I took a brief hike through the woods at White Clay Creek yesterday, making my way towards Chambers Rock so I could sit on the large boulders in the middle of the creek. This is my favorite site at this park as it has a unique feel to it, almost as if I am in the middle of something ancient and sacred.
It always amazes me that this time of year is so absolutely exquisite. The sights, sounds, and scents of nature are breathtaking. As soon as I set foot on the path, the haunting perfume of blooming multi-flora rose encircled me and hung in the humid air. Even though it’s an invasive exotic plant, I couldn’t ignore its beauty and had to stop and just breathe in its sweet scent. The forest was wet from the rain overnight, and the flower perfume mixed subtly with the musky dampness of the earth below my feet.
I continued on my journey, noticing the walls of green beside me, which only a few weeks ago was still somewhat bare. Light and dark green hues colored the way, along with the occasional foliage that had almost a bluish tinge to it. Yellow buttercups hid along the edge of the trail, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of plants as I traveled. Jack-in-the-pulpit, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, mayapple, spicebush, tulip and beech trees, and a host of other flora that I didn’t stop to identify kept me company.
In addition to the colorful landscape and delightful scents, the local birds serenaded me, singing of their adventures and calling for their mates. An Eastern phoebe continuously called “phee-bee”, a wood thrush filled the air with its harmonic tin-flute sound, and chipping sparrows piped in with their mechanical-sounding chips. This is truly a time where the senses are filled with the most exquisite beauty nature has to offer!
I finally arrived at the boulders and found that with the earlier rain, there was a low-lying fog hanging just over the creek upstream. I felt like I had been transported to a magical grove in Ireland. I sat down, and just watched the fog moving, and then all of a sudden, I began to feel that I was not alone. I looked around, and laid my eyes right on a northern water snake who was sitting on a dead tree limb hanging over the water, about 8 feet away. He looked at me, wondering if he should bolt, and I sat still, trying to let him know that I wouldn’t move any closer and was just here to sit and enjoy a few moments. We both held our places and listened to the stream rolling and bubbling, watching the fog dance before us.
All of a sudden, I could see something tiny upstream moving on top of the water, getting caught up in the current, and then moving back to a safer area. I leaned forward to try and see what it was, and in the process of my haste movement, apparently scared the water snake, for I heard a loud plop and in an instant, he was in the water. He sat still, with his head just above the creek, staring at me as if I was crazy, not sure what I’d do next. I apologized for startling him, and wondered how many times that humans move in such haste, that we’re missing the things going on around us and sending things running away.
I brought my attention back upstream, and finally determined it was a mallard duckling taking a swim, but not venturing so far as to get caught up in the stronger movements of the creek. It wasn’t long before I heard a few more peeps, and saw a couple of other ducklings hanging out in a still pool and trying out their paddling skills too. I never saw the mama duck, but I’m sure she was nearby.
It was time to head back to my car, so I picked my way carefully over the rocks. As I started uphill to get back on the path, I was stopped abruptly by the stark beauty of a plant whose edges had been delicately decorated by water droplets, like glitter gel had been applied with a steady hand.
Grateful for the heartening reprieve from the craziness of May, I worked my way back through the forest, once again surrounded by the sweet floral scents and musical symphony that is ever-present at this time of year. My last stop before I reached my car was to glance at the growing meadow filled with sprouting milkweed, waist-high grasses, Queen Anne’s lace in early bloom, and a myriad of other green foliage who held the promise of brilliant summertime blossoms to come.
What a beautiful time of year to fully embrace your senses and allow yourself a few moments to rejuvenate in a way that only nature can provide! What burdens can possibly be heavy when the tune of a wood thrush carries away your cares for a bit?
Wishing you sweet scents, colorful palettes, and delicate songs to fill your days!
Love & Light,