Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Evening Reverie at the Swamp

1. Swamp-kab Stirling Swamp

It rained all day today and I have been inside sitting like a lump in my chair and watching TV. I feel the laziness in my legs and bones. I feel the need to move. The rain has faded away leaving a foggy mist outside. I see the damp grayness through the window and yet l feel the need to be out there. I feel the need to move. I shake the inertia away and pull on my sneakers, sweater, coat, jacket, gloves. I sling my bins around my deck and step out the door.

The dampness meets my face as I walk out as the sound of robins trilling fills my ears. In the still bare woods a light green mist is forming as a few tiny leave emerge on brush. The tall trees overhead are budding out, some in fine red and some in tender green. I walk across the soggy grass to the pavement and point myself towards the bog. It’s really not a bog I guess, though that is what I have been calling it since I moved here. It is a swamp and it certainly looks like one now as it is flooded with water. Everything is bathed in a soft gray light, muted and fuzzy with no sharp lines. Overhead tall oaks and maples tower along with a few eastern white pines. Manicured lawns roll up to old New England homes and inside some of them I can see the lights of the other TV’s flickering as I walk by.

2. grackles-kab

It is peaceful out here on my way to the swamp. Though I am in a town, I feel alone and almost remote in my solitude. I am not lonely; I feel peaceful. It is after 7 o’clock and though I cannot see the sun, I know that it has set. There is little light left to this day and I mean to take advantage of what is left. I hear Blue Jays calling as I walk along, a sound so familiar to me from the years I have lived in New England before. I have been away for over 6 years until moving back last fall and now all these familiar sights and sound seem somehow comforting.

3. goose on nest-kab 

As I near the swamp I can see it shimmering through the pines like pewter glass. It is so calm! In this light all the stumps are dark as iron and blunt edged. There is no greenery here as of yet. Last year’s reeds and cattails lie damp and brown against the ground matted and bent and old. A few red-winged blackbirds call from the swamp and in the dead trees I see a small flock of grackles. I scan the water for ducks and geese but find only one goose on the nest and another feeding placidly amidst the stumps. Across the street from the swamp another goose feeds on a neighbor’s lawn. I stand at this quiet edge of life. I feel the stillness here. I have seen this swamp so alive with life and birds that I did not know where to look first, but tonight all is tranquil and serene. It feels like another world.

A lone crow flies out from the south end of the bog, cawing as it rows across the silver sky with its powerful wings. It lands atop a tall dead tree at the edge of the woods and looks out across the world like a king in his kingdom. But he is not the king to me. I think he is a sentinel, a security guard. He watches over the swamp. He and his companions sound the alarm when there is danger and drive the hawks away. I have seen them do this. I like the crows.

The light continues to fade. Soon the manmade lights in the apartment building beyond come on and shine like gold on the still waters. Fog continues to build softening and muting everything until I feel like I am standing on the edge of a monochromatic water-colored painting. It is as if someone has let the water run down the paper bleeding one tone into the other and I feel as if I may bleed and blend in with it all and be absorbed.

4. water-colored-kab

At the very edge of darkness the peep frogs start to sing; first one, then another, then the whole chorus. There can be no choir in heaven more beautiful than this sound, this renewing sound of spring. There are no flowers here in the swamp. I have not seen the new green shoots pushing up through the dead reeds yet. But I know there are there. I know there are coming. I know there is renewal just beneath the surface and just around the corner. I swallow this moment and turn away to walk back to my apartment serenaded by peepers and robins as darkness falls. I know tomorrow a New Light will dawn.


  1. Another mood of the bog. What a marvelous place to find sanctuary and calm. Glad you can get out of the house now, no matter the weather. Hugs!

  2. Thank you Kathie for the comment and kind words, I very much appreciate them. I was not aware of Edwin Way Teale, but now I will keep an eye out for his works. Please let me return the favor. One of my favorite authors whom you might be familiar with is Anne LaBastille. While she has written many books and articles, I highly recommend you start with “Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness”.

    By the way, I have been following you for a little while now. I like the fact that you have wonderful photography and that you are able to describe what you are seeing (I am envious).
    Happy Easter!!!



Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.