Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The art of spending a day

May 7, 2010
Otter's Point, Moreau Lake State Park

The art of spending a day!
If it is possible that we may be addressed,
it behooves us to be attentive.
If by watching all day and all night,
I may detect some trace of the Ineffable,
then will it not be worth the while to watch?

My profession is to be always on the alert to find God in nature —to know his lurking places.
      HDT Journal, September 1851

It was the last weekday of my vacation, and a sunny one.
How best to take advantage of it?

I went someplace I had not been for some time - Otter's Point.

Going by foot (instead of paddling in from the river) can be a dicey proposition at this time of year, due to all the swampy areas along the river's edge. In the winter the walking is easy here, and one can walk directly from cove to cove.

I took the liberty of mentally renaming this area, from “Potter's Point” to “Otter's Point,” since we've all found plenty of sign of otters in this area. And a month ago, I was lucky enough to SEE one here.

It was a walk through a dark sloping woods. The faint path led past a glacial pothole (watch last last step!)

and ferns of all types. In this cool shady woods, you could still find plenty of polygala, starflower and violets everywhere.

Out at the point of land we call Rippled Rocks, there was a different assortment of plants in bloom - checkerberry, strawberry, a few pink lady-slippers - and a plant new to me – chokeberry - which was blossoming freely along the rocky shore.

The very rocks seemed to be alive and growing, with lichens surrounding sparkly flecks on the surfaces.

In the smallest of puddles, exposed on the rocky shelf, a yin-yang of frog.

I sat awhile out at the far end of the point, enjoying the sun on my face and the riverwind.

Despite being surrounded by beauty, I confess that I was feeling a little grumpy and disappointed - not seeing any otters, or other spectacular sights. I was taking the small things for granted.

Fortunately, when I do that, Nature often conspires to bonk me over the head and teach me a lesson.

It was time to head home. On the sunny roadway back to my car, I walked past masses of yellow honeysuckle bushes, in full bloom. 
Quite forgetting my childhood joy of gathering nectar from the tiny flowers -  instead, I pouted. "Big deal, not native"... I brushed by them peevishly.

Then wait ! something dark flitted from one bush to another.

 It was a black swallowtail butterfly.

And she was so intent on her nectar-gathering that she did not flee, and posed for a portrait.

Lesson learned, and thank-fullness returned.

(from HDT's The Natural History of Massachusetts:)
Surely joy is the condition of life.
Think of the young fry that leap in ponds,
the myriads of insects ushered into being on a summer evening,
the incessant note of the hyla
with which the woods ring in the spring,

the nonchalance of the butterfly
carrying accident and change painted in a thousand hues upon its wings …

1 comment:

  1. I am SOOOO jealous! You got to see that OTTER! I'm glad you took a photo, or I never would believe you. Once again, Sue, you've done a masterful job of combining photos and quotes from Henry and your own account to create a real gem of a post.