“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
We finally got a short break (although I guess you could call this “the calm before the storm”) since our next set of exams is in two weeks during which we’ll have 2-3 exams each day straight for a week. Taking around 14 classes doesn’t always give us a ton of time to relax and do other non-dentistry related things. I used to write A LOT and admittedly, at times I feel like a brainless, studying machine with most of my energy allotted to wrought memorization rather than critical thinking and analysis.
Since E and I had an overlapping free weekend for the first time in a while we went to one of our favorite parks about half an hour north of town. It was also a beautiful day so we wanted to spend it outside. The first time we visited Kensington together was around a year and a half ago. The park is huge and it has everything from boat rentals, golf, archery, a small water park, a farm, and a ton of trails and lakes.
The special thing about the trails is that somehow the birds have been conditioned to land on your hand while you hold out seeds for them. The nature center on the trail provides little gum ball machines full of seeds. Although I’ve always loved animals, particularly reptiles, I never was too “into” birds until my mother bought a bird feeder for our garden. But nothing beats that exhilarating feeling of having a wild bird land in your hand. There were many Chickadees, American Robins, Cardinals, Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and last year we even saw bald eagles in their massive nests.
This bird here is a Downy Woodpecker distinguished as male by the red patch on the back of his head.
Here you can see the female Downy Woodpecker lacking the red patch.
Of course there were a few squirrels and chipmunks waiting for seeds dropped by passerbys like us although they would not eat out of our hands like a lot of the birds (or the chubby fox squirrels on campus).
Another bird that often frequents the hands of passerbys is the White-Breasted Nuthatch.
We hardly ever got this guy, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, to come to our hands and for some reason, when he did, my lens decided to malfunction and capture a blurry image. (I really need to bring it to the camera shop to test/clean the sensors…)
And my all-time favorite is the Sandhill Crane. As we were walking across the swamp boardwalk near the end of the loop I was telling E how we missed the Sandhill Cranes that we had seen last time. Suddenly out of no where two huge cranes walked out of the woods straight towards us. They were massive and gorgeous and honestly a little bit intimidating as they had absolutely no fear of us. My first thought was that maybe they were territorial creatures and we were encroaching in their space but apparently they just wanted the seeds in our pockets. Their little beaks felt a lot like chopsticks.
By the time we were leaving the park, the sun was setting and the whole scene looked like we were walking into a dream. It felt surreal, somewhat nostalgic, and I almost cried. It was nice to step away from the usual hectic-ness of our lives and enjoy the pure serenity of the natural world.
I was reminded of a quote by John Muir, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”