Observation Nine

Earth Week 2019

Weather: Sun setting, calm, pretty spring day

Temp: 60 F

Time: 19:15

As I approach my observation spot evidence of spring is slow to come in northern Vermont. The once crunchy path underfoot is now soggy with wet decaying leaves intertwined with mud protecting and renewing the soil below. As I approach the clearing by the Winooski River the light is reflecting on the water creating a mirror image of the trees protecting the bank. The sun is low in the sky, approaching sunset. I deliberately planned my visit for later in the day to catch the late afternoon light and my breath after a stressful academic day.

On my last visit the water was frozen solid and I was able to visit the “island.” Now, the river is so high the island is barely visible. Debris was everywhere – driftwood like sticks and mud traveling with the winter snow melt was scattered across the landscape. The only sign of new growth were hearty marsh grass struggling through the mud and flood water, and a smattering of buds forming on the trees. The water flooding over the banks into the marshy fields remind me of Aldo Leopold’s April reflections. In Come High Water. Leopold commented that, “The spring flood brings us more than high adventure; it brings likewise an unpredictable miscellany of floaty objects pilfered from upriver farms” (502). That is surely what is here this April evening.

In my fixed location photo the tree jutting over the water stands ready to bloom into spring. The root system for the protruding tree must be strong to survive the rush of the spring run off. There was no evidence of beaver sign at my location which surprised me given the time of year and how active they’d been in the area during the fall season. I wonder if the flood waters have affected the way they act in the spring? Overall, there were no signs of wildlife, no evening birds or peeper frogs singing songs this spring evening. My sense is that the natural environment is on the verge of bursting back to life and once the water recedes life will spring forth.

View from fixed location
Showing the flooding caused by the high water
My sketch of the grass popping through the mud