Friday, May 08, 2009

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009. The best day I have spent outdoors. Ever.

- choked with emotion
verklemmt = emotionally inhibited in a convulsive way)

Yep. That was me.

Wednesday, April 29th dawned with rain. And a little more rain. And then it rained

(I'm not one to greet the sun with any sort of joy or rapture. The last time I was happy about sunrise was when I was 20 years old and had stayed up all night to "beat the dark". Anyone ever do that? Try it once. )

Destination: Muddlety

How to describe my One Perfect Day?
It was the company I was keeping. It was the rain. It was the birds. It was the forest.
Even being stuck in the back of a van with Little Miss Freakin' Ray of Sunshine, I was happy.

This happiness, by the end of the day, had reached spiritual proportions.

Being a nature girl all of my life, I have experienced moments of rapture in the woods. There is wonder around every corner, a new life to love hidden in every tree. April 29th was unlike anything I had previously known.

Was it especially birdy? Obviously, West Virginia is one of the better-kept secrets in the bird world. My first glimpse at a Cerulean Warbler, better looks at other warblers than I have ever had....A bird in every tree. Under every bush.
Example...ovenbirds. Every-Freakin-Place we stopped.

Was the company good? People I loved, people I hardly knew. And those I hardly knew, I now count as my friends.

Was the scenery beautiful? I thought so. I fell in love, actually.
It was being "selectively logged", so every five minutes, a huge tree would splinter apart, crash and die. (while answering the "call of nature", I happily mooned the loggers for breaking the beautiful silence)

(It wasn't until I got back home and started reading other blogs, that I found out that the site of my One Perfect Day will be soon be gone. Forever. I can't talk about the rage I feel.
Not yet

Did I find life in the leaf litter? Adult red-spotted newts,
Red spotted Newt

caterpillars who thought they were fierce.
Big inchworm roaring

I got to know British Solider lichen.
British soldier lichen

*Update...I forgot to talk about the bear!*

Did I see a bear (that large, hairy thing that I have a phobia about)? Yes. I was standing at the back of the van by myself and saw one running across the valley, thankfully in the opposite direction. I'm told that there is a new bird out there...the Susan Bird. The vocalization and display behavior of this species is this: Both arms out and pointing, the call goes, "Bear. BEar. BEAr. BEAR!! BEAR!!!!"
(Sung softly at first, with rising panic and terror delivered at the end)

I didn't faint or die from fright. That is something to be proud of.

I watched swallowtail butterflies, freshly minted, searching for a mate and a place to leave precious eggs.

My eyes were wet most of the day. I was verklempt.

I've been trying to explain that day to everyone who will listen, but my attempts have failed. That day changed me, and I can't change back.

I can't fully express the soaring joy in my heart that day. Humbled by the mountains and the moss and the memories, I can only turn my thoughts to when I can go back.

Holding my hand (red eft)
Connection with Nature...
(Red Eft, terrestrial juvenile stage of the Red-Spotted Newt...tiny hand on my finger, huge grip on my heart)


Lynne said...

That was indeed a very special day and your joy was palpable.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Blogger nina at Nature Remains. said...

I love this, Susan--partly because I share the memory of that place in much the same way, and party because I'm thrilled to see such a lowly creeping creature capturing one heart after another.

Isn't he lovely?
In his 4-toed magnificent way!!

KatDoc said...

I can attest to the fact that I have NEVER seen Susan so happy, so excited, so *verklempt* as she was the day she came back from that trip.

And she didn't even mention the bear.

(Call of the Native Susan Bird: "bear-Bear_BEar-BEAr-BEAR-BEAR!")


Beth said...

Susan, I'm sorry I wasn't on this trip with you - it sounds wonderful. And I loved that the eft touched your heart.


Anonymous said...

I remember how happy you were after that trip. We were all happier just for being around you then.

Susan Gets Native said...

Added the Bear Thing. Can't BELIEVE I forgot to put that in.

KGMom said...

Such a neat post--and everyone should be verklempt by nature. Perhaps then we would not ALLOW mountain top mining.
You and Stephen Colbert with the bears. I like bears. True--I have NEVER seen one in the wild.

T.R. said...

Spectacularly appropriate sentiments - you've nailed them. This is what New River was all about: aching beauty, speechless, humbled, giddy, breathtaking - all wrapped in one. Throw in 17 like-minded bloggers to enjoy it with and you have one hell of a lifer.

Mary said...

You did shine that day, Susan. Even as a passenger next to Ms. Sunshine.

I'll never forget Muddlety and my groaning around those hairpin turns on the mountainside.

You express the beauty of it all so perfectly.

RuthieJ said...

I've never seen a red eft. I hope this beautiful piece of West Virginia heaven is still there when I finally get a chance to experience this festival.

Gallicissa said...

"selectively logged"
Canadians once came here on invitation in the 70's and did the same in our Sinharaja rain forest. What they actually did was clear felling thousands of hectares of old-growth rainforests.

Kallen305 said...

I can only imagine how wonderful it was Susan. Seeing all of the pics and write ups on various blogs has been so much fun.

LOL about the Susan bird!

jalynn01 said...

Hi Susan,
Yes WV is as they say Wild and wonderful and beautiful and full of the mysteries and secrets to be explored and enjoyed. I thank God for creating a plethora of bountiful nature for us to enjoy!!
By the way you commented that Keith did NOT give you cookies (they weren't really homemade) but instead you got TP. Well in some instances I would take the TP over a cookie! haha I am so enjoying reading all the blogs and the different takes on the trip!

NatureWoman said...

WAIT!!! WHAT??? O.M.G. You. saw. British. soldier. lichen. You are my hero. I mean, not that you weren't before, but this is just simply awesome!!! I wanna see it, too!

And a BEAR? Oh man.

Kathiesbirds said...

I love your new word! May I borrow it sometime? This is a well written post Susan. You almost waxed poetic!

BTW, I saw the photo of KatDoc and I in the hottub somewhere on this blog, you sly little devil you! :)

Heather said...

Susan, I'm really enjoying reading about your time at New River, but this post has touched me the most. Your excitement and... verklemptness just jumps off the proverbial page. I'm glad you had such a profoundly wonderful time!