Huntley Meadows

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A bitter winter has died,
Though reluctantly,
And the lingering effect of ennui
Has decided to subside;
A pair of celebrants witness species
Of wildflowers, birds and beasties;
Dappled sun bursts in forest patches
And twining vines, flora and splashes
Of a muskrat and other animals.
Transiting birds warble calls
To their fellows, sweeping past masses
Of lengthening Spring grasses
To seek perches or lodges and minuet;
Brilliant body swatches silhouette
Against zigzagging streams;
Banks of flowers; greens
Of growth, painting pulsing scenes.

Tracing out our paths
On snaking refuge walkways
While marsh birds take baths,
And swallows and blue jays
Knife through the air,
Without apparent care
Or obvious fear, even drawing near
In laid-back atmosphere,
We consider how my final son
Labored here when young.
My companion is his brother;
Somehow it’s fitting he’s another
Admirer of the builder and how he lent
His talent to this monument.
Pondering its history and family link,
We can conclude, we think,
Even more enthralling is the panoply
Of wonders it tickets us to see.

Unleashing the power of our legs,
Our come-hither lumberway parallels eggs
Of patient Canada geese awaiting
Parenthood through incubating.
The wizened shell-bound
Progeny formulate on sun-warmed mounds
Or chisel out of jail under covers
Of soft blankets of their mothers.
We peer at a nester rising,
Maybe only exercising;
Up and down she elevates
And sporadically liberates
A pair of scampering goslings
Jostling in rings
Within their petite valley.
Mother goose doesn’t dally;
With a watchful frown,
She ensures her kids don’t roam
While she pecks and tidies their home
By re-arranging scattered down.

From around the side of a water block
Another matron guides her flock
Of tan small fuzz balls
In unruly formation, ten in all,
Out for a swim on a mirrored pond,
Evincing a slight chop from minute wakes.
She remains alert for their sakes,
Herding them off before they can stray
Into trouble as gander prey.

A unique bird comes into view,
For us it is brand new;
Statuesque, dieting awhile near a creek;
Lean, with a long, curved beak,
Footless in water, gaze locked on us.
It reflects a certain gravitas;
A beautiful and rare specimen,
According to a birder veteran
It had a certain zing, its exotic name,
And the bird impressed us as the same:
A glossy ibis, regal and black.
A loner, disdaining to join a pack.

A spectrum of birds dazzled the eye;
Some we recognized as they flew by;
Others we didn’t, prompting no regrets:
Ducks like mallards, great egrets
With spindled legs and stretched-out necks,
Kindled a curiosity effect;
Red-winged blackbirds and canaries
Hurtled, flashing ing over tributaries.
Floating along with easy grace,
In numerous clans or by the brace,
Were Canadas but no snow geese;
Honking and disturbing the peace;
Smack-landing, or lumbering into the sky.
We noticed others we could identify:
Great blue herons in lazy flight,
Huge wings majestic in sunlight.

We spied in a stream what resembled a rock,
But the stone moved, and then took stock
Of us with a leisurely tack;
We traced a head, and a muddy, hard back.
With deliberate decorum,
It turned turtle, true to form,
And took shelter in its retreat
To watery shadows under our feet.

A water world village appeared
In a small lake engineered
By eclectic achievers:
Cunning lumberjack beavers
Without modern tools
Or devices humans use--
Like raising funds through taxes--
Waded out munching with tooth-axes
To gnaw through thick trunks to shape
A stunning lake-and-landscape.
The experts hustled trees to make
Houses stand amid their lake;
Cone-like structures
Of branch and stuff, mud-mortar mixtures,
Ingeniously applied and melded
For families taught a trade by elders.
It was clear they were not shirkers
But we observed no furry workers;
Perhaps it was a lunchtime
Break; with setting sublime,
Environmentally pacific.
Around us were signs, though
Of work ethic terrific:
Triangular stumps, cut very low,
Tell the height of rodent jaws.
They chopped away with built-in saws
To cut and drop the heavy logs,
And clutch them out of swampy bogs
And haul them off to creek-side brinks.
Mind boggling, too, are their instincts.
How do they know
About flotation and flow
And measuring rain-filled streams
To fulfill their dreams
And set in place these tons of wood?
But there it stood:
A dike a hundred meters long,
Symmetrical and strong
And now considered complete,
Surrounding "Beavertown"; quite a feat.

I take some satisfaction
That my son, who’s now a man,
Had the skills and passion
Extended for a marvelous dam.