Sunday, May 15, 2011
I didn't know what to do with myself today when I woke up (around 7), especially knowing that I'd have access to the car. So I did a bit of online research and discovered that there was to be a guided wildflower nature walk starting at ten, meeting at the kiosk in the parking lot of a state park on the eastern side of the county, a park I've never been to. It was a bit of a surprising leap to decide right then to go, but I did. It's about a half-hour drive from here, into the hills. I wanted to go because of longstanding frustration in the back of my mind, with my frequent inability to name what I observe in nature, something I come up against in my walks - so forever what a pretty flower - what is that? that I give up and just take in the general ambience - which is fine too - but not noticing let alone appreciating as well as I might fascinating particulars. (I think with envy of Emily Dickinson, how her detailed knowledge of botany, starting with her childhood herbarium, gave her an ability to name things as well as to savor their meanings, which immeasurably informed and enriched her poetry.)
It's a beautiful park, owned by the state but managed by volunteers, in a niftily cobbled together arrangement including grandfathered cultivation rights by local alfalfa farmers. I didn't quite understand the arrangement, but it's a creative piece of legal conservationist artistry that has saved a breathtaking 300-acre open space from development and led to the creation of a preserve and community park.
It was a very small group this morning: myself; the wildlife experts who have spent 30 years, husband & wife, getting to know, season by season, year after year, the flora of the region; the very enthusiastic and pleasant volunteer manager/coordinator of the park; a family, husband, wife and I'm guessing sister or sister-in-law or aunt, along with two little boys.
Can you tell I'm from the city? I had flown to this excursion at the last minute, slightly inadequately dressed in a light sweater, and sporting an umbrella. Everyone else was in mudgear, anoraks and floppy rain hats and boots and waterproof most everything. No matter. It was all cool. I was there for my own reasons, to try to take notes on whatever knowledge I might glean as to flora, and so I juggled my umbrella, along with a small notebook, pen, and camera, an (ir)regular Nancy Drew, (ill)equipped for outdoor inquiry. It didn't matter at all. It was a delightful group, and we all fell into an easy rhythm, very relaxing, just a bunch of adults and a couple of young boys foraging about in woods exclaiming "what's this" and "what's that." I noted how beautifully on this misty morning new foliage shone citrus against ebony mulch.
It hardly rained at all as we meandered through the woods, just a lot of mist and moisture. Which is amazing to me in retrospect. This acreage, abutting the Taghanics, or perhaps it's considered the foothills of the Berkshires there, seems to be a sweet spot of sorts. Because once I turned from the parking lot onto the main north/south highway, Route 22, that parallels the mountains - it poured rain - to the extent that there was no way I might accidentally exceed the speed limit - rather, I kept conservatively below so as to avoid hydroplaning or any road flooding, water beating down noisily and madly as I headed north. What a strange road (I have traveled it, at various disconnected points in time, from Vermont all the way down to Westchester where I cut off from it and traveled back roads to Greenwich), it seems to have a weather pattern all its own. At Austerlitz, about twenty miles north of the park, I turned west onto Route 203 - and as soon as I made the turn, the violent rain abruptly ceased. It was misty and overcast all the way back to the lower elevations of the west (California!) side of the county - but no pounding, seering rain.
Anyway darling, I will launch this without editing - am feeling a bit barometrically-low-pressured - mood just fine, but the weight of all this moisture-laden air...
Throwing my arms around you and kissing you -