodpecker.
An hour or so later, I met my friend, Marita, for a hike up the Bald Peak trail at Pleasant Mountain. Our destination–not the summit as we had a time constraint–but rather, Needles Eye.
Our climb included frequent stops at vantage points to take in the sound and beauty of the place.
The flow of the living water and its ever changing presentation mesmerized us much as leaping flames do.
It spiraled over the rocks like a sculpture in fluid motion.
And while so much poured forth and wound its way down the mountain stream,
some remained frozen in time.
At the sign pointing toward Needles Eye, we crossed a stream and then worked our way across the short spur to the narrow formation of rocks that water threads through.
I should qualify that. Marita sauntered across the ice and snow, seeking the wee bit of dirt and leaves at the edge of the trail. It’s a steep edge and even on a summer day, I pick my way carefully over rocks and tree roots. Today, my brain suggested I call it good and sit still. But, she’s a good friend, and realizing my trepidation (I’d forewarned her), she spoke to me calmly about each foot placement, and even turned back to demonstrate exactly what I should do, waited patiently as my brain shouted, “Don’t do it!” and my heart said, “I think you can, I think you can,” and offered a hand when necessary.
Together, we did it. This photo is Marita’s as I didn’t want to change my camera lens once we stood in the chasm and watched the water fall.
On a summer day, it’s a delightfully damp place to rest before continuing up the mountain. Sometimes, there’s only a hint of a stream. Today, it was equally enchanting–perhaps we should have bowed in respect of the beauty and power before us. And just maybe we did.
Returning on the spur, Marita again came to my aid. And then we hiked a bit further up until time forced us to head down again.
The descent seemed easier as the snow had softened a bit in the two hours we’d spent enjoying each other’s company and filling our senses with the sights and sounds surrounding us.
Back at home, I was pulled out the door again and made my way to the vernal pool. Ever so gradually, the ice is melting.
And across the center, a crack divided it in two from east to west, while a line between the sunshine and shade completed the quadrants from north to south.
Piles of pepper, aka springtails, floated on melted water atop the ice.
Others clustered on the open water at the pool’s edge. Other than that, I could see no action. Every day, however, will bring something new so I know I’ll check back frequently.
Leaving the pool behind, I headed toward the area where I’d heard the barred owl several hours earlier–and I called. It didn’t respond. But, I reminded myself that this morning’s greeting was enough.
Returning home again, I couldn’t resist the crocuses that I first noticed yesterday. In the past few days, the snow has receded quickly and with today’s light, these spring beauties finally opened.
And then, in the garden beside the house, I found one more surprise–a double daffodil blossoming under some leaves. In this season of watching with wonder, my heart was full.
This day will stick with me for its offerings and I’ll be forever grateful to Marita . . .
for without her help, I wouldn’t have had the gumption to stand in the Needles Eye. She is a kind and funny and wise(r) soul. And I am blessed by our friendship.
P.S. Two minutes after posting this blog, a woodchuck ran across the deck–headed toward the barn, of course.