Monday, November 14, 2016

Seeking Solace in Nature

It wasn't a good week.  I'm sure most of my blog readers can guess how I feel about the presidential election, but there were other sadnesses, too, including the death of an old friend and encountering the grief of her children.  But there were happy times, too, when our daughter came home to console her childhood friend, and later in the week our son and his darling children arrived just to spend some fun time with us.  And in between death duties and family activities, I did manage to get outdoors.  Nothing lifts my spirits more than wandering the woods or being by water. Here are some of the places I went this past week to soothe my soul.

Actually, the low water levels of Mud Pond at Moreau, are more like a source of worry than consolation, but I still enjoyed walking the shore of the pond under a clear blue sky. At some points, I could almost cross the pond by jumping across a narrow channel that connects the back bay with the major body of the pond.

It amazes me that flocks of geese still find enough water to rest on at Mud Pond.

On my way home along Spier Falls Road, I stopped to fill my senses with this gorgeous view of the Hudson River meandering among mountains beneath a vast blue sky.

Last Thursday, I joined my friends in the Thursday Naturalists for a very pleasant walk along the Shenantaha Creek near Malta. Although a chilling wind was blowing in the open areas, back in the sheltering woods along the creek we found the weather quite pleasant.

We were especially pleased that our friend Sue Pierce had the day off from work to join us.  Sue is famous for her eagle eyes, and none of us would have seen the Spotted Salamander Sue is pointing to here, if she hadn't spotted it first.

What a beauty, with those vivid yellow spots on a licorice-black body!  Spotted Salamanders usually hide out under logs, so we rarely get to see them.

Another fun moment of our outing this day was finding a patch of Atrichum moss and observing how quickly the leaves curl up when plucked, an attribute that is diagnostic for this moss.  The crinkled-up leaves on the left had been in my hand for less than half a minute, while the freshly picked ones on the right had not yet begun to curl.

When our youngest son and his family came to visit, we all made a visit to Schuylerville to meet our oldest boy, who lives there. Together, we all went for a walk along the old towpath that lies between the Hudson River and the now-abandoned barge canal.  It was blustery cold, but we bundled up in mittens and scarves and kept warm by trying to keep up with frolicking children.

Today, November 14, was the warmest day we've had in some time, close to 60 degrees and with clear blue skies and lots of sun.  I pulled my canoe back out of storage and set out for a paddle among the Hudson's quiet coves at Moreau.

Except for some oaks with their cinnamon-brown leaves, very little autumn color remains. But the Highbush Blueberry shrubs with their scarlet leaves still glow along the shore.

I can't imagine a sight more conducive to promoting feelings of peace than this river running serenely within its embracing forested banks.  I just wish our next President might leave his gilded tower for a day and let natural beauty like this convince him to do everything he can to protect our earth.

What a glorious explosion of color I found in this Winterberry swamp along the Corinth Mountain Road! Last year I had to search and search to find any berries at all, but this year the shrubs are making up for that dearth, big time!

And what an amazing moon is sailing across the sky tonight!  The biggest and brightest moon we will see for decades to come!  What magic powers does the moon possess, that we still stop and gaze at her, entranced?  I wish that her silvery glow that softens the edges of things in the night might inspire us to soften our battered hearts and help us to treat one another with kindness and love.

I think that this poem by Wendell Berry is one we could take to heart:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things" from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. 


Uta said...

I also had death duty last week. A friends husband had died and she has no children or family. She also does not drive. We help out where we can to make life better for others.
The pictures you are showing are so calming and enjoyable, thank you.

Woody Meristem said...

The past week leaves me with the thought "And this too shall pass"; but it's sad to think of all the people who will be severely hurt by what's to come and the land that will probably suffer mightily.

The Furry Gnome said...

Very nice poem. When I get out on the trail in the woods I feel just the same - Canadians are a bit worried over the results of your election too.

Anonymous said...

Lovely ruminations. Thank you.