It is the first morning in a while that I could see the Mountain clearly, no rain and no fog. A perfect hiking day mild temperatures and patchy skies. As I enter the park I notice the fragrant air does not feel as heavy, it makes breathing much easier. Even though the humidity is lower the pollen count is high and the city is covered in it’s yellow dust. I feel blessed, for the first time in my life I am not suffering from allergies including those related to pollen.
At the beginning of the The Tufa Terrace is a delightful cluster of Fungi. Little gray and brown umbrellas nestled around an old stump. Spectacular new Wild Roses are appearing every day along the terrace, their beauty a perfect start to my morning. I hear a noise above and look up to see a yellow and white Fixed Wing Single-Engine 1969 CESSNA flying over the park. The sky is a perfect Arkansas Blue, the view from above must be amazing.
As I connect with the Carriage Road I hear this odd bird call, it sounds like a screeching cat. When I stop to listen more carefully it switches to a series of tones similar to a Northern Mocking Bird. As I head up the Dead Chief Trail I see a male Cardinal and a dark unknown bird. The male Cardinal is doing his best impression of a crooner singing to the rising morning sun. Suddenly the dark bird (I learn later is a Gray Catbird) sings and I know now this is the bird I have been hearing the past week along the Carriage Road.
When I reach the Short Cut Trail I can hear another male Cardinal and spot him in a Tree up ahead. Although not coming close he does stay visible, moving so I can clearly see him. Movement below and his motives are revealed, a female Cardinal is gathering leaves in her beak for nesting. The male has been acting as a decoy until she can get safely back to their nest.
I hike across the mountain top over to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. Lovely Wild Roses are appearing along the trail in two glorious shades of pink. The green of the trail is lush, its color reflects on everything along the path. There are times in the forest I feel as if I am being followed, this was one of those moments. It has been so quiet and I cannot immediately locate my companion in the Trees. A flicker in the leaves, a large Blue Jay is moving slowly along the path. Usually the Blue Jays are noisy warning the Forest of my presence, today I am being quietly observed. The dense green leaf cover has given it perfect camouflage. I am thankful to have this guide moving through the Forest with me.
When I reach the Honeysuckle Trail I decide to head over to “The Wedding Chapel”, to sit and listen to the birds. For the first time I decide to take photos from the inside. Looking at the rock pillar in the back corner I start to giggle, I never realized it looks like a Tiki totem. This is the perfect place to sit for a moment, close my eyes and soak in the beautiful song of the Forest. Later as I slowly open my eyes I see a lovely Black Swallowtail Butterfly gliding along on a delicate breeze.
I count my blessings as I head down the Floral Trail, it is glorious in the Forest this morning. When I reach the Fountain Street Wall at the Fountain Trail I see a Squirrel foraging in the clover and another in a Tree. Two male Robins are battling over territory as a female gathers nesting materials below. I turn to see I have been noticed, a squirrel is walking along the wall right toward me, I have been made.
On the promenade the the birds are singing and in the Trees I can hear the chirping of babies waiting for food. Above me a Northern Mockingbird land on the Light post above me. It twists it’s head and looks at me with a single eye, then flies over to a nearby Berry Tree. From there it lands on the fence that boarders the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Hospital, below a baby waits for a feeding. Two House Sparrows sit watching between the spears of the fence. A sweet female House Sparrow lands on the fence to my right with a blade of glass in her beak.
At the entrance I stop to take a deep breath filling my senses with the sweet perfume of Magnolias. Thank You for following me through the Park today, I Love knowing you are there.
In Nature we are cradled in the infinite beauty of the Universe.
Love to You ALL!