Religious naturalists bear an attitude of reverence toward the universe as a whole, and toward the earth in particular – and they are disposed to expressing their reverence by affirming that nature is both sacred and mysterious. Naturalists are keenly aware of the contingency of all life forms, and when this awareness is taken to heart it generates a sense of gratitude toward nature.
~ Loyal Rue
M and I went hiking again last weekend. We went to Pocomoke River State Park to visit the bald cypress trees, the river, the paths through the woods. It was unseasonably warm and we both overdressed for the occasion. Fortunately, we also layered. I think we had both stripped down to short-sleeved t-shirt level halfway through our hike.
There are two sections of Pocomoke River State Park, one on either side of the Pocomoke River: Shad Landing (on the south bank of the river) and Milburn Landing (on the north bank). We originally set out for Milburn Landing but found the road closed. That meant a not-short drive over to the other side. What makes the drive not-short is that you have to find a place to cross the river, and there aren’t many crossings. We happened upon a park ranger when we arrived at Shad Landing and asked about the closure. She said that it’s a seasonal closing (closed for the winter). I’m not positive but I think that might be a new policy. I seem to recall hiking that area during the winter in the past.
There are places to park and entries to some of the trails on the Milburn Landing side that don’t require you to enter the park on the main road. However, it was the last weekend of white-tailed deer hunting with firearms. There is no hunting within the park boundaries, but there is hunting allowed in surrounding areas. We erred on the side of safety, mostly because sometimes the maps are not exactly clear about the boundaries (or our following of the maps is not exactly clear — we’ve been known to wander off where we thought we were).
As I was sorting through the photos I took, I realized that one of the things I love about winter are the textures and outlines (bones of trees and shrubs, the lines of the landscape). The crunchiness of leaves on the ground or the cushiony padding of pine needles, the roughness of the bark on the trees, the bareness of the tree branches, the sliminess of the mud in the swamps or along the river, are all things you can take in with your eyes, the camera, or if you’re willing, with touch. Spring and summer tend to soften the landscape and hide many of the underlying lines and textures.
The care of rivers is not a question of rivers but of the human heart.
~ Shozo Tanaka
Pocomoke River State Park lies within the Great Cypress Swamp. There is archaeological evidence to suggest that the Pocomoke River’s first inhabitants were living there more than 10,000 years ago. Giovanni Verrazano was one of the first Europeans to explore the river in 1524. Bald cypress trees were harvested (over-harvested) in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The swamp was a link in the Underground Railroad. It was also the home of bootleggers and smugglers who found it attractive because it was difficult for the law to track them down in a swamp.
In the 1930’s, there was a peat fire in some of the forest that lasted for eight months and destroyed most of the plant life. What didn’t burn was almost completely timbered when the federal government began buying up the land. The state of Maryland took control in the 1950’s, and in the 1960’s the park was established and the land within the park protected. It is said that some of the trees along the river are approximately 100 years old.
We hiked a little over three miles, most of it on the trails that run between the various campsites throughout the Shad Landing side of the park. We passed amenities I didn’t know were there (a pool, a sports field set up for volleyball, soccer, and baseball, cabins). Usually when we visit the Shad Landing side of the park, we hike the Trail of Change. I’ve posted about it several times, one of the earliest posts in October of 2013, A walk in the swamp.
Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.
~ N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain
After our hike we went to Berlin (Maryland, of course) where we ate lunch and picked up dessert from a little bakery named Baked. My Silent Sunday post was a picture of their white chocolate mousse, and it tasted as good as it looked. Maybe better.
That’s about enough from me today. Life has picked up again since the holidays ended. The yoga class has been deep and intense while we dive into subjects such as cultural appropriation, white privilege, and spirituality. Our little Keep America Beautiful affiliate has finally gotten to the action or materialization stage in which we can start bringing our plans to life. And I’ll be spending some time with friends soon. I will be free this evening so let’s meet out at the Point to see what gifts the sunset has to offer. Sunset is scheduled for 5:09 PM. Bundle up. It is quite chilly with gusty winds that slice right through you. We did have snow in the forecast for tomorrow, but that’s looking less likely. Temperatures might be too warm (above freezing) by the time the precipitation arrives. If we’re lucky, perhaps today’s colder temps and wind will have helped to make some interesting ice formations that will glow with the light of the setting sun.
Be good, be kind, be love. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,226) Hikes in the woods and along the river. 1,227) The lines and textures of the winter landscape. 1,228) The colors of winter. There are more than you might think. All you have to do is get outside and look. 1,229) Veggie burgers for lunch. 1,230) Learning, so many many things, in the Yoga Darsana class. That said, I did appreciate the break during the holiday. It gave me time to let things settle, and to explore some of the things I’ve been learning.
One Million Step challenge update: I’m sorry to say I’ve problems with my right knee and had to put this on pause. I am still taking walks — slow and short — a couple of times a day, but I’m not counting steps again until my knee is ready. I paused at 141,885 steps on Day 15. I’ll pick up from there, probably sometime this week.