The sunshine graced us miraculously today and the temps got to 40, so it was a great day rejuvenate outside! I headed to Ashland Nature Center, where the snow glistened and the chickadees filled the air with their joyful “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”. The crows cawed to one another and the dark-eyed juncos darted in and out of the thickets.
The trail near Indian Rill stream has been well traveled by the area deer. Tracks were clear and plentiful, and I could follow the trails for quite a bit, discerning their direction of travel. The sun glistening off the water and the quiet bubbling was a welcome balm for a winter-worn spirit.
Some of the trails were slow going, as the snow was turning to slush and quite slippery. The marsh boardwalk was buried beneath the snow but still a busy place, as evidenced by the muskrat, fox and deer tracks. Standing in center of the marsh proved to be the warmest spot on today’s journey, requiring me to open my coat and remove my gloves.
As I headed past the Red Clay Creek, I paused briefly on a bench to listen to the call of nearby ducks, feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and being serenaded by the rushing of the Red Clay in front of me. I continued my journey, working my way to Wildflower Brook, past some delicately-branching eastern hemlock trees with their tiny cones. The areas beneath the trees were almost depleted of snow, and I found quite a few black walnut shells that had been nibbled on by red squirrels.
I crossed the wooden footbridge over Wildflower Brook, pausing to watch the stream bubble by. I turned to the right, making my way on a path that made me recall the last time I was in this section. We were looking for a box turtle that was known to frequent the area. I wondered how he was faring under the snow, probably snuggled in tight for the winter in an abandoned groundhog burrow.
It had been over an hour, and I decided to head up the hill through the meadow and back towards the Nature Center. Going up the hill was challenging, as this section is open and the compacted snow was melting and slick. As I finally came past the Nature Center, I took note of a table full of heart-shaped pipe cleaners that had been decorated with cereal and fruit for the birds, along with some milk cartons that had been painted and refurbished for use as bird feeders. What a pleasant and refreshing day to soothe the soul and bask in the sweet sunshine!