Background Switcher (Hidden)

A Walk at the Equinox

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I didn't mean to mark the vernal equinox. I just got up early and headed out, as I do most mornings, because that's all I really want to do any more--go out. I go out into the fields and find my friends.

You can look at the time stamp on this photo of the moon setting and there it is, 6:29 AM March 20, 2017. At the exact moment of the vernal equinox, I was standing in the driveway with the rising sun before me and the setting moon off to the south. And I thought, man, it doesn't get any better than this, that sun throwing pink and tangerine around to the east and the moon slipping down in sherbert lavender, way over there, to the south. What is it doing over there? Will you look at that! So I took a photo of it, not knowing that I was recording the equinox moonset, the exact moment of the day that night is equal.

And that's how I know there is something watching over me, something rich in magic. It guides me like a Tickle Bee, so I show up for the moments I need to experience. 

7:19 AM, March 20. The meadow is aglow. I know the cloud cover will soon coalesce and close over again. That's mornings in March, and one reason I get up and out. If I'm to have only one audience with the sun, let it be as it rises.

I also get out because I need to get my poo-mail. Bobcat, very fresh. Oh yes, very fresh and shiny.

Wild turkey, fresh, too. There's corn nearby, so there are deer and turkey and bobcats too.

I walked another 20 minutes and found some deer, but they caught my scent first and all I saw was white flags waving and the tha-dunk of heavy hooves on duff. I much prefer to spot them first. 

I see this older buck most mornings. I haven't named him, but I know him to see him. He is one to stand still and watch me from behind the trees. He is very savvy, and knows how to duck behind trunks and drop below slopes to avoid being seen. By now it was 6:50 and I was well into my morning.

I lingered around the far haymeadow, the one with the sweeping curves, for another hour or so, watching whatever came my way. By now the sun had that quality of coming from under a low lid. I knew it would soon disappear for the day, as it seems to always do in an Ohio Valley winter. But for now, this first day of spring, it was raking across the greening winter wheat, and I was soaking up as much as I could.

Laughing, crazy, over the field came two pileated woodpeckers, one passing like a bullet through budding branches. I love how these big birds fly, powering so hard, then gliding, wings closed to their startlingly light bodies, cutting the air like the head of a javelin. Reveling, I know, in the surety of their passage, propelled by a few powerful wingbeats, then cut loose to coast.


I know they must enjoy themselves because they laugh the whole way. I thought about the one road-killed pileated I'd picked up, fresh, and I remember it was like picking up a plastic beer stein. It's got you fooled, looking like it would be heavy as leaded glass. I remember thinking, "Why, there's nothing at all to it. It's all wing, a little muscle holding them together."

By 8:01 I had walked all the way back home to find Pinky and Flag just visible out in the pale little bluestem, that's fading so fast with spring sun. Look closely, and click on the photos to see them well.

Their coats are fading, too, soon to drop and be replaced with summer red. I am looking forward to that.

I messed around back at the house, getting ready to go to town to run a bunch of errands, to reprovision after being gone for a week. Chet needed a vet visit, too. So I packed him in the car and headed out the driveway, only to find a bundle of black and white rags snuffling around in the meadow. I turned around by the mailbox and headed right back to the studio for my big camera. I will not miss playing with a skunk. My errands could wait.

I've been playing with skunks lately. There are so many skunks this year.  This makes me happy, as I adore them. I asked Phoebe why there might be an overabundance of skunks this spring. Her eyes flew open wide and not missing a beat she answered "Cicadas!" I knew then that the magic passes through this child, too, straight from the equinox moon and into her marvelous mind.  This one who, when she was about 6, pulled me out to see a silvery checkerspot butterfly because it was "diffwent fwom the pearl cwescent." Yes, of course, she's got it. Turkeys, bobcats, skunks...all bred and raised on the great bounty of periodical cicadas that rose up and then rained down on us with clattering wings last spring. 

Skunks are peaceful creatures. They eat when they're hungry. They don't look at their watches. 

Skunks don't have to be wary. Their weapons are always ready.

And yet all they want to do is dig and eat and find other skunks to mate with. The last thing they want to do is stink the place up. I respect skunks, but I don't fear them at all.

I creep closer, staying low. Soon enough the skunk comes to, sensing me near. Smelling me, most likely, for they don't use their eyes much, and they seem not to pay much attention to soft footfalls drawing near. He sniffed the air.

And he looked right at me. Please click on the photo, and admire the white base of each tail hair, something I hadn't seen before. He's fancy!

And with that, he trundled into the nearby woods, wanting only to celebrate the Equinox alone. Not even knowing what I was celebrating, I'd done the same.

Get out there. It's all waiting for you.


What a wonderful image! A trundling bundle of black and white rags-- that'll be in my mind every time I see a skunk (also known as a shunk in my family).

These photos are amazing.

A few miles north I was out at the same time driving to my favorite sunrise spot. It was supposed to be a cloudy, stormy day but it seemed there could be a littttttle break in the clouds around sunrise so I headed out. There was a slight slivered break in the clouds for one of the most otherworldly vividly fuchsia, purple, a bit gold, and then scarlet sunrises I have ever seen. My time stamp for the photo says 9-26-14 at 11:36 PM so you have inspired me in yet another way, to take the four seconds to fix that that I've never been bothered to do :)
I hadn't ever seen beauty in a skunk until you posted about them last summer. That next morning I came upon one and looked closely. I have so much of your blog to catch up on and am looking forward to it! I came here this morning actually to look for any entries on Brown Creepers. Your description of woodland fairies is so fitting! I have one that has been hanging around the trees by my kitchen and just love watching his/her fastidious scaling of the trees over and over.

I've decided that the skunk looks like a possom' in disguise! Look at that nice face you got! I live way up north in Medina County and had a skunk cross the trail right behind me a few days ago. The ground was still partially snow covered and it was in the 30's. He didn't even stop to look, but wasn't in a big hurry either. Seldom have I ever seen one in the daytime!

I've always thought skunks were beautiful creatures.

Love the odor of skunk! Roadkills which are frequent this time of year fill my car will " perfume". I've read only a few appreciate this odor!

We love that you get out for us when we can't...

Admire and appreciate the photos and story, as always. And the last photo - precious! Thanks for heading out and reporting in. I've discovered I have a Zick Blog Post addiction and also wonder how you are. Felt so relieved to get this post. Thank you. Kim in PA

[Back to Top]