My desk yesterday was covered with piles of stuff I needed to do. Neatly labeled manilla folders, yellow legal pads covered with writing, a pile of papers to be graded, and post-it notes of every colour covered the surface. I couldn't even set down my laptop without shoving aside some of the piles. But the sun was shining, and it didn't seem right to stay indoors. The full moon had filled me with a restless energy. I put on an old pair of jeans and my tall rubber boots and trudged through the mud to the woods behind my house.
The winter snow is gone. Oh, we are supposed to get some snow this weekend but that will be spring snow; it won't stay around long. The woods were brown and grey, the wet ground plastered with dead leaves and filled with puddles to stomp through. I don't think I will ever outgrow my enjoyment of puddles and the way it feels to just stomp right in, splashing water and mud all over.
How bare the forest seemed this time of year. The ferns stay green all year, but they were still pressed flat against the ground, as if they aren't ready yet to trust that those heavy layers of snow are gone. The young beech trees hold their leaves all winter, a dim gold against grey tree trunks. And of course, along logs and tree stumps and the base of trees, the brilliant greens of mosses glowed. In the summer, moss in the forest is barely visible, crowded out visually by all kinds of foliage, but in early April, the green mounds shine against the brown and grey background. Sometimes when the sun shines down through the leafless trees, bits of blue sky lies scattered in the puddles, broken by branches into odd shapes.
Flannel Shirt Student, who walks every day in the urban cemetery near campus, has been telling me he's been watching a family of fox; he's patient enough to notice all kinds of wildlife. And one of my blogging friends saw a fox family on her morning run today. In my woods, I see tracks in the mud – deer, mostly, and wild turkeys – but sometimes skunk or raccoon or fox or coyote, but I rarely see any animals. Perhaps it's because I am too loud as I splash happily through the puddles, tossing aside branches that have fallen onto my trails and sometimes pushing over dead scotch pines or birch just for the pleasure of hearing them fall. I see far more wildlife when I am sitting on my couch, looking out the window into the yard, than I do on my walks. I have to be content, as I stomp through the puddles, making my way through the woods noisily, to notice the tracks and the scat, and just know that the other creatures are there.