Thursday, May 1, 2008

Two Mornings in the Arb

The Arboretum Trail Head and Bur Oak

Hillside Prairie after Tuesday's burn.

Wednesday, April 30
. Each morning has a character of its own. The woods this morning are full of yellow-rumped warblers. On the far side of the river, a large fish keeps leaping out of the water, exposing a pale yellow underside. Further along, a coot rests in the grass at the water's edge. A great blue heron unfolds its wings and flies upriver with surprising grace, so large that its shadow swims in the river beneath it. Near Turtle Pond, half a dozen blue jays complain of my approach. The birds are so blue—80 proof distillation of sky. A garter snake is sunning itself on the path. On Turtle Pond itself, eight blue-winged teal. Hillside Prairie, burned on Tuesday afternoon, is black.

Trout Lilies blooming in the woods.

Thursday, May 1
. A cooler, cloudier morning than yesterday. Along the river, I catch a few fleeting glimpses of the elusive brown thrasher, a flash of distinctive cinnamon brown. House wrens twitter in the woods. Another flash of lighter brown: a thrush (possibly a veery). At the edge of the blackened prairie, a meadow vole darts from one hole to the next. Each morning, the trout lilies are further advanced in their blooming. And what are those small greenish birds that seem, at a distance, to be no bigger than my thumb? Ruby-crowned kinglets? A mere inference of bird, the least green vibration of the highest branch.

3 comments:

Chris said...

Beautiful. Great shots, Rob!

Christopher Tassava said...

1. That bur oak is my new on-campus favorite. Doesn't it seem like a tree with that much character - not to mention that many decades in its trunk - ought to have a name? I think someone (you, me, etc.) oughta name the oaks, the way redwoods are named.

2. You say you haven't written a poem in a long time, but the May Day entry seems an awful lot like an awfully good poem.

Rob Hardy said...

Christopher: That bur oak is the one I saved from the chainsaw in 1997, when Carleton planned to build the rec center on that site. I gave a speech about that tree at a forum in Skinner Chapel (and got my first and only standing ovation), and the college decided to move the rec center a little to the north in order to save the tree. So, yeah, I'm quite fond of it!

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