May 08, 2007
Things behind the sun
Suddenly, it feels like summer.
This morning I drove past farmhouses and newly plowed fields, past red barns and old silos, past white churches and trees with leaves just coming out. I went to Gorgeous Town to meet up with a blogging friend who had promised to take me on a hike.
First we walked through his neighborhood, past front yard gardens and trees with outstretched branches. Flowers were unfolding everywhere, long branches of forsythia hanging down bright yellow over grey stone walls. The coolest thing about Chip's neighborhood is that you can walk just a few blocks and find yourself at the base of a waterfall. We climbed down from the bridge to see the waterfall up close, feeling the spray on our faces.
We hiked for a couple of hours in a nearby state park, and I lost track of how many little waterfalls we saw. The trail seemed almost entirely up hill as we followed a creek upstream, first along damp mossy stone walls, and later through the woods. At the top, we came to a low flat lake, green water with mud flats and boggy areas. We stopped to sit on a bridge to eat some oranges, and I realized that we hadn't seen any other people at all. I love sitting in a peaceful spot, doing nothing at all, on a Tuesday morning when elsewhere in the world, people are rushing about in their busy lives.
The crashing water kept us company as we talked. At the top of the trail, we crossed a flat grassy area near a road, a field filled with tiny flowers. The flowers were the size of forget-me-nots, but up close, I could see they were something different.
Just as I was saying to Chip, for the twentieth time, "I wonder what these flowers are called, " and he was saying patiently, for the nineteenth time, "I don't know, but I have them in my backyard," a group of students appeared out of nowhere, wildflower identification books in their hands. Their leader paused, pointed at the flowers, and said, "Does everyone recognize this?"
I made Chip stop. "Wait. He's going to tell us."
I stood there hopefully, but the students seemed clueless. They mumbled and paged through their books. The teacher kept giving them hints. They kept shrugging and looking helplessly at the plants. I inched closer, waiting to hear the answer, thinking maybe that if I was close enough, I could peer into the teacher's book.
Minutes went by. I was beginning to feel like a stalker. The sun was beating down on the students, and I kept thinking the teacher would take pity on them and just announce the name of the flower, but that was not to be. In the end, I decided that the whole group, with their bright-coloured wildflower identification books, the only people we'd seen all day, a group who appeared out of nowhere, were just some kind of mirage.
So we continued the hike, downhill through trees with bare branches and hanging vines, some dead trees bleached white against the blue of the sky. We were both hungry, ready for cold juice and sandwiches at the local bakery. Because so little of the foliage is out yet this time of year, the hike was mostly in the sun, and my body actually felt warm, warm all the way from head to toe. That's the feeling that means summer is here.
Posted by jo(e)