. . . enjoying the freedom that
scope eludes my grasp, that there is no
finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.
I came across these provocative lines of poetry in an old issue of Harper’s Magazine. Immediately I connected with the poet; I’ve been on that walk too, not in A. R. Ammons’s neck of the woods, but in my own little piece of Eden—North Creek Trail—which is about three miles from my suburban apartment, which is about three blocks from Interstate 5, the main concrete artery that transports people and goods between the Pacific Northwest, Canada and southern California. I am never so aware of the constant din from the perpetual ebb and flow of its trucks, buses, autos, and the occasional passel of Harley hogs as I am in its absence, whenever I walk along this Trail, shaded by old growth trees and scented with wild roses, apple blossoms, lilacs and cedar pine.
If you are a walker like I was, living in a hot desert climate where the shopping mall was your best bet for chalking up those 10,000 steps and still avoiding heatstroke, then you will understand how easily that kind of walking venue breeds boredom. On the trails here, every walk can be a new walk, a unique sensory, or even social experience.
A few weeks ago the pond at the entrance to my segment of the Trail was graced with swarms of newly emerged (I think), brilliantly colored dragonflies skimming along the surface. All along the trail, wherever a body of water provided a breeding ground, I was privy to flashes of iridescent blue; some of them following me for a bit, perhaps out of curiosity. It seems their beauty belies their ferocity as predators and the weirdness of their mating habits; surprising information that I learned from reading A Buzz in the Meadow. Intrigued by this unexpected encounter with so many of these insects in one spot, I Googled ‘dragonfly’ and found that these amazing creatures live most of their lives in the water as naiads or nymphs (from 2 months to as much as five years!) before they finally emerge as adults, shed their skins, infuse their wings with liquid, and take of flying as they were when I found them. Most adults are on the wing for just a few days or weeks before they die, but a single adult dragonfly can eat anywhere between 30 and hundreds of mosquitoes per day. Who knew? And who knows what else I will learn from my next encounter with the familiar yet wondrous world of nature on my favorite walk?