I titled my blog with an air of hope that the weather forecasters are correct (listening to Valley Winter Song on my head phones while I type). I believe saying/typing can make it real, I am sending a not so subtle message to the Universe for snow!
Field Notes January 08 2011:
It is amazing to stare up into a perfect blue sky and realize tomorrow or the next day at this same location I might be hiking through a cloud of white :) Heading into the park I hear an interesting bird conversation. I follow the sound and discover a sparrow conversing with a Male Cardinal. The Male cardinal is throwing leaves about looking for seeds as the Sparrow looks on providing intermittent commentary.
As I move up into the park on what appears to be a perfect spring day in winter the park is surprisingly quiet. Those creatures visible however are very busy and likely preparing for the incoming storm. Along the upper part of the Tufa Terrace a sweet honeysuckle fragrance leads me to a bush covered in cream flowers. Honey Bees are flying from flower to flower gathering the pollen from within the elongate bells. The floral perfume is intoxicating and as I close my eyes feeling the sun caress my face it is hard to believe it is winter.
On the Short Cut Trail a grasshopper is climbing up a branch, the low winter sun causing it to glow. It is beautiful as it moves gracefully hand over hand higher into the Tree. Further along I hear tapping and lively pipping sounds. A male Downy Woodpecker is moving from Tree to Tree looking for it’s morning feast. I admire the industrious spirit of these tiny birds and feel blessed to see them when I am hiking.
When I reach the Hot Springs Mountain Trail the Trees in the picnic area are silent. I scan the tops and trunks but there is no movement. Reaching the half way point on the east side of the Mountain I arrived in time to see a mixed flock of small birds flying rapidly through the Trees. They are so fast I can only spot a Black-Capped Chickadee and a Nuthatch. A few minutes later pecking and a cackling bird call lead my eye to a far off Tree. In a large V of pale branches a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker it seeking nourishment.
Heading home I spot a pretty American Finch flying from limb to limb in a Short Leaf Pine. Its delicate maneuvers fills my heart with a joy that carries me through the forest to the bottom of the Floral Trail. Communing with Nature is a privilege I never take for granted, a blessing not as easily available to many who read my blog entries. Thank you for traveling with me on the trails of the Mountains and Forests in Arkansas. I appreciate your blog comments, even if we don’t always agree. Special thanks to those who kindly assist me in identifying the many birds and wildflowers, your help is a kindness beyond mere words.
PS: To those who contacted me with concerns that I had not posted lately… My beloved husband Rick has been in the hospital off and on the past week for a now discovered large kidney stone that halted his left kidney function. He currently has a kidney stent and will have lithroscopy to break up the stone this week.
PPS: Update: It is snowing!