Last evening I put on my layers and tall rubber boots and headed out to Great Meadows' flooded trails to catch the sunset. In the shadowy pools along the entry drive, starry ice formations were gathering around waterborn twigs.
It was 4:05 pm and the sun was poised for its final descent, with perfect streaming clouds ready to catch the spray of color that would follow. I headed out the Dike Trail, leaving behind other visitors who weren't dressed for high water. The calf-deep flooding around the first footbridge gave way to drier ground where the views to the west opened up.
It was completely calm and so silent an evening, that I slipped easily into my zone of perfect communion with the gathering dark and blushing sky and the wildlife's dusktime bustle.
Hearing the softest sound behind me, I turned slowly around to find a young, solitary snow bunting feeding on spilled evening primrose seeds right at my feet. We kept quiet company with each other for nearly five minutes, exchanging soulful glances in between its mouthfuls and my shutter clicks. I've never seen a snow bunting up close and was truly stirred by its soft beauty and remarkably calm and engaging disposition.
|Male snow bunting in winter plumage|
As the dark gathered around us and coots and muskrats began to scurry across the trail, I reluctantly turned to go while I could still see to ford the flooding. Just as I reached the kiosk and turned for one last look at the fading light and color, the nightly battalion of Canada geese, a couple hundred strong, came surging over the western horizon toward the marshes, their crescendo of honking breaking the stillness until all tumbled down and were quietly settled on the dark water.
|Geese heading in for the night|
I left, reassured by the signs, that winter indeed is upon us.