By Michael Suchorsky

While having breakfast and going through news and email on the computer I notice a large broken branch on the berm of the pond. Not having any heavy winds for days, I got the binoculars to see what kind of tree it might be. It was a Great Blue Heron!! I watched it for several minutes. It took a martial arts step towards the water while bending into a forward crouch. This caused a large Triploid Carp to quickly turn and vanish from the pond’s edge, creating a good-sized wake. Can’t imagine what the Heron was thinking, for the carp are fat and ranging from 17” to 24”, weighing many pounds.

About 30 minutes later I heard geese calling and watched them quickly circle the pond 3 times, descending the whole while, then basically parachuting the last 100’ into the water near the spillway. This is only the second time I’ve seen Canadian Geese in the pond. They were swimming about, walking on and off the berm. I assumed the Heron had left, but when I looked from the loft windows the Heron was rising from the pond, heading straight towards me before veering away. Wonder if its presence called in the Geese. Wonder if the robust activities of the geese ruined its fishing and it departed. (Between this, the snapping turtle yesterday along with three painted turtles, plus the many visits of the wood ducks, and mallards, makes the pond the place to be.)

The multi-flora has begun to leaf out, as many other things such as the Niobe Clematis, Niobe Willow, Elderberry, with invasive honeysuckle being far ahead of the rest. The Prayer Plants have sprouted, tulips showed little slits of red as several buds consider opening. Shadblow are in  blossom as of yesterday evening, and the Azalea broke into blossom this morning—8’ high by 8’ in diameter of solid beautiful blossoms, with exactly two bumble bees visiting it. The repercussions of the demise of insects dwarfing anything C-19 might have wrought on the world. . . in my mind.

At 4 pm I drove to the trail sign on the reservoir road to hike up the center peak of Hunt Mountain. It was basically a bushwhack all the way up—I followed a good deer trail on the upper part. Total bushwhack coming down—actually a slow motion controlled fall…and with my body being thrown around I was thankful for all the yoga I’ve been doing, for some of the near falls strained the very areas I’ve been working on—there were no consequences. Great good fortune! This was a VERY STEEP hike up—kind of like a mini-Plateau Mountain hike up from Devils Lake. Hunt Mountain is a little over 1000’ vertical—most of it in a 1/4 mile as the crow flies. I also went down the other side a little bit to get a view of Cabot Mountain, Beech Hill, and Middle Mountain. Brought back the order of my universe.

Great views of the reservoir most of the time, due to the heavy vertical and no leaves or buds on the trees. Carolina Beauties were blossoming here and there throughout the hike, Yellow Violets with maroon striped lower lips were in the higher areas. Trilliums and Trout Lily leaves were just appearing—in one wet area near a waterfall there were open blossoms on two Trilliums. Beautiful (old growth?) trees throughout the hike, with quite an array of trees that offered shelter for wildlife with their various compromised trunks, plus numerous large old trunks—long ago split off around 20’ in the air—that were filled with Pileated Woodpecker holes. An incredible array of multiple mosses on old eteched logs. A typical log would have emerald green moss covering large portions of it with a thin light green moss growing atop of it in forms like the spreading arms of ice crystals on a window, or the feeding streams on a map of a watershed. On one log this mix moved towards and gave way to a thin blue-green rough lichen covering a large area, while nearby scarlet red cupped mushrooms with light orange highlighting its edge were growing on sticks in deep mulch. Two hermit thrushes were shadowing me on the very top of the mountain. (I heard one a week or two ago out past the cemetery, but this is the first time I’ve seen them this year.) I watched a good-sized black porcupine for a long time as I slowly slipped down the mountain. It was not concerned with my approach and I finally passed within a few feet of it.

Upon my return home I had a beverage of choice while watching the evening dance of vultures above the reservoir. They gather from afar. A speck that I would train the binoculars on would quickly approach the aerial dance that gathered, expanded and condensed—like breathing—as many as 22 vultures over a mile diameter and thousands of feet high, forming endless geometric configurations as they gracefully improvised and reacted to each other’s desired expression.~