By Caitlin Kelly
In the decades of living in our suburban New York town, I’ve walked the reservoir path — a mile each way, paved — many many times, in broiling summer heat (blissfully shaded by old-growth trees) and in the dead of a snowy winter.
There’s something really special about getting to know a landscape well, to know what to look for and anticipate — from the fragrant purple lilac bush at the western end of the walk to the benches at the other end, a perfect spot to stare out across the water at sunset.
I love to watch the woods change with each season, always with my favorite smell in the world — sun-dried pine needles.
I know where the creek is, and love to hear it gurgling — now disturbingly silent and completely dry after weeks without rain. The enormous pond has also shrunk, and I can now see rocks in the reservoir that reveal its drop as well.
The pond in springtime
I love the landmarks — watermarks? — like the beaded strand of little black turtles that line up along a rubber tube on one edge of the water.
The cormorant who chooses to stand on the same rock every year to dry his wings.
The elegant swans.
The screeching red-tailed hawks.
The rustle of a chipmunk fleeing through dead leaves.
There are many trees wrapped tightly in vines — like people who so desperately cling to others.
There’s a rock split in two by a tree — reminding me how much force we can bring when needed to even the toughest problem.
There are many live trees with dead ones propped against them, where they’ve fallen — like dear friends sustaining the ill or grieving.
There’s lacy ice in winter
When I bend down and look closely, there are entire worlds in even just an inch or two beneath my feet: moss, acorns, lichen, stones, earth, leaves, bits of feather and foliage. Everything contains multitudes.
I value an intimate relationship with nature.