Maybe because we’ve waited so long for spring this year, or maybe its just that these wonders are more precious with each passing year, but surely the delicate beauty of the huckleberry buds opening has never been quite so breathtakingly beautiful to me.
The colours are muted and soft along the Heritage Forest Road, and the ground is rock hard, frozen solid. It may look like there’s little life in the landscape, that it everything is ‘dead’. Dull. How far from the truth!
As we walked the road what struck me was how many signals there were that even in the quiet stillness of winter, and its apparent barrenness, there is a pulsing vitality to the season: the creeks burble beneath a skim of ice, lichens hang conspicuously from limbs all round, colourful slime molds are ‘there’ for the observant eye as are various fascinating fungi; winter birds— wrens, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees and towhees flit amongst the low shrubs while the finches and others occupy the higher branches; the deer meander and graze undisturbed. Surely the forest pulses with life as much in winter as any season.
I wonder if maybe the forest and its creatures enjoy the relative quiet. Maybe its their ‘sabbath’.
During my school days, our Headmistress would often urge us to notice what’s around us saying, ‘Even the thorn bush by the wayside is ablaze with the glory of God.’ I’ve come to appreciate over the years that she was absolutely right.
Today I was reminded of this as I saw, not a ‘thorn bush’ but an ordinary drainage ditch, ‘blazing’ with beauty: colour, texture and pattern.
I have intentionally adjusted the photo above with texture and colour as I contemplated the beauty on display. The red colours in the weeds to the right were actually there, and brighter. I’ve muted them so as not to ‘take over’ the image as a whole. It’s the raindrop circles that particularly entranced me— the way they refracted and reflected the light.
Finlay Lake Conservation Area – Click on image for a larger view
We’d wanted to walk in to Finlay Lake for a while, so with the sun shining brilliantly, it seemed a good day to set out for this quiet spot.
The path leading through the forest was bursting with spring shoots, and the birds were singing in the canopy above us, and the winter wrens and towhees rustling in the ferns and salal.
When the path opened to the lake there were a few Buffleheads on the far side, but otherwise all was still. Occasionally a raven’s call echoed through the trees, and an eagle flew past. Otherwise, simply stillness— but a stillness that is burgeoning with life.
My daily walks up the road are always a pleasure. Well, mostly always. Sometimes, if its just plummeting rain, my pleasure is dampened (so to speak). But today it was a real pleasure, as the leaves dappled the road, and the sun was still slanting through the trees, even if weakened by the light overcast.
In places, like the spot in the photo, there was a little light on the road, which struck me as this morning as a fine metaphor of how life works— a little light here and there. Not alway blazing brilliant light, but light all the same. And then the road curves in to the shadier spots.
The patches of light are exquisite— I love and appreciate them— their clear colour and beauty, but even in the shadier spots there are marvelous things to see: moss and mushrooms, lichens, winter wrens chattering and woodpeckers flitting. These treasures were certainly present today and interestingly, they were for the most part, in the darker, less glorious places.
Spending a few days in ‘town’ offers a chance to walk the paths along Mosquito Creek. The delight of these walks comes not only from the beauty alongside the tumbling creek-water, but the poignancy of recognizing these are likely last days before the green leaves the trees (so to speak). The sunlight shining through the still vibrant green is more precious perhaps because these days are so limited. But its not only the colour and light. For me its also their shadow patterns on the path — constantly shifting, and intriguing.
The photo above is one of my favourite points on the trail where it diverges around a grand moss-clothed maple. To the left it goes down to the creek itself. To the right, up to the road. The main trail is straight ahead, past the maple, following alongside the creek.
glimpses of the extraordinary amidst an ordinary day