It is not crowded in the park today, mostly because it is quite cool. I have parked on Skinker Boulevard and walked along the bike path into the park but I have not gotten far. Under the canopy of elms, oaks and maples, bloom columbine, blue wild indigo, spiderworts, red raspberry flowers, geranium, fleabane and golden alexander amidst the Virginia creeper, clustered black snakeroot, and mayapple plants. As I am drawn into the spell of the woodland garden, I spy the snake coiled on an old tree stump, and for a moment the flowers are forgotten. I move closer and kneel to get a closer photo. Except for the flickering of his tongue, my new reptile acquaintance doesn’t move, though as I close in on him another movement catches my eye. It was a mere flash, and if I did not see the other creature peering at me from a crevice in the stump, I might have thought it a figment of my imagination (a very active one, I might add). But there he was, his dark eye glittering in the afternoon sun, a red streak on the side of his head, motionless and watching.
The snake lingered long enough for me to set down my backpack and switch to my macro lens, and then, as I chanced to look away, distracted by cyclists who chanced to pass by on the nearby path, he took advantage of my looking away and disappeared.
I wandered slowly into the woods, sitting among the plants to photograph the columbine and bee balm ( the latter also known as bergamot, due to its similar smell to the oil from the rind of the bergamot orange, used to flavor Earl Grey tea)
I watch a Bluejay fly to one of the tiny saplings in a forest glade. He drops from there down into the surrounding grasses and hops again, apparently on top of something good to eat. An indigo bunting teases me with a brief appearance, while a palm warbler lingers for a more complete photo session. A cardinal shows up late to the party, but his bright red adds a festive air to the woods.
Unlike the jays, cardinals, robins, grackles, starlings, mourning doves and other birds that inhabit the park year round, the warblers are shy and zip from tree to tree picking high branches so that I cannot see them. I catch a glimpse of them as they flit by, but it is hard to identify them from such a brief sighting. My rule on birds is, no picture, no sighting.
It is quiet here, rather astounding considering our close proximity to the city. “Where cross the crowded ways of life, where sound the cries of race and clan, above the noise of selfish strife.” I hear the sounds of nature long forgotten by most men; calls of the birds, rustling of the leaves, and the occasional crackle in the underbrush as some alarmed terrestrial flees my approach.