Yesterday I walked around the Tow Hill portion of State Game Land 176 in Centre County, PA with my friend L., who lives nearby. This is a geologically, botanically and historically unique area – a former iron mining town now reverted to woods and barrens. The Tow Hill portion is crossed by a large powerline and dotted with small ponds, some occupying former mine pits, others made by beavers. It was a spectacular day to be out in the woods.
The buds open on the oak trees: yellow-green flowers, yellow-green leaves the size of squirrels’ ears & equally full of buzzy warbler voices. Warblers sound like what they eat, hard on the outside, liquid on the inside, segmented, brief – sing it! – cerulean, black-throated green, black-throated blue.
Just as the leaves open, the caterpillars pitch their tents. Power lines whistle a thin & hungry tune from bare metal trees.
Moth and rust don’t corrupt, they beautify. Some hunter thought this slab of old metal was worth leaning against a tree beside the trail for others to see. It’s trying to become a window, perhaps, one corrosive raindrop at a time.
A window? No, more like the obverse of a periscope. The sun sits on the surface of the murky pond like a glass-bottomed boat.
Strange fruit: a dry, rusted-through bucket hangs in a tree. If this were the American Southwest, we’d know what to make of the bullet holes: it’s been killed, we’d say, so its dead owner won’t come looking for it. Who knows when you might need to carry a little more sky?
Skunk cabbages space themselves as if they’d been planted by some self-effacing green thumb. The drama of their blooming long over, they spread their sails for home in the rust-colored mud.