Pocket Wilderness

I expected a grey but dry day when we set out for Gastineau Meadow. Then the sun surprised us. Like most rain forest dwellers, I’ve learned to find beauty in soft, wet days. I even appreciate the power of storms. But that shell cracks when warmed by unexpected sunshine.

            Snow still covers part of the meadow trail. A sharply defined line of it stands in the middle of the trail, like the third rail of the D.C. Metro. The snow forming the line was compressed tight by many winter-boot prints. It will be the last to melt.

            Robins sing and Stellar’s jay scold from the branches of Douglas pines. I wish the jays would let the robins perform. After a winter of silence on the meadow, spring bird sounds are very welcome. 

            I coax Aki off the main trail and follow a deteriorating one onto the meadow.  Without meaning to, we flush a flock of dark eyed junkos off the snow. Some carry bits of dried grass in their beaks. They will fledge two crops of chicks in their meadow nests before the snow returns. 

            Even though Aki and I enjoy the warmth of this spring day, we will miss the snow. When it finally melts away, the still frozen meadow beneath it will thaw, making it a mess for walking. We won’t see the wildflower blossoms turn pink or yellow or watch the fruit of ground hugging berry plants plump and color. Those things will be for the birds, deer, bears, wolves, and coyotes on this pocket wilderness. 

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