Today I consider color. I look outside and see green trees. But all the trees are not the same green. They range in intensity from deep, almost-black green hemlocks to pale, almost-yellow green birches. Today white plume-like clouds reach across an intense blue sky. But sometimes the sky is pale blue with a splattering of gray clouds, or blue with a hint of sunrise or sunset. To say the sky is blue doesn’t quite cover it.
Today I watch our resident red squirrel raid the apple tree. She leaps along to the end of a branch much too thin to hold even her lightweight frame. The branch bends nearly to the ground, burdened not only by the apples it bears, but by the added weight of a hungry squirrel. She bites into the little green apple and tugs until the stem lets loose. Then she scampers down the squat trunk of the apple tree, across the lawn, and up to the lowest limb of our red pine.
I have to laugh. The apple she’s carrying is nearly as big as she is. Yet, she’s determined to take it home and either eat it for lunch or tuck it away for a rainy day. Suddenly Ginger, that’s what the girls named our red squirrel friend, realizes I’m spying on her. She scurries up the tree and takes a flying leap to a nearby birch. I lose her in the branches and filtered sunlight.
Today a storm rolls through, darkening the midday sky with ominous, angry-looking clouds. Thunder rumbles long and low in the distance. The wind kicks up, tugging at the branches as it passes. The pines bend and bow to the gale’s superior power. Rain pummels the parched earth, sending sandy splatters into the nearby grass. The large raindrops resound as they dive-bomb the granary’s metal roof. Lightning cuts through the curtain, followed almost immediately by a brilliant blue-white flash and an earth-shaking crack of thunder. That one was close! Nearby, splinters from the struck tree trunk litter the road.
Today the summer air is a wet blanket hanging heavy on some cosmic clothesline. I sit under a shade tree near Shadow Lake, praying for even the smallest wind wisp to cool the perspiration pooling on my forehead. I briefly consider going home, but almost immediately dismiss that thought… no air conditioning. So I try to distract myself by watching the water. (If I had extra clothes along, I’d distract myself by jumping in!)
Today I sit on a rock outcropping which overlooks an abandoned mill pond. Just where the river spills over the dam, a colony of crayfish have taken up residence in the stones cluttering the river bottom. I don’t usually make habit of watching crayfish. I prefer observing God’s “prettier” critters. But, I have to confess, they’re quite interesting little crustaceans.
Today I find a few free hours to visit my favorite place. Fortunately for them, unfortunately for me, someone beat me to my favorite spot in my favorite place. I drive through the park to my second favorite spot. Bird-watching is nearly impossible from this vantage point. However, from here I can eves-drop on the chatty river as it clamors over slabs of granite bedrock.
Today the trees cast their spring colors against a steel blue sky that promises thunderstorms somewhere to the not-too-distant south. The maples sport dainty flowers in untold shades of red, gold and muted orange. The yellow birch trees stand out in the crowd with their jaundiced bark and frosted, mint green crowns. The weeping willows are yellow-green (or is it green-yellow) with life. Only the oaks, always lagging somewhat behind, are just now realizing they’ll need to let go of those old brown leaves if they hope to wear new green ones this spring. If a stiff wind doesn’t tug them off, the new leaf sprouts will push them out of the way. All in good time… Though more subtle than the fall colors, the spring foliage brings new light and life to the dark landscape.
Today the turkeys put on a show in our big pasture. A big tom is strutting his stuff for a harem of hens that has encircled the main stage. His crimson head gradually turns blue as he fluffs his feathers and splays his tail like a fine, silk fan. The ladies look on with casual indifference, and rightly so. The tom will, as the old country song says, “love ‘em and leave ‘em alone.” The womenfolk will be busy hatching and raising chicks while the menfolk are off behaving like bachelors.
Today I walk through the woods. A bright flash in the distance catches my eye. When I go to investigate. I find a healthy shelf mushroom colony glinting in the sun. The Smokey Polypore fungus calls two lengths of a fallen maple trunk “home.”
Today bloodroot buds hover above the leaf-browned ground, tiny white tulips suspended on thin stems. They’re one of the early woodland bloomers, often growing in snowy spring drifts. I watch as they slowly open to the day’s warmth, revealing the sun-yellow anthers hidden in their petals.
Below the soil lies a little, dark bulb. This wildflower gets its name from the life juices flowing through that bulb. If it’s cut, it bleeds deep red. This red juice is valued for its many medicinal purposes. It’s used as an antiseptic, antibiotic, antioxidant and fungicide. It also has the power to clear up warts, tumors, and other skin conditions. The bloodroot’s power to combat infections and cleanse away impurities is reflected in its purest white bloom.