“Walking at Low Plains in April
Some day when you don’t know what to do,
where to go,
who to be,
what in the world you’re doing on this only earth,
you might just take a walk near the pond.
You might want to hear the sounds of
growing grasses, stonecrop, humming bees,
white pines dropping soft needles,
the rustling and calling of heron, duck, or grebe,
the crawl of ticks and the mad flurry of gnats.
You might want to catch the scent of skunk,
glimpse the curve of snake,
be overshadowed by the flight of hawk or eagle,
be undone by the slightest movement of your own heart.
And perhaps you’ll notice or imagine that imperceptibility
of rhythm, restlessness, readiness
that waits for you, that longs for you
to rest easy in this welcoming spaciousness,
that waits for you to find yourself, to lose yourself,
in this water, these grasses, this expectant spring air.
You may have made your way here alone,
or in the company of others who
could and will love you, and you them,
if they knew you, if you knew them,
if you caught their rhythm,
if you caught your breath,
if you did nothing at all.
You may wonder, at the pond’s very edge,
hooked by the cheerful geometry of lily pads,
what it is that swims and swishes below the surface,
what life swirls in the muck below,
below the lilies, below the water striders, below the dive of ducks and beavers.
You may consider the life that never comes to the surface
but thrives in the murky deep.
Or maybe you know already.
Maybe you’ve walked here before, in a dream,
on a day like this, and imagined it all, held it all in your hands,
and let it go, and walked on.”
(I wrote this several years ago in an April that was apparently warmer and further along than this year’s)
Two walks at the Esther Currier Wildlife Management Area at Low Plain in New Hampshire, 21 and 28 April. Even at the tail end of April, there was still a little snow/ice left in the parking lot at the entrance, plowed into a mound during the winter.
Highlights of the trips were sighting a beaver swimming …
… and finding a few adult eastern newts (Notophthalmus viridescens) …
… around and under this flooded bridge.
Fortunately, anticipating the flooding, I’d worn knee-high rubber boots.
Water from snow melt and spring rains overflowed the beaver dam as well.
Took a high-water trail detour at one point but it was a lot of bushwhacking; the high water was the lesser obstacle.
There were also some common mergansers in the pond on the second trip.
And a painted turtles on logs on the first trip.
On the overlook are red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) shrubs, which were in bud in April.
This white pine “nursery,” as I think of it, grows larger all the time. Note the muddy trail.
A few more views of the pond from different vantage points.
Finally, this mystery item, next to my boot for scale in the first photo. It was soft and strange; it didn’t strike me as definitively flora, fauna, or fungus, and yet it seemed natural, not human-made. I though perhaps it was something dead, yet I didn’t notice an odor.
The other side:
Fortunately, Mary Holland of Naturally Curious knew what it was: It’s a water lily tuber, which beavers feed on! I hope next time I come across one, I’ll remember and not call the local CSI in on the case.
Featured photo: “Newt Bridge”
This is one in a series of posts revisiting field trips taken from January to June 2019, as described here.