I have a confession to make.
With the sun striding forth with greater confidence and the daffodils beginning to wax yellow within their bud sheaths, I’ve gotten restless. It’s a seasonal disorder soon to be cured, I hope, but for now when the fit comes on me, I head out to the trestle bridge over Sugar Creek, or drive to Shades for a look-see.
This invariably settles me down. The old god, Antaeus, they say, drew strength from the Earth. After a winter spent largely indoors, it seems I need the same medicine. And I can report now the good news: Spring, despite evidence to the contrary, is making some progress. Herein follows some evidence.
Last Saturday, from the trestle bridge, I saw the creek was running clear—gray-green in the bridge shadow, but, in full sunlight green, leaf-like, and glowing. I saw no fish as yet, but surely they are lurking, still holding in or near their favored wintering spots, their deep pools among boulders. A pair of Canada geese paddled companionably upstream while, overhead, a turkey vulture was scouting for its next meal. The surest marker of spring, however, was all the folks on the trail, whole families with their kids and strollers and cavorting dogs, young couples and some older ones, voting with their feet for the progress of spring.
Tuesday afternoon I made a longer sortie, this time to Shades. I am delighted to report the frogs are manic, apparently drunk with March Madness. At the turn for the Dell Shelter (directly after the welcome booth), there is a vernal marsh just south of the road and from it emerged a loud biophony, as of a thousand crickets on amphetamines with a few holding soprano notes and a couple (bullfrogs?) making occasional bass exclamations. I waded to the edge of the marsh and glassed the area with my binoculars for some minutes. Though I peered intently, I saw not one amphibian eye-ridge or frog kick. It was as if the pool were making its own music, for the revelers were all invisible to this correspondent.
I parked my car a little further on and traversed Trail 10 to Trail 2 (the more direct way is closed for now—a falling tree has taken out a staircase). The forest—beech, oak, silver maples—is yet leafless, except of course for the millions fallen last Fall, underfoot, doing their work to feed the soil. A few birds, unseen, sang in the distance and one irate red-bellied woodpecker, flew up, scolding me for startling it. I made my way to the writing bench above Pearl Ravine. There I drank in the sun, and listened to the little creek’s glittery sound as it hurried toward Sugar Creek. Nothing like the sound of a stream to still the soul. The Psalmists knew what they were about.
In that mellow mood, I got to thinking about water. Such a simple little molecule, a mere triad of atoms, two of hydrogen and one of oxygen, a dipole with some remarkable properties, some of which help explain how life could arise on this planet. Therefore, eventually, fish and frogs and you and I, all lucky to have our moment in the sun.
And I thought of the Ephemeroptera—mayflies. Just yesterday chatting with a friend, the invertebrate zoologist, Dr. Eric Wetzel, I learned that mayflies would soon be stirring, waking from their wintry quiescence, and leaving their lodgings under stones to seek smaller creeks. Crayfish will also be emerging from their leaf-packs and what with fish on the prowl again and winged insects hovering near the surface, soon our creek’s ecosystem will be speeding up.
Likewise, the Friends of Sugar Creek! Check out our new website: just Google Friends of Sugar Creek, and the link should be the second item. Click on Events on the menu bar and there you’ll see our calendar of upcoming events: our Annual Meeting on April 18th(5:30 p.m at Fusion 54), the Spring Clean-up on April 27th, and (a flourish of trumpets!) the Annual Canoe Race on May 18th.
In the meantime, may Spring smile upon you, and you on Spring!
Marc Hudson is Editor of Currents.