This morning the light was as fine as silk, so that upon waking I leaned into the windowsill magnetically, stretching toward the soft yellow rays by instinct. And though two essays waited, not even a first line put onto the page, I swapped my slippers for boots and went to where I knew the light would be the sweetest.
Ballew fields and the entrance of Wildflower Cove.
The gravel road opposite where I live, on the west side of the South Toe River, serves as a main artery for community “traffic,” though that never really means seeing more than three or four cars at once. But beyond the camp, beyond the turn for Silver Cove, beyond the stop gate and Little White Oak Creek (where I parked my car), beyond Shingle Pile Creek, and past the No Tresspassing sign and the abandoned farm equipment, the road peters out and is rarely used. Only a few cabins are hidden back this far, marked by the occasional “driveway” or more noticeably, a meter for an underground phone line.
The fields were overgrown with dangling, tall, yellow flowers and similarly tall, white blossoms that bloomed in the formation of distant fireworks. Sedges poked outward at all angles, nestling at fence posts and clustered between ruts and footpaths. Un-mowed grasses sagged with dew and a thin, white veil hung a few feet above the fields, slowly evaporating into the day. The veil undulated and seemed to breath, illuminated by the unfiltered light pouring from the east, over the top of Seven Mile Ridge.
The sounds of Ballew fields waking up were magnificent. A downy woodpecker humbly tapping into an oak snag. The syllabic call of a pileated woodpecker in the distance. The soft sifting of towhees on the ground. The quick flap of a female cardinal right in front of the path. And more pronounced, the loud, snapping, hustle of two grouse that were startled by my approach.
I wore my work clothes on my walk, to guarantee that I would pace myself, moving slowly and quietly. I knew I wouldn’t want to work up a sweat and have to change before work, but I also knew my tendency to push myself and whiz past nature’s gifts at trailside. The work clothes were insurance that I’d take my time, and that I did.
The sunlight. Such a simple gift. And it is given to us. Everyday. Asking nothing in return.