I have completed 1 year without a vehicle, it was NOT easy and at times down right frustrating. However, I did prove it could be done and that perhaps I did not need to drive as much as I had in previous years. I walked to the post office, bank, local stores etc. all of my own choosing. Great for the planet and great for my health, a win win. This said I will enjoy being able to drive to and hike in some of the many nearby state parks in Arkansas that were further afield than walking would allow. This was a personal journey of learning about my carbon footprint. My Husband Rick was always available to give me a ride to the grocery store for our larger shopping expeditions and trips that we took further afield in the city. This was a personal challenge for me, especially since I Love to drive. My lesson is to be more thoughtful about how much and where I drive.
Morning began with a lovely hike up and back down West Mountain via the Oak Trail. My first treat was watching a sweet sparrow as it flitted up and down a weave of vines and leaves. It was singing a sweet song as it peeked out from leaves casting a shy glance. It was the perfect start to peaceful hike. Up the top of West Mountain always reminds me of the Goat Rock Trail on North Mountain or vice versa. The bare Trees and rocks cast a silver light along the Sunset Trail. I stop to sit in the ruins where once stood a rest hut that at one time was not unlike the one I was married in on Hot Springs Mountain. The sky is a perfect Hot Spring blue and the sun warms my face as I tip back a protein drink.
As I head back down the Mountain I hear a familiar winged sound as a flash of beige lands on a branch near the bottom of the West Mountain Trail. A juvenile Mourning Dove sits staring at me from its perch. Even as I inch closer it does not move but instead it puffs up its chest. In the winter light the lovely Mourning Dove and Forest are bathed in golden glow. It’s sweet demeanor is a blessed sight. As I near the middle of the Oak Trail I can hear a sweet song so I scan the Trees to my right. A flash of green leads me to a tiny Orange Crowned Warbler. Last winter they were always just out of range but now they appear to be along every trail. I am thankful for my new camera and lens, it has allowed me to see so many beautiful creatures.
I decided to visit Ricks Pond which is on the old Fordyce Estate located within Hot Springs National Park. The last time I had been here was summer, the greenery was lush and the pond was teaming with life. Now the Trees are bare and there is a silvery glow around the edges of the water. This time it appeared I was alone as I stepped upon the stone bridge. A loud rattling call rang out across the march and off in the distance I saw a large blue-gray and white bird fly up into a Tree. At first I thought the colors indicated a Blue Jay, but the marking and body shape seemed different. Even though it was well out of range for a clear shot with my 400mm lens I shot several photographs. As I tried to creep closer it would fly just a bit further away, not completely out of sight but to far for me to identify. To my delight when I returned home I was able to see my welcoming committee had been a young male Belted Kingfisher. I Love making new friends in the park.
The water reveals it own beauty, once green aquatic plants have turned gold with a vibrant red center. Autumns leaves float just below the surface of the pond in dreamlike imagery. The last of the rust leaves dangle and reflect just above the murky edges of now filled with the autumn debris.