First Landing State Park, October 11

I woke this morning with the urge to make an audio recording of frog song. Nature seldom cooperates, when my plans are that specific, and today was no exception. Yesterday, one of the park’s small ponds was a cacophony of harsh croaks and lyrical trills. Today it was mostly silent. Here’s why:

So I have no audio to share. Instead I have sunlight and woodpeckers…

A Walk in the Park

The day was remarkably warm, and I couldn’t resist a walk in the park. Neither could anyone else, it seemed, because the parking lot and trails bustled with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. Needless to say, most of the park’s wild residents were in hiding. Even so, this downy woodpecker lingered near the road, and an egret paused at my camera’s most distant limit.

Near the end of my walk, I stumbled into a herd of mourning cloak butterflies.

And finally, just before I reached my car, I noticed a commotion across the road. A large, mixed flock of warblers, chickadees, and other small birds flitted through the underbrush, staying long enough for me to catch a single frame of bluebird.

After they moved on, I hesitated, as I always do when it’s time to leave. My reluctance was rewarded when a pileated woodpecker flashed by and lit just a few yards away. She and I spent a few curious moments sizing each other up, then she went ahead with her foraging as I fumbled with my camera.

And now I’m home again, relaxing in my office. The dog is asleep at my feet, her arthritic legs and gray muzzle twitching as she dreams mysterious dog dreams. The cats are sprawled in splashes of sun, whiskers ruffled by a cool breeze that promises I will have to close the windows soon.

Soon, but not just yet…

Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers

Early last year, while walking at First Landing State Park, I noticed a small flock of chickadees foraging alongside a pair of downy woodpeckers. The chickadees seemed like amateurs in such practiced company, but all of the birds appeared to enjoy success.

It was the first time I had seen chickadees exhibit this particular foraging technique, and the already beautiful day brightened. The euphoria of my new knowledge followed me home. It lingered for days, sending me back to the Park for another walk much sooner than I might otherwise have gone.

I was able to capture a few seconds with my camera, a fleeting glimpse that words alone would never convey. I find this difficult to admit, as I love words and am reluctant to acknowledge their limits. I find it even more difficult to accept that the moment can never be reproduced or shared in full. How unfair, that time and space conspire to render memory so singular and personal.