Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring on a Gravel Road

Around the corner from us is the Thorny Acres Arboretum. It is a huge tract of land owned by a retired doctor couple. They have lovingly cared for the land, planting trees, cultivating environmentally sensitive areas, repairing the fence, providing a relatively safe place for deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, birds, critters and native plant species. They wouldn't let anyone in to walk at all- I asked some years ago- and I've always respected that, though the existence of a fence, a huge piece of land and a NO TRESPASSING sign on the gate have been tempting.

This morning it was frosty cold and the north wind was biting, but the sun was out and the sky was that magical, spotless, clear blue. The sun was just up over the horizon and the air was filled with the spring calls and sounds of thousands of birds. The Gravel Road is a noisy place!

The night world of animals is quite hidden, unless you're out and about at night. Raccoons, I'm assuming, had tipped over the plastic garbage can on wheels, opened the lid and gotten their midnight snack (lock the lid) and all the sunflower seeds were neatly cleaned up from the pieces of wood I'd spread them out from. If it were birds, the shells would still be there. These surfaces were lickety split clean.

At the Arboretum, there are more tell tale critter signs. A winding, narrow swath of dirt brown grass is flattened leading from the 'inside' of the fence to the outside. Dozens of raccoon tracks are frozen in the roadside gravel. Along the road, in the areas that get squishy on spring days, deer tracks. Very lightly impressed into the mud... wild turkey footprints. Places in the fence where the deer can jump over the barbs safely, the wire bent down. A hole through matted grass where the raccoons can get in and out of the arboretum.

I have neither camera nor plaster of Paris with which to record these. But I find it a simple wondrous joy to be aware of these things.

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