The sun wasn’t up yet. Twilight lingered, but the trees outside the window were taking shape against a brightening sky. Suddenly, I needed to be in the woods, feeling the earth under my feet, listening for the barred owls calling, smelling the musky freshness of wet mud, greeting the day with wild things. In less than 10 minutes we were out of bed, tea and coffee in hand, heading to Mason Farm Preserve.
The sun was just coming over the treeline as we arrived, only one other car in the lot! The dew was thick as sweat on an August day, lining every spider web with beads of condensation.
The early birds were singing and perching on the tallest twigs they could find in the meadows – a beautiful Common yellowthroat, an Indigo bunting, a Prairie warbler. The sundrops were still closed up, awaiting the warmth of the sun to encourage them to open to their fullness, but the Barbara’s buttons were not shy, showing off their pinkish white disks.
Comma and question mark butterflies flitted about as the sun rose higher. Common whitetail and Great blue skimmer dragonflies went about their morning searching for mosquitoes and other flying prey. A barred owl called, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”
We scanned the mud, creek, and wet spots for snakes. None found today, but a few turtles did pop above the surface of the water to sneak a peek at us. The canopy erupted in bird chatter, and we spotted a red-eyed vireo calling “Here I am, Where are you?”. Then a larger bird caught my eye and with my binoculars I could see its yellow bill and long, boldly spotted tail – a yellow-billed cuckoo out hunting for tent caterpillars, perhaps, or maybe the ripening mulberries we stopped to snack on along the trail.
Here, as the day dawned, all felt right with the world. I breathed it all in, thanking each plant and animal for being here, for being wild, for being my best teachers, always. I can think of no better way to start the day.