Day: June 13, 2013

An Evening Walk

I went for a walk during the hour of fireflies in the hope that I would be able to capture one in a picture. The fireflies were very obliging, the hovered right in front of my camera more than once, but sadly my skill is lacking. I have dozens of shots of blurry ground or blurry fireflies. So I turned my lens toward some less mobile targets.

This fern caught my eye because it was growing six feet up on the side of a tree. I wondered how big it would get over the course of the summer or if it would always be a tiny thing.

As I walked, I saw lots of evidence that this is a tended forest. Trees that fall across the paths were cut into logs and cleared. I loved the contrast in color between the bark and the heart wood.

This cluster of flowers was no bigger than my thumb, but still lovely.

The small details of this world are amazing.

On the Thursday of a Writers Retreat

The walk along the creek here at Woodthrush Woods is familiar to me, but it feels different than it did in September. In the fall the trees were distinct and individual. I noticed mushrooms and the textures of bark. In June these things are obscured by fresh green growth and somehow the trees feel more like a backdrop. I walk the trails anyway, waiting to see what might catch my eye. Mostly I just get a sense of welcome. In no legal way do I have ownership over this forest. I am a guest who has been fortunate enough to be invited twice. Yet in some unmeasurable way it feels like this forest belongs to me, or perhaps I belong to it. The trees, plants, and land must stay here when I return to Utah, yet I take something home with me.

Howard and I walked together by the creek when the fireflies were out. They turned out to be more abundant on the lawns, but the creek walk was lovely on its own. We saw a pair of snapping turtles in the deep, slow portion of the creek. They’d not been there during the day. We only saw them because they swam away from us to hide under the roots of a tree by the bank. We walked through a spiderweb on the trail back. This was not unusual, but this one stuck itself to the front of Howard’s glasses. It could be seen there, glistening threads in a classic web pattern. Hopefully the spider leaped to safety. I have no argument with forest spiders. They can eat all the mosquitoes.

I am so glad to have Howard here, that he’s being able to do some writing despite the annoying computer he has as a writing machine. I have thus far done very little writing. Instead I have spent most of my energy as support crew, putting out food, putting away food, washing dishes, running laundry, and going grocery shopping. The spaces have been occupied with business email, conversations with my kids, and catching up on the sleep I missed during my travel delays. I still have time ahead of me in which I can write, but only a day or so of it. My trip is shorter on both ends than I would have preferred. It is what it had to be, but some other year I hope to come early and stay late. All signs point to there being another year during which I’ll be invited. I am glad. The company is excellent and I love this forest.


I saw the first on out of the corner of my eye, like a spark rising from a fire which then went out. I watched where I’d seen it until it flashed again. A firefly, two actually, had begun their evening dance. They surprised me because I thought I’d have to go walking by the creek to see them. Instead they hovered in open spaces all around the house, flapping almost invisibly until deciding to light and rise up five or six inches. I know that such sights are common to those who live in the Eastern US. They’re like cardinals, which are common here and do not exist in the Western states where I’ve always lived. I sat while one fly hovered a mere five inches from my elbow. His wings were a blur of effort to keep him airborne, his legs dangled above his abdomen which pointed at the ground. He was a tiny, quiet bug and then he lit and I began to understand why people might believe in fairies.

I don’t really know what I expected of fireflies. I suppose I thought they would be in the bushes and trees, like twinkle lights from Christmas decorations. Even though I’ve heard the phrase “fireflies dancing” I somehow still pictured them lighting up from hiding places. They did not hide, instead they shone from wherever they were, for all the world to see. Then the light would go out and the quiet little bug would move to another spot to shine again. I think these fireflies are among my favorite things. I wish I had the photography skills to capture one of these little flies. I would love to capture, not just the beauty of the light, but also the hovering diligence of the bug who is only bright occasionally. The fireflies work so hard to create this beauty and they will never know that I am inspired by it.