When was the last time you peeked out from the inside of a tree? Unless you’re a squirrel, it’s probably been a rare occasion, if ever. This tree might have been hit by lightening, judging by the shapes of the “windows.” It happens that this was my second opportunity to walk inside a tree, the first being at another Columbus Metro Park. Over the last 19 months, my friend Dan has taken Dora and me to a metro park once a week for a change of pace, literally. When we step onto a paved trail, it’s like Dora is trying to win a race. If we have the trail mostly to ourselves, I take off the harness and let her walk freely. Ironically, she doesn’t run ahead but stays about six feet in front of us, walking at our pace.
Even though I get a kick out of Dora’s enjoyment, what I love most about these walks in the parks is stopping to listen, to touch, to smell, and to learn. In one park, we were startled as we walked across a little bridge. We thought we heard a woodpecker under the bridge, but we learned later that it was a squirrel making a warning sound to his forest friends. In another park, I touched the most interesting moss that covered the whole tree. At every park bench we encounter, we stop to read for whom the bench was dedicated. We also take that opportunity to rest my back and give Dora a drink.
On the walk last week, we thought at first that we were hearing a gaggle of geese in the distance, but as they approached overhead, we saw that it was a murder of crows. Murder is a good word for a bunch of crows, because you just know what their motivation is. They flew not in formation like geese but in a bunch, and they made a huge circle, coming back around toward us. For a minute, we thought they might have had murdering us on their minds. But they soon settled down by a pond, where no doubt, there was some disgusting scent whetting their appetites. This week, we returned to one of our favorite parks where hundreds of tall pine trees stand at attention all year. But now that we have cooler weather, their fragrance floats all around, causing us to stop in our tracks and breathe in the memories of Christmas that pine evokes. We stand and sniff the air, just savoring the peace of the pine forest and the quiet that surrounds us. Because not many people know about this sanctuary of trees and birds, we usually have the trails to ourselves. Meanwhile, winter is on its way, and I hope we can visit some of these parks when snow changes the entire scene, and we have a whole new park experience to enjoy.
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