For about Forty-Five days we have experienced temperatures exceeding 105 degrees in Hot Springs, Arkansas (usually mid to upper 80s by 6am). This morning I woke up and discovered it was only 68 degrees, I was out the door and hiking in an hour.
This morning I did not break into a sweat simply by stepping out the door, a delightful surprise. A lovely cool breeze caressed my face and the air had a sweet green aroma as I headed toward North Mountain. The sun still had not crested the tree tops when I spotted glorious pinkish orange Trumpet Creepers glowing in the early morning light. As I photographed them a large Bumble Bee arrived to pollinate the large bell of each bloom.
Since a violent storm blasted through Hot Springs National Park three nights ago (will blog about this on another day) birds appear to have become silent. As I hiked up the Floral Trail the silence of the park was broken by someone playing a flute, it was odd hearing Scarborough Fair as I moved through the Forest. A silent tiny Vireo peeked out from the leaves apparently as confused as I was by the flautist providing a Simon and Garfunkel serenade.
Climbing higher on North Mountain I spotted a colorful Male Box Turtle trying to navigate a climb of his own. The unpredictable twigs and leaves made his journey up the bank a difficult maneuver. I stopped to marvel at his perseverance. At the top of the Goat Rock Trail the unrelenting heat of the past month has toasted the leaves giving the Forest a false autumn appearance. Green has given way to rust and gold, the path before me is coated with crunchy dried leaves. With each breeze yellowing leaves spin free from the branches above and twirl falling silently to the ground. The Prickly Pear Cacti along the trail edges are shriveled and wrinkled unable to find shelter as the foliage has receded.
As I headed home another Box Turtle in crossing on a lower trail, her shell is chipped and battered. She has lost some of her armor and exposed is a fragile white under layer. Both Turtles had white markings around there mouths and I wonder if it is caused by the extreme heat. I watch to make sure she does not get stepped on as she completes her crossing of the trail.
Dance lightly upon this Earth, we need to protect it for those who do not have a voice.
Love to ALL!