Natural Beauty

I’ve always enjoyed what I call warm/cold mornings in early Spring. Even though the temperature reading may be below freezing, the warmth of the sun is such that stepping outside is a pleasure. The senses sharpen, the body feels more alive, and a general feeling of wellbeing floods the brain. Such was the reality of a recent walk with our dog, Toby.

As we strolled out through the “tunnel” of Bahnson Hall, I knew I’d selected my clothing just right for the morning, something that’s important for the feeling of euphoria. Inappropriate gear means being too cold (inadvisable at best) or too warm (tolerable but uncomfortable). I always know within the first five minutes as my physical body reacts to the conditions. This morning it means slightly cold ears and cheeks with the remainder of the body just right after a warm up of slow walking for five minutes. Toby demonstrated his approval of the conditions with a frisky strut.

The sun was above the horizon enough to provide welcome warmth and vistas of clear blue sky. A lone goose flew overhead, honking and listening, honking and listening until he was answered by a distant friend. I could distinguish the distinct songs or calls of at least six other birds, some of impressive volume. I know these calls are often used for claiming territory, but on this morning they added to the positive ambience of the outdoors. Many thanks to my avian friends.

The man-made clearings along the Buckalew Trail are always a treasure trove of scents for an interested

dog. The accumulated piles of waste wood debris would be considered an eyesore to some, but Toby sees them with his nose as an incredibly attractive part of the walk. Within those piles are pockets of protected space, places small woodland critters call home. Toby knows where those homes are secreted and would likely spend all day in pursuit of elusive prey if I let him off his leash.

As we walked along the trail through the woods, I noted the sign for the “Turtle Watch” with the bench newly installed. There were no turtles on the fallen trees in the lake, but none were expected this early in the day. I have seen upwards of thirty turtles perched on those downed trunks, sunning themselves with their friends and relatives crowded together in an impressive array. You have to sit very quietly there for them to assemble.

As we approached the bench at the corner of the large, open field, I heard another bird noise: the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker. It was so loud and persistent that even with my myopia I was able to locate it on a large red oak. Insects for breakfast! Oh goody!

We then circled around the woods at the edge of the field and headed back down the gravel road toward the dam. I was struck by how calm Babcock Lake was and took some pictures of the nearly perfect reflection of the observation area and buildings beyond. How fortunate I am to be able to start my day this way nearly every morning.

by Michael Boing

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