This is one of those weekends. I have a lot of work to do, none of it writing. The work is intellectually rigorous but repetitive, and it’s taken longer than I anticipated. I hope that at some point my life won’t be like this, a continual series of tasks. Some of them I’ve taken on voluntarily, because they’re writing projects, but most of them are not – most of them I have no choice about. I keep telling myself that this phase of my life will end, and I will have the time and freedom I’m longing for – soon.
In the meantime, I deal with the work and stress of it as best I can. Today, I dealt with it by taking a break and going to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord. I thought you might like to go on my walk with me, see the things I saw. You’ll have to imagine the sounds of birds, the smell of wetlands. (I’m posting medium-sized versions of the photos, but click on any of them to see the full-sized versions.)
The wildlife refuge consists of a forest surrounding a lake that is cut into two sections by a causeway. Here is what it looks like from the observation tower.
This is the causeway. As you walk along, you can see water, reeds, birds of various sorts on either side.
Look, cattails! You can’t see any in this picture, but birds perch on them, right at the tops. I saw a lot of red-winged blackbirds. The birdsong was continuous.
If you look carefully at the picture below, you will see a small nest. I wonder what sort of bird built it? It was so neatly made.
This is me, on a sort of pier and observatory that juts out into one of the lakes. I’m wearing glasses because I had spent the entire day working. My eyes were too tired for contact lenses. (I think I mentioned that I need a haircut?)
Wait, I think that’s a red-winged blackbird on one of the cattails! I haven’t yet put my new camera together, so I was using the old one. Therefore, no zoom. Hopefully, I’ll have time to put my new one together tonight. (There’s a card. Remember the old cameras, without cards? I have to go through the directions, figure out where the card goes.)
By the side of one of the lakes, I found these waterlily pods. It made me wonder what the lake would look like in summer, with waterlilies growing in it. Would they be white? Pink?
See, don’t they look alien? But I find that if you look closely enough, most things in nature do. For example, tree bark, especially with lichen on it. Honestly, sometimes tree bark frightens me. (Go ahead, laugh. And then look at some for a while.)
This is me again, looking more relaxed than I have in several days. Notice that even though it’s May, I’m wearing a jacket. That’s because it’s cold. What’s up with that, Massachusetts?
Once you cross the causeway, there is a path that curves around the lake. On the other side of the path is a forest that is mostly wetland. I passed these beautiful views, like scenes from a fantasy movie. You know, where magical creatures live.
Here is the path, curving around the lake. I walked all around. It wasn’t too long of a walk, only about three miles. It felt good to walk for a long time. I haven’t done that for – well, just since classes ended, actually. I’m used to walking a lot.
On my right was the lake, on my left the most beautiful views. Like this one, after I had passed the magical forest. More wetland. I love wetlands, the sheen and shimmer of water beneath trees or bushes, between tufts of grass.
I’m not sure why this yellow flower reminded me of mustard. Have I seen mustard flowers in the past, and if so, where? But there was quite a lot of it growing beside the path.
And then, more wetland, nice and boggy, with all sorts of interesting plants growing out of it.
The cattails were shedding their fluff, like cats that had not been brushed for a long time. I love cattails and would have loved to bring some home with me, just as I would have loved to bring home a waterlily pod. But you know, wildlife refuge. You can’t take stuff.
What I love even more than still water is moving water. Here the water flowed from the lake across the path. On the other side was a small waterfall feeding the wetlands.
Do you remember my first picture of the lake? Here is a view from the other side. I had walked about two miles at this point. The sky looked so large, gray and filled with low clouds.
I mentioned the yellow flowers beside the path, right? I know, this is a bit repetitive. But I loved their color. Here they are again on either side. I don’t think a gardener could have arranged it better.
I love these two pictures, of water and sky. This is your moment of Zen for the day.
The last part of the walk went through the woods. There were ferns everywhere, and small woodland flowers. I could have taken more pictures in the woods, but I thought these were enough for the day. And anyway, it was getting dark, and there were mosquitoes.
So that was it, my walk through the wildlife sanctuary. When I walk through places like these, I remember – particularly looking at the trees – how small and temporary we are, we bipedal mammals. And some days, that is an intensely reassuring thought.