American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
June 17, 2008
ANOTHER PILGRIM, ANOTHER CREEK
WARWICK, N. Y. -- Sometimes circumstances come together to create an unforgettable moment - one that leads directly to seeing clearly for the first time what's been going on around us all along. Just as I've seen microscopic beings up close through the powerful lenses that make that possible, so also have I now seen the awakening of Summer during these last few weeks of late Spring.
I'm in New York, not the city this time, but 50 miles west of the Great White Way. It's isolated here, but I am far from desolate as I enjoy the comfort of my daughter's redwood house and the company of her beautiful collie dog, Sonny. I don't think I could have adequately described peace until I walked through a day totally absent of mayhem.
So, this is what is meant by peaceful! An added plus is not having cell phone access. My first reaction was, "What am I going to do?" I did have online access for emergencies, but rarely turned to it. There is a huge satellite television set with channels galore but I rarely turned to that, either.
My entertainment was looking through my window on the world: 10 feet wide and six feet high, neither cumbersome blinds nor curtains, obscured my view of the vista before my eyes. I look down a hill of Spring lawn, across a seldom-traveled narrow road, unencumbered by bushes and trees, a driveway to the right and the woods on the left.
Directly across the road is a carpet of low foliage and Spring blossoms that the world calls weeds but I call dandelions and buttercups. Spindly trees rise up now and will grow to full height by mid-Summer. They appear to be oak, pines and maple trees. In summertime here, maple trees have leaves as large as dinner plates, according to what I've heard, but now they are still in the late Spring mode.
This is my first Spring here. I've been here in Summer but in Summer I come for the cool brisk air and this Spring forest in front of me is by then a wall of green. I've come in the Fall with a view toward enjoying the colorful Fall foliage - and, believe me, it is spectacular. But now, with early morning sun brightening the forest and allowing me to see paths, scurrying rodents and flying birds, it's a whole new landscape with promises of a closer look at life. I've never before been one to enter forests with a sense of adventure.
Today, I did. Sonny and I walked down the driveway, each on one end of an expandable leash, and felt the sun on our backs as we anxiously pulled the other toward our own way of thinking.
I expected to see apple trees among the other saplings but none were growing there. In this small city close to seven-miles long Greenwood Lake, which crosses the New York-New Jersey border, there is an orchard with 200,000 apple trees, and apples ripening for plucking in the Fall. I've heard from my New York City friends that piling their kids into the SUV is an autumn adventure and guarantees apples for bobbing on Halloween and apple pie for Thanksgiving.
I wasn't so foolhardy as to amble through the woods with head turned toward bird watching; no, I kept my eyes on each step I took and that was one after the other. When Sonny and I walked down the driveway we saw it had been showered with caterpillars. This was a rite of Spring, I'm sure, but not a pretty sight.
I peered around trunks of trees before venturing further and heightened my awareness as I tried to identify sounds. There were bird songs from high up in the branches of aging trees coming back and frog-speech near the edge of a narrow trickling of water. It was neither a creek nor a stream.
It could have been either, but perhaps one now clogged from an surfeit of falling leaves as Summer gave way to autumn last year. The frogs sounded just like the imitation I taught my children decades ago: "readit 'n' eatit." We would start off slowly: "read it and eat it." Then with a guttural turn to our voices, "readit'n'eatit" would be perfect.
On this morning, the birds provided a chorus of song. Only the bobwhite was true to his calling. The others were not always on pitch and more often than not, their voices were a screech rather than a melodious whistle. The blue jays were scrappy and fighting for worms. There is no confusion between a blue jay and a bluebird.
I would pause to listen and Sonny would cock his head as if to say, "What, what, you never heard a bird before?"
We backed out of the "forest primeval," not wanting to turn our backs to the deepening woods where I was certain a big bear could be lurking behind a tree. My daughter had seen one foraging around her garbage pail some months ago. I couldn't remember if you're supposed to freeze in place, turn and run, scream, or grab a stick. Or, perhaps, all of the above.
No, Sonny and I held onto each end of the leash, making haste to cross the road, get into the house, and sit in front of our window on the world where we can see out and nothing can see in.