Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adventures at Randolph Park, squirrel barking

    There she blows! Or there they went. When I reached the beginning of the trail just off the little gazebo picnic shelter across from the frog pond at Randolph Park (Dublin, VA) and the beginning of the trail wasn't much of a trail at all. The 'derecho', a Spanish term I'd only heard of recently, decided to blow through these little woods. The derecho or wind storm precedes a thunderstorm with high winds in the area of 80 mph. Some might question it, but "climate change" is making the weather more capricious and unpredictable.
    So the trail looked like a semi-cleared area, most of the trees and shrubs and tiny plants and the brown leaf litter in its place instead. Where was the trail? Who cared? This was a walk with adventure. Farther on there was a big leafless tree just to the side of the trail I did happen to find. It was oddly in front of a concrete engraving that read " Let Hope keep you joyful". A bit beyond that I almost got tangled on a blackberry bush, the sweet berries hanging close to the ground. There were also some young guys judging the distance to a frisbee target close by,but I walked beyond them. 
    Beyond that there looked to be a big, bricked in wishing well. It turned out to be a humongous fire pit and in back of it were ampitheater seats in four or five short rows. Not sure when it was last used -- the nymphs of nature, the inspiration of poetry and spring, probably held a concert of natural sounds there --- bird tweets, cricket chirps, and  the whistles of wind and whining, moving branches. (But there was no such concert happening as I walked by.)
    As I was  coming out of the woods a squirrel skirted across a picnic shelter table and jumped down and over to a young, not too tall tree, possibly a young tulip poplar. He eyed me suspiciously and seemed very unhappy I was crossing his path. As I got to the tree he started to make the oddest sound at me.
    Some people call it barking. I think it sounds more like low pitched quacking. He'd quack-bark and moved around the tree, then quack-bark some more and go higher in this 12 foot tree, then stop and bark again. He was annoyed with me; well, I was annoyed with him too!
    This last time son Zeb came with me. He decided to lie down on a picnic table in the gazebo as I scouted out the nearby frog pond. Delicate, lilac colored "monkey flowers" dotted the edge of one side of the pond and I heard whoosh, whoosh a few times. Then Zeb came by and there was another whoosh, whoosh. When I'd visited after the derecho I'd spied a big green frog, his ear circle prominent, and pointed it out to few kids who were happening by. This time there were no kids, no frogs I could actually see. Just the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
    Zeb decided on entering the far end of the little trail filled woods and came upon some fencing topped with barbed wire (he said they used 'razor' wire on the fence at the prison where he was librarian). There was a big hole in the fencing and he wanted to see what was beyond. So we trekked up a rather slippery, dirty hill to a woods which was, instead, fronted by old railroad tracks. There were nonnative species growing up in the tracks, including pepperweed, burning bush, and spotted knapweed. Zeb thought it was weird the train tracks seemed to be in the middle of the woods--- did they actually go anywhere? We didn't know but quickly forgot about it and went back toward the car.

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