Pulling out of the school drive Tuesday afternoon I notice the Bradford Pear blooming in our school woods. On impulse I pull onto Scenic Road, park on the shoulder. Grab my camera. Beep the doorlocks. And start pushing through the brush toward the invader.
But of course I can't stop here. This is the end of the campus where I haven't tried to extend our trail yet. I really should stop. But the hepatica and rue anenome that are past their prime on the upper trail, still bloom luxuriantly here.
The stream is a little bigger and still lovely down here.
I look at the flat area near the stream here. It might be a good place for a few picnic tables some day. The little white butterflies rarely pause in their search for nectar long enough for me to snap them. See the male with the yellow-tipped wings flying away as the female drinks at a toothwort.
I notice the pink plactic tape I've been seeing about has writing so I climb back up the bank to investigate. I am relieved to see there are boundaries to the lumber harvest. Maybe they won't mess up the woods that neighbor our stream and trail.
Back at the car I look again at the roads that diverge there. I had already taken the one less traveled by. If I kept the other for another day, I might never come back! Sheila is at work. Its 4:30. Why not spend another thirty minutes in the woods? Off I go.
This path is definely more frequently trodden. I round the first bend when a small truck with Ohio tags bounces down off the mountain past me. The air is the perfect spring temperature. There is a light breeze. I have sick friends and relatives to worry about. I have testing coming up next week. It's been a long day at school. What better way to wind down, let my mind calm itself, meditate, collect my thoughts, lift mine eyes unto Lavender Mountain, send a few prayers heavenward.
The little mountain road starts climbing and doesn't stop. And neither do I. I keep intending to turn around, but each curve demands I peek around it. The woods are lovely, a little dark and definitely deeper and deeper as I climb. Leafless hardwoods allow a full view of the lay of the steep as the ravines plunge toward Armuchee. In the distance I catch glimpses of the airport and the big Baptist church next to the new Armuchee ball fields where now someone switches on the lights.
Twice the road falls away for a city block or so, but mostly it relentlessly climbs. My cell phone display declares it to be five o'clock. I make a deal with myself to walk till five-thirty, then turn and retrace my steps. Ever the optimist, I figure I might even make it to the House of Dreams. Occasionally the still wintery-looking woods display a tree with tiny yellow-green leaves, or gold ones,
or the greenish-white immature "flowers" of the dogwood,
or deep pink/purple spray of redbud,
a primordial spread of moss,
or the brilliant flames of red maple samaras. If you get a close-up view of the red maple the clusters of samaras look like those double charged fireworks that have produced one big blast and now bunches of secondary blasts.
I find the dogwoods farther up the mountain in better bloom.
After another brief procrastination, and facing a downhill section that I would have to climb on the return if I continued, I turn around at 5:37. At 6:11 I am back at the car.
I wonder how far I have walked. Four miles. Maybe five?
Shoot why not see. Hoping I won't be arrested by campus rangers, I set the trip meter to zero and drive the Rav 4 up the trail. How could the landmarks from my walk pass so quickly? 1.6 miles! Only a little over three miles round trip! I certainly haven't set any land speed records have I? I know I stop to take a lot of pictures. I had tried to sneak up on three separate butterflies. I had climbed the bank to capture
some special bark,
a blooming apple?
a little white pine standing out so clearly with its darker foiliage and stairstep limb system,
Oh well, I was uphill! And the hill is the tallest in the county.