A Special THANK YOU to the jogger who saw I was photographing a bird and stopped so I could get the shots. I am extremely grateful for your thoughtful and considerate gesture.
Field Notes January 21 2011:
I open my blog today with a story of an extended paw of friendship. Many of my regular readers will be aware that For nearly a year I have been documenting the activities of what appears to be a feral cat in the park. This beautiful cat seems to live on the neighboring hospital grounds and hunts in the park. This is not a good situation for the cat or the wildlife. Today something was different, instead of keeping the fence between us it came over to see what I was doing. After several minutes of exchanging meows and taking photographs this beautiful creature walked along a ledge and placed it’s nose on my camera hood. Using my lens as a mirror it could be the first time it has seen its reflection. It lead me part way up the path then passed through a gap in the fence and back to the hospital grounds. This sweet lonely creature needs a better home.
As I near the top of the Dead Chief Trail I hear a tapping sound in a Tree ahead of me. I look up and see a beautiful Male Downy Woodpecker hanging on to a small Branch. Usually I only see these industrious birds on the side of large Trees, this is a wonderful view. From this new perspective I can see how they use their feet to grasp and their tail feathers for balance. I am blessed to have a very patient teacher, Nature.
Along the top Hot Springs Mountain the air has a bite and it stings my face as I hike along the trail. The cold air seems to magnify the beauty of the Forest and you can hear even the distant Bird songs clearly. Hiking on the Hot Springs mountain Trail the sound of tapping and pipping is becoming louder. It is as if the source of sound and myself are each moving toward each other. As I pass the ravine I see a small brown flecked Bird hopping up a Tree and pecking. As first it’s size and color make me think it is a large Brown Creeper. As I get closer the truth is revealed, it is a small juvenile male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. It makes me wonder how I missed seeing all these amazing woodpeckers when I was hiking last year. I have clearly been changed by this year of hiking in the Mountains of Hot Springs National Park.
I am surprised to see so many dead and dying pines as I hike down the Gulpha Gorge Trail. It is a field of rust where once green stood, is this the damage from last winter or something new? On the Goat Rock Trail the spring Bird-Foot Violets are still blooming, but the last snow and freeze has battered the fragile blooms. The cold snow and freezing air transformed their once velvet petals to sheer translucent veils. The storms could only change not destroy their fragile beauty. The upper Goat Rock Trail on North Mountain has become a silvery Forest, and I find myself thinking it is a twin to sunset trail atop West Mountain. As always thank you dear friends for joining me as I travel into the Mountains.
Thank You for all the lovely prayers for my Husband Rick these past several weeks. His kidney stones are passing and he is on the mend, your lovely messages have kept us strong throughout his medical care and healing.