Saturday, April 14, 2007

Calm Before The Storm

Moose Hill beckoned. Between a trip to Arizona and general busyness, I hadn’t been able to spend much time on Moose Hill lately. It’s been unseasonably cool and wet recently and a big storm is headed our way. This morning was cool and windy but sunny and I craved some time in my special place before the rains start again. I brewed a fresh pot of coffee, packed my bag and pulled the single speed out of the shed.

Inspired by Julie Zickefoose with her NPR commentary and Laura of Somewhere In New Jersey (See sidebar) I did sneak up there on one of the few warm, calm evenings a couple of weeks ago to look for dancing woodcock. Once again, the Hill did not disappoint and I found these funny birds right where I hoped to find them. But that is another story.

While in Arizona, we spent a day visiting Sedona. This beautiful part of the Southwest is famous for not only for its spectacular red rocks and sunsets but for its vortexes (vortices?) as well. Apparently, a vortex is a mystical place where some form of mysterious cosmic energy flows in or out (depending, it seems, on whether the energy is male or female) of the Earth. We climbed to one of these spots and I was happy and a little amused to see a woman sitting in a yoga pose. I don’t know if she was feeling anything or if she was hoping for male or female energy, but I wished her luck. I wasn’t feeling anything. That’s probably because I’m a skeptic about such things, but it may have had something to do with the fact that there was a small crowd of people there, one kid was sitting on the apex of the vortex trying to do homework and two cell phones went off. Or, maybe it was Bill McKibben’s new book that I was reading about the grim prospects for our future if we don’t wake up that had me too unsettled to find inner peace.

I was thinking about mystical forces this morning as I sat in one of my favorite spots on Moose Hill. My initial plan was to explore an unfamiliar part of the woods, but as I climbed the hill I was reflecting back on the year since I started this blog and decided to go back to where it started and just sit and think about stuff.

I took a quick walk around the upper Billings meadow where I watched the woodcocks, hoping to flush a bird or see some whitewash but did neither. I went back to the lower meadow, planning to sit in my favorite spot by the old stone wall.

Before I sat down, I walked around the field to check on the four beehives there. I’ve been hearing about a mysterious malady that has been wiping out honeybees. I was hoping that these isolated hives, away from pesticides and other bees, might escape the disaster. I saw activity at the one Styrofoam hive, but the three wooden ones were silent. I think there was more activity three weeks ago, but I’m not sure. Maybe this place is not as magical for bees as it is for me.

I went back to my spot and set up shop. I got out my binoculars, notebook, coffee and bagel and waited for the show to begin. It didn’t take long. A pair of bluebirds – a bright blue male and browner female – came by to check out the two post-mounted nesting boxes in the meadow. Then, a pair of tree swallows zoomed in from above and a few skirmishes ensued. I remembered that it was the swallows nesting here last spring, and I wondered who would win this time. A little later, I was especially thrilled when my first phoebe of the year flew in, perched, and wagged a greeting. In all, I saw and/or heard just over a dozen bird species from that spot with only the most casual observation. As the sun shone brightly, frogs started croaking in the swamp.

Once again, Moose Hill in general, and this spot in particular filled me with joy. I thought about how this little meadow brought me to tears with its beauty in October. Maybe this is my vortex. I can go there and sit in the sun, sheltered from the wind by the old stones, and for a few moments forget about the world outside.

Too soon, the coffee was gone and the clouds started to build. The wind turned colder and the frogs went silent. Like the irresistible force of fate, the monstrous storm pressed from the south. I momentarily drifted off into a reverie. I wished I had the power to take a long nap and wake when everyone is healthy, the world is at peace and the air is pure. I thought how this meadow may not have looked much different a hundred years ago, but I dreamt I woke up to find it just like this a hundred years in the future.

So, should you ever find yourself walking on Moose Hill and you come upon an old man with a long white beard in tattered clothing dozing by an old rock wall, look around before you wake him up. If a warm sun is shining in a cool blue sky, the bees are in their hives, the bluebirds are happy in one box and the swallows are content in the other, please wake him up.

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At 7:10 AM, Blogger Larry said...

I've never seen the Woodcock do their thing.-Massachusetts has a few so-called mystical rock piles as I was readingg on a blog. I also read about a supposedly true story about how some farmers actually went in to a long slumber during winters when they were short on food.-If I see you I'll wake you up.


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