I’m at my daughter Pippin’s home in the Northern California forest, getting ready for the arrival of Baby. While we’re waiting we’ve been taking lots of walks, including some similar to what I enjoyed three years ago when I reported in Meadow and Trees.
When I am walking with Pippin it often happens that she scoops something from the trail and drops it into my hand. A baby pine cone from a Ponderosa, or a feather that has fallen from a red-shafted flicker.
She will stop suddenly in the middle of the meadow because she spies a praying mantis in the grass. By comparison with her, I am blind. But once she takes a picture of something, I know that I want to take its picture too.
I snapped photos of bear scat and raccoon tracks, wild rose hips and an unknown feathery plant that grows in swaths, especially near the edge of the forest. I soaked up the scents of pine and grasses that were rising in the summer heat.
|after the bear feasted on manzanita berries….|
Pippin and I helped each other provide shade if needed in order to get better lighting on the little purple thistles that were in full sun under a blue September sky.
We kneeled down to do a serious photo shoot of the mantis and I attempted a movie to catch him moving his small head this way and that.
|a non-stubby thistle|
There are places where the dried-up meadow is sparse with stubby weeds and tiny stickers that get into my socks. I try to ignore the prickles because it’s no fun stopping for them every few minutes.
Our swish-swish through the grass is accompanied by the gentle clicks of sprays of tiny grasshoppers jumping every which way out of our way. Some of them crash against my chest.
After a while we get to a wetter area where the water sits longer in the spring. Now in late summer some of the swampy areas have dried up, and the algae has become a papery brown layer that stays at its previous level when it was a blanket floating on mountain runoff.
Blades of green marshy grass stick up through it like toothpicks holding it well above the current ground level, and lots more pale dead grass lies flattened where the snow has weighed it down through many winters. As we tromped along, our boots breaking through the paper made a noise such as you might hear when marching through large cornflakes. Tiny frogs hopped out of our path and escaped being crunched.
An apparently man-made channel runs on one side of the meadow and keeps the creek water from spreading out and making the entire area into a marsh. A solitary duck paddled fast into the reeds when we came near, where pennyroyal grew on the banks and long runners of wild raspberry snaked along the ground.
In addition to my camera loaded with pictures (even slanty ones like that below) I brought home the tiny cones, the feather, my weary feet and a warm peacefulness.