It's raining today, and while the rain has its own loveliness, I am overcome with sloth. Instead of planting red verbena by my doorsteps in the thready shadow of the Eremerus Bungeii, which is FINALLY setting brush-like, bristly buds and promising to bloom, I shall show you some scenes from the walk my true love and I took at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge here in Concord two Saturdays ago.
Two Saturdays ago, there was more sun, but smaller leaves. Most leaves were tiny green tufts a true "spring green" just like in the crayon box of my childhood. (Click to enlarge.)
Among the tufts of that green and the pink and white and red of new blossoms were birds as bright as jewels. (Click to enlarge.)
The first we saw once inside the refuge, which is known for its bird populations, was this orange bird (which another enthusiast confidently informed us was a Baltimore Oriole). I couldn't quite find him on the tiny view screen of my camera. It is relatively new, a Christmas present from my true love (which I completely forgot how to use while having a brain tumor, incidentally). Almost all the photos on this blog posted between Christmas 2007 and now were taken using it, but this one had to be shot by my true love because I just couldn't figure out how to find the tiny bird so high above our heads.
"I'd love to try," he told me, having left his own camera at home.
"Please go ahead!"
And he shot this beautiful bird four lovely times, this being my favorite. Ever since I saw a photo over at esteemed correspondent Leslee's place awhile back, I have been thinking about images like this one, images that give me insight into what the great fabric designers and porcelain painters of ancient Asia were thinking when they invented some of their patterns. I've been pondering, not the way life imitates art, but the way art has helped me see life, specifically nature, all my life long. What would this look like to me if I'd never seen a decorated vase or ginger jar, or a beautifully embroidered floral brocade?
It would probably look more like this crop:
That's all I would see. Or perhaps I would merely think that this was the only "good" part of that previous shot and all the others in the series. And it's perfectly lovely, too, of course. But there is more to see, and there is more than one way to see all the same stuff, and that is the delight and the gift of other artists' work, and of the whole millennia-old legacy of art.
In the national wildlife preserve we did indeed see wildlife. After the Oriole, I was stopped by the beauty of this snake, which another person with a camera told me was an Eastern Water Snake, or a Northeastern Water Snake; I can't remember which. (I wasn't taking notes, alas.)
I do remember that the man and his wife assured me that this was a male snake, as the females I usually see are much larger and blacker.
So many birds! There was yet another man with an expensive camera rig attempting with no success to capture one of the stunningly graphic Redwing Blackbirds in the act of flying. He became increasingly frustrated with every miss. It was almost as though the birds were taunting him. He cursed, but persevered.
One posed for me among the cattails --
-- but here is the only wing action I was able to record of any species (and I'm not even sure which species it is, just that it's some kind of corvid):
Beyond the grasses where the snake made his home (click to enlarge),
there was the view (Click to enlarge.) --
-- and beyond that view another, where sunlight filled breeze-rippled open water with glittering dancers gone if you blinked, back before you could blink again, thousands of them, all made of the light itself. (Click to enlarge.)
The view closer in held less of the sparkle,
more of the shine.
Really cute shine.
We wandered idly down the land bridge between the two main ponds. (Incidentally, we think this path, and at least the two broad, flat ones into which it splits may be wheelchair accessible. But if you power your own, wear gloves because the path is gravely, sandy dirt, likely to throw myriad tiny but potentially wounding projectiles into your hand flesh.)
All along the paths, benches are placed strategically. At the "top" of the T where the path splits, there is a bench to the right, and there is also a bench farther up, near the river. This is where we will land when we canoe here for a picnic some day this summer. (Click to enlarge.)
Perhaps we shall dine among the roots immediately southwest of this bench. (Click to enlarge.)
Perhaps we shall dine across the river.
Perhaps we shall make merry to the east of this bench, dining where this bright little bird dined, maybe leaving crumbs for him and his family and others to enjoy after we have left.
Perhaps we shall tie up the canoe and take a stroll down the gravelly, sandy path between the ponds. (Click to enlarge.)
Maybe we'll even remember to bring binoculars (for once), not just a single digital camera with a zoom lens.
And we will return. When we return, the tree flowers will be gone, and the leaves will no longer look like a subject for fine embroidery or a painting on an ancient vase. (Click to enlarge.)
There will be other stories when we return, stories sleeping now in the earth and in the green, or that have only just been born --
-- two weeks ago today.