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A storm is brewing within the park as I head out to hike this morning. A flowering Bush on the Arlington Lawn is the focus of a swarm of Moths seeking an early breakfast and they move rapidly from blossom to blossom in a delicate dance. It is not long before they fly off to find more sweet nectar elsewhere. The sky begins to change rapidly from dark to light and wildlife is for the most part vanishes. Who can blame them with rumblings of Thunder far off on distant ridge tops. As I hike up Hot Springs Mountain only a Male Cardinal pops it’s beak out for a quick song before flying deep into the Forest. He is a spectacular sight, he rich red against the lush green is always a beautiful sight.
When I reach the top the skies are darkening so I head straight to the Pagoda to seek a bit of shelter. A sweet Black-Capped Chickadee is pipping loudly in a Tree nearby. As I look over the valley I can see the edge of the Zig Zag Range in the Ouachita Mountains bathed in a light mist. I am not sure why I look up, but I am so happy that I do. Above me is a lovely pair of Walking Sticks embracing in a mating ritual. Gracefully they entwine in Nature’s divine dance, in a perfectly chosen place sheltered from the incoming storm.
Dark skies but no rain I decide I should continue my journey through the Forest. My hike along the Hot Springs Mountain Trail is peaceful and humorous. I watch as two squirrels scare each other sending one running frantically down the trail at lightning speed. When they both shot around the same Tree I though I heard them scream out in surprise. Moths seem to be out in force today and a lovely brown one is flitting across the grass and clover. Further ahead tiny little white flowers have burst open in clusters decorating the trail edges.
When I reach the Upper and Lower Dogwood Trail fork I can see beautiful Callicarpa bushes decorated with lovely purple berries. They are prolific popping up from under logs and within the cracks of large Rock formations. Along the Lower Dogwood Trail I am escorted by a Robin who is keeping a watchful eye on me. I must look suspicious earing my wide brim hat. On the final bend of the Floral Trail a rapidly moving baby snake (black) winds it’s way through the dry leaves on the edge of the trail. These baby snakes are everywhere and so fast.
As I head home I stop at the Hot Springs National Park Fountain and the area is an insect paradise. A wonderful Walking Stick is perched on the side of a garbage receptacle basking in the sun. Brown moths are resting on my hair, arms and shoulders as I try to photograph one on the retaining wall. Soon we are joined by beautiful Red Spotted Purple Butterflies, it appears everyone stops here for the mineral water.
Make friends with Nature :o)