I try my best to make it outside at least once a week – an hour or more spent in the fresh air does amazing things for my overall well-being. However, I inevitably will get caught up in work and life and will get trapped indoors for a few weeks, as I have this past month. I feel a sense of mourning for the missed opportunities – the animals I didn’t get to spot, the sunrises that came and went without me. One step into the dewy grass, though, and I’ve forgotten about every moment missed because nature never runs out, and there are an infinite number of new things to experience.
This morning I knew I would regret it if I didn’t take at least a little walk. I was up before dawn with the main reason for my lapse in outdoor activity – the new baby kitten who was pouncing my face and chomping my fingers. As soon as he was worn out and the sky was bright enough I grabbed my camera and scrambled out the front door.
Walk: 55°F | 8-10AM | 2 miles | Bothell, WA
The day was in stark contrast to the last walk I took in September. The air was calm, a thin fog rose over the wetland, a light drizzle was falling. The grasses were golden, matted down from this weekend’s rain, the landscape much more open and flat. The marsh smelled like rain, wood, peat. The sounds of songbirds and the breeze were replaced with drops falling in ponds and ducks dabbling in the background. The kind of day that makes you think you might actually want a pumpkin spice latte (but you don’t, because: ew).
I was on a mission, stomping along, hurrying to get to my favorite spots to see what was new. I forgot that I was the first person out this morning, and only slowed down when I startled a few Wilson’s snipe that were feeding in the standing water along the path. Oh right, you can’t actually see the animals when you plow along the trail like a bear…
Impatience is a regular thing for me. My walking experience could best be summed up in the enjoyment of the present and the anticipation of the future.
I’m enjoying the change in animal life that comes with the new season. This northern shrike caught me by surprise, and crossed another bird off my list.
With the leaves off the trees and the cattails dying back there is so much more exposed. I love the discovery of a nest that has been there all summer, out of sight, but now revealed. I also am happy that a few inaccessible ponds are becoming visible again, and am anxious for the reeds to flop down further and give me a better view.
I’m aware that I ought to appreciate the carpet of lush green that still covers every inch of the ground because by the time next spring arrives I will find myself shocked and grateful for every tiny shoot I see coming out of the thawing mud.
Then, there are the things I know are coming that I’ll be waiting and watching for. This flooded field has been full of mallards and green-winged teal, but soon the Canada geese will camp out here, and after that there will be an unbelievable amount of crows which will then leave at dusk every day in massive clouds to fly to their riverside nests a few miles away.
I have seen the red-tailed hawks and northern harriers back in our little swamp this month, but I’m still waiting on the return of the bald eagles which nest in this tree every year (can you spot the nest? It’s on the left side about halfway down). Two years ago we saw the parents and young eagle every day; last year there were 3 adults and one juvenile. It may be another month or two before we see them again.
This lovely morning was just what I needed. I feel like I’ve caught up with an old friend. Now begins the season when I need the time spent outdoors the most, but have the hardest time making it happen. By November I’ll be leaving for work and coming home in the dark, and my weekends will feel more precious and rushed as the holidays loom. If I can just steal a few hours a week, like today, I’ll be okay.
Areas visited: My neighborhood trails
Species observed: Mallard and Mallard-domestic hybrid, Green-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Wilson’s Snipe, Northern Shrike, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Gray Squirrel.