Today, standing in brilliance, I was reminded why I started this project. I was reminded why I walk every day. I was reminded how fortunate I am.
The place had become a regular destination, less than a mile from my back door. Today it was wrapped in beauty. Diluted by the scent of ice, even the old, familiar, fish-like smells that emanated from the sun-baked rocks in the floodplain made me smile. Moreover, the scene sounded as lovely as it looked.
Crystallized water had anchored itself to the edges of and rocks in the Swamp Creek. It floated like continents while its liquid counterpart, in route downstream, navigated around the masses.
Fascinated by the trickling, the patterns, and the contrast between shadow and ice, I edged closer. I needed to be careful to stay — by memory – on land, because snow cover made it impossible to know whether the earth or a layer of ice supported my weight.
As I crouched down to snap a photo, I heard rustling. It was as if some winter mammal was feeding and stirring along the icy waters. Then, the rustle came from another spot. Then, from across the creek. Upstream. Downstream. Right in front of me.
The day’s fantastic sunshine was melting the ice, even though the air temperature held below 25 degrees. Piece by piece, the continents were growing smaller, as small chips began to crack and fall apart. Their frozen edges crunched together until they broke free and floated downstream, turning back to liquid in a matter of moments.
Along with the trickle and the rustle came the cheery bird call of a tufted titmouse. It was simply a beautiful day.
Had I not walked, I’d have missed this. Had I not climbed to the edge, I’d have never known the source of the sound. And had I not lingered to write this, I would not have just heard the startling crash of one of the ice bars — five feet in length by three feet in width — drop four inches into the water.
Someday this park will be “improved.” The public that owns it will be granted easier access to trample through it, bringing conversation and yelling and all the baggage most Americans carry. They too deserve to see this. But I’m afraid their unappreciative presence will be the demise of this serene and cherished scene.
Until then, I vow to visit every day. Enduring rain and wind will make sunny winter days like today even more magical. This is medicine for the what ails me, every time.
I’ll post because I think I should share this. Whether it inspires you to get outside or lets your mind wander from your desk, doesn’t really matter to me. Let my awareness of the natural world and my ability to shape words into sentences remind you why it is you do what YOU do, love what YOU love, and appreciate the fortunes YOU really have.