Every morning, right around seven, we head off down the sidewalk toward the park. In January, we walk in the dark.
But this time of year, early on the mornings of early summer, it is full light. On these mornings, walking through the park is like walking through a Disney movie.
There are not many people yet this time of day--a few other dog walkers, a couple of bicyclists, the stooped bearded guy who greets us with a little half-wave when we pass on the bridge. That's about it: in the mornings, the park belongs to the animals.
This is when the birds really shine. They flit and twitter, they swoop and dive, they cling to branches and belt out conk a reeeeee! conk a reeeeee! (Those are the red-winged blackbirds, of course.)
Goldfinches and bluebirds dart past, showing off their bright colors in the sun, and twice I've seen the orange and black flash of a Baltimore oriole. A great blue heron flaps in and settles in the rushes by the shore.
The red-tailed hawk keeps watch in the top of the tallest pine tree on the other side of the pedestrian bridge, waiting for rabbits.
Can you see him up there? Here, I'll zoom in.
I'll walk around and try to get a shot of his face ---
--Whoops. Pissed him off.
He's big, bigger than any hawk I've seen before. I think it's because food is so abundant right now.
(This rabbit wants to go on record as saying he does not appreciate being known as "food." But he is.)
The squirrels peek at us, confounding Riley, who acts, each time, as though he's never seen a squirrel before. Eight summers now, he freezes, stares, and bolts, eight summers I yank him back.
Across the bridge, away from the lake, the big old groundhog pokes his head out of his burrow, looks around comically, and then squeezes out and sets off across the grass, looking for whatever it is that groundhogs eat. I see him often in the mornings, and again every evening as I head home. I round the curve by the West Picnic Grounds, and there he is, in the grassy verge on the righthand side of the road, head down, eating. No wonder he's fat. He eats all day.
Well, here's his burrow, anyway.
Over by the frog pond, as we loop back toward home, the pale blue delphiniums are tall and graceful, swaying in the morning breeze. The roses are already in bloom.
Imagine the smells! I love the sights and the sounds, but it is the smells that fill the dogs with wonder and joy.
Wendy Zollner & Savanna
13 minutes ago