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At the Edge of the Lake

July 16, 2010

It’s sometimes hard to return to the valley. The mountains are cool and lovely, ablaze in the evening sun as their siren song floats on the breeze. Their incense of spruce and fir teases from above. But I’ve neglected the marshes and nature’s clock is ticking. Soon many birds, all too recently arrived, will heed the call of earth and sun and return to their winter homes.

After slumbering for months, the wetlands at the edge of the lake are now so very changed. The earth smells alive. As I stroll down the path I drink in the music of life and love and dispute. Meadowlarks sing and a pheasant crows. A heron croaks in surprise. Blackbirds whistle and western kingbirds scold everyone, even each other. A common yellowthroat calls and goldfinches titter overhead. The grunts of aVirginia rail come from the nearby cattails. A pond at the lake’s edge, frozen all winter, forlorn all of spring, is teeming with birds. American white pelicans dominate but they share their water with stilts, avocets, gulls, terns, and waterfowl. A pair of osprey occupies a nest platform with their twins. The young are nearly as large and well-feathered as their parents, but not quite. One adult daintily tears small pieces from the fish clenched in its talons and delicately feeds one of its young, and then the other, again and again. The other adult perches on the edge of the platform, keeping a wary eye on the rest of the world. The air is warm and pleasant, surprisingly free of mosquitoes. The sun slumps in the west and the shadows lengthen. The mountains watch from a distance, unconcerned by my faithlessness, and wait for me to come home.

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