Don't you just love the pre-dawn picture? Doesn't it project the cleanest, purest image of nature at its finest? I love to walk at this time of day, as life is awakening and little is spoken between the creatures of early morning. You can hear for miles... because the world is still asleep, her hustle and bustle beginning well after the sun peeks over the horizon, to warm the fields and forest sometime later. You can hear some cows, almost a mile down the road, as they obviously moo and call to one another; sounding as if they are standing directly in front of you. It's amazing how crisp and clear sound travels in the purity of pre-dawn.
I remember years past, as Vick and I ambled across the road, during the early morning solitude...such as this, visiting our neighbors frozen pond... looking at the ice crystals which had bridged between weeds and grasses during the night, all around the frozen perimeter of the pond. The cat tails appeared as pole lights with their frosted bulbs at the top, just waiting for the sun to turn on a brilliant display to natures rainbow in colors of glistening ice crystals. As we walked further, to the forest trail beyond the yard, we entered the woods and the dwelling place of larger animals which seldom enter the open yard, except under cover of darkness. They can access the large lake which feeds our neighbors little pond by day, unobserved and affording greater safety. It is here we can observe the now vacant blue heron's nest, high in the top of a scraggly dead tree, directly in the middle of the lake. Here the heron built a large stick nest, which we thought to be an eagle's nest when we first saw it. Later when we observed the heron in it, we knew we were mistaken. One summer, Tony our neighbor, was mowing his grass and drove the riding mower too close to the end of the yard where momma heron became uneasy with her young brood so close, and dive bombed Tony, knocking him from the mower and lacerating his forearm. Tony never saw what hit him until he got up from the ground, saw the bird returning for another blow, which he this time, deflected and escaped to the house, leaving the mower running off into the woods, where it bumped into a tree, stalling... Tony thought at first he would need to go to the hospital to get stitches to close the wound, but he got the bleeding stopped. He later retrieved the mower, in the evening, under the cover of darkness.
As Vick and I moved on, we wandered back the trail, toward the back side of the lake, where it bends around to meet the neighbor on the far side. Back there we crossed a frozen feeder stream and found where the deer hunters wait in their tree stands in the autumn hunting season. Very little hunting took place here this past fall. Almost all the property is posted as Private Property, so the only hunters present, are the actual owners and family, but very few if any hunted this year. Vick and I were happy that our daily visitors including squirrel, rabbits, deer and doves weren't bothered too much by hunters, especially since they all must be on their toes daily, with the large packs of coyotes running freely all over the neighboring woodlands. Every evening, we hear them baying madly, as they hunt down some poor unfortunate animal.
Onward we trekked, around the edge of the pond, looking for tracks in the snow, tattling on the animals that made them...giving away their presence during past hours. We longed for the summer warmth to thaw the lake again so we could see ducks, geese and the resident beavers plodding along, taking care of their daily life's work... seeing the native fish splashing as they chase crayfish and minnows. Rarely would we be afforded the sights of all this where we now stand, for in the summer, this area is so overgrown with briars, brush and weeds that you cannot even approach this area, let alone see what dwells here. It was then that we reached a consensus to return to the warmth of home, for our toes and fingers were stinging from the cold. Even still, as we returned around the edge of the pond on our return trip, we saw lovely winter sights along the trail......missed as we came through, watching the pond off to our left. Having seen it in its entirety, we were now concentrating on those things before us on the trail, or off into the distant woods beyond. Only when you tune out the most obvious of surroundings, do you begin to see the things beyond...such as the few, but distinct, drifting crystals of snow or frost, as they glimmer and shine in changing colors, along their slow drift to earth from the lofty limbs above. This continues daily, unobserved in the solitude of the forest...only to be seen by those of us who look for them... As my father often said, "many people look......but never see what they are looking at." Well said Dad...Very well said.