Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Paines Island Saunter

Catalpa blossoms.
An early morning saunter around the edge of Paines Island brings blessings beyond articulation. I stand at the north tip of Paines Island where the waters of the Susquehanna are channeled left and right in shallow riffled currents. A foggy veil rises as if summoned by the light of the new day. The smell of dead fish lingers in the air; breakfast fit for an eagle. Gazing outward from the shore of Paines Island the oscillation between riffles and pools that carry fine particulate matter as well as the occasional leaf or branch downstream is mesmerizing; the sound that the water makes as it rushes on by is enough to drown out the noise of nearby roads, farms, and businesses. If you ask me, this retreat is a priceless gift in and of itself. My prayer is that my senses be brought in tune with this wild space and that my heart beats in tune with the Source of Divine Creativity.

Zebra caddisfly.
Turning the focus towards the islands interior, layer upon layer is teeming with life. Grackles work the gravel banks that form and reform with the seasons. Yellow-throated vireos reside near the tops of towering silver maple and bigtooth aspen. Song sparrows and various warblers abound among the thick shrubby growth in-between. Zebra caddisflies seem to fill every bush and branch as well as the air in-between. Standing where gravelly shore transitions to shrubby edge the caddisflies land on me! They are attractive to my eyes and attractive to many a songbird's stomach! At present there are at least three broods of Baltimore orioles on Paines Island that are being sustained by a majority of these superabundant caddisflies!

Catalpa trees, scattered intermittently along Paines Island's east shore, are an accent of beauty. The elegant purple, yellow, and white blossoms adorn the trees and litter the ground beneath them. As I pass by I'm careful not to step on a single discarded flower. I know that ecologically it makes no difference if I step on them for they've already served their purpose; but it feels wrong to carelessly trample upon something so charming and delicate.

common grackles and a killdeer foraging among riffles.
This morning I met a muskrat with a look of extreme fear written across his face who startled me when he unknowingly ran straight in my direction to within three feet of where I sat.  While muskrats may not be an eagle's primary target, when a bald eagle's shadow is cast overhead this muskrat takes cover!

I met a white-tailed deer and her young fawn who seemed to be getting a guided tour of the island.

I met the green heron and the belted kingfisher who hang out in the same stretch of river but have no qualms with one another since the heron hunts along the shore and the kingfisher acquires her catch where the water gets deeper.

Muskrat, deer, heron, kingfisher, and so many others; I thank God for you.

Though there is work to be done, as I leave this special wild space, wherever I go today I'll carry the blessing of my wild neighbors at Paines Island in my heart.

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