In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wild Things -- Finding Peace in Chaos

                          "I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with
                          forethought of grief. . . For a time I rest in the grace of the world and
                          am free." Wendell Berry

Those lines from Wendell Berry's poem, The Peace of Wild Things, resonates for me, even as a city dweller, or I should say, even more as a city dweller. While there is a French coffee and sandwich shop nearby that sustains a poet friend and is occasionally a writing spot for me, it is the woods with wild flowers blooming and birds chirping, paths beckoning, that brings that peace. More than peace, those walks, alone more often than not, bring joy, the simple joy of observing and being with the wild things.

                                                     Spring Beauty in Warner Park

Before the bushes leaf out, i observe the the steep drop of a hill or the way one undulates as if it was a baby ski slope, though no skis rode these hills,  and wonder at the way they are. I am grateful for the acres of woods and trails preserved in Nashville/Davidson County--more than 1200 acres at Radnor Lake Natural Area where the trails are free of pets and runners and is my regular haunt, and over 3,000 acres at the combined Percy and Edwin Warner parks at the western edges of the county where in Edwin, over seven miles of paved road trails have recently been made car free, with the best trails for getting in shape at Percy.

                      Tennessee larkspur, a carpet of purple blue, shorter than those in the high Rockies.
On a day when the city closes in, the news too troubling to hear or read, what I am doing seems pointless, I get in my car (alas, that's necessary) and drive the eight miles to those seldom busy hillside trails in Radnor, the park where I am most at home. The larkspur are profuse this spring, clearing of noxious plants allowing for spread of this lovely purple flower. Its show will soon be over, and the woods will have only spare flowers throughout as spring greens turn darker and bushes green the hills.

The lake, water fowl, birds, deer and other wildlife will take center stage until falls' foliage make the hills a joyous pallet of color.  The only human in sight on the South Cove trail many days, I visit with my deer friends who mostly ignore me and continue foraging for food. The wild turkeys, too, are oblivious to the walkers who stop to stare--or those too intent on their exercise to notice. They gather on the main lake trail, one I use on days when my energy lags and the hills of South Cove seem too much or when I need to get back to my car quickly as the predicted showers materialize, heavier than expected. Thundershower predicted days are some of the best to be on sparsely peopled trails.

I'll leave with photos of spring flowers, mostly shot on the trails of another of our parks, Beaman, in northwest Davidson County, more remote, rugged and less crowded, even on the lovely Sunday afternoon when I scoured the trails for trillium, eastern red columbine (so different from my favorite Colorado mountain columbine), Dutchman's breeches, scarlet catchfly, and the one that brought me greatest joy, the Appalachian trout lily.

I miss my first spring flowers in the Rockies, especially the glacier lilies that carpeted the hillside above Lake Isabelle in Indian Peaks Wilderness above Boulder. For years I trekked through snow, waded water and skated on ice--whatever necessary--to catch these little yellow lilies at their prime. I made that annual visit with new friends and went back alone that Colorado spring before I moved back to Tennessee, knowing it would likely be my last sighting of those lilies other than in my memory and many photos. Imagine my delight, when near to a running creek in Beaman Park I sighted little yellow lilies, first one, then two or three, and then a colony. They were yellow trout lilies and looked so much like the Glacier lilies that tears welled as I squatted to take a photo.

Others were lovely too.   The scarlet catchfly, Dutchman's breeches and trillium below.

And I end with the lovely Virginia bluebells, taken at Edwin Warner park where they are a loved sight for many.
Whether or not these or other flowers are in bloom, I find that peace, as Wendell Berry so eloquently stated it, as I harken back to that little Margaret who skipped across the fields picking daisies, in my journey with the wild things.