Remember the prize in the cracker jack box? That thrill of discovery.
The walk in the woods is like that—finding prizes. You know they’re there and just wait to find them. I visited the Boyce Mayview Park wetlands area. An Instagram post took me there for the trilliums. There were hundreds in bloom along the wetlands trail on my first rainy visit as well as red trilliums waiting to bloom. My second trip was for those red trilliums that still held buds that appeared brown as if the frost had nipped them in the last few nights. I walked past the wetlands where an egret stood motionless as a great blue heron swooped down beside it. I hiked to the falls near the Curved Bridge and then down to Chartiers Creek where a couple of dogs swam in the muddy water. One barked ferociously at me, socially challenged its owner explained.
I walked a bit further over paths muddied by our recent rains. Without a map of the trails, I decided to backtrack to the wetlands and to my car. My Ahnu boots were mud-covered and wet but not one leak. As I neared a break in the weeds and trees lining the edge of the wetlands a great blue heron flapped away. So I sat on a log for a while silently waiting and watching for birds. I could hear ducks on the edge beyond my view as I had heard unseen woodpeckers on the trail. Eventually another heron waded out and stood almost motionless, only turning its head slightly.
Along the trails were white and purple violets and lupines and geraniums and mallow and blooming May Apples and other plants and wildflowers unidentified without my guide.
Those flowers and plants and birds are the expected yet still unexpected prizes of the walk in the woods.