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Solstice Celebration

Saturday, June 27, 2020

I took a celebratory walk down the entire road, a total of 3 miles down and 3 miles back up, on June 21. I was celebrating the Summer Solstice, and it was going to be a scorcher, so I started well before sunrise in the cool of the night. I wanted to be in the arms of Dean's Fork when the sun came up on the longest day of the year. It had been so hard to come by, this feeling of peace. The boot was always hanging over my head, ready to drop. The thought that the next time I visited, the beavers might have been shot and their dam ripped out again made going on my favorite hike a proposition fraught with anxiety. I never took a whole breath until, peeking through the shrubs and trees, I saw water where it should be.

And I could believe it would all still be there when I came to see it.

The reflections on the water, the sun coming through fresh leaves, the songs of thrushes and catbirds all around. The sweet warm breath of June, wafting across awakening meadows. The insect choir.
The first Rosa carolina smiling from the moist ditches, their scent pure attar of rose, the scent that sends me through the weeds and down to my knees to inhale it.

My boon companion by my side, or more properly pulling me along. Constantly reminding him not to pull, occasionally having to put the lead on the clip on his chest (It's the Walk Right front connect harness, and it's great). He hasn't learned not to pull because I praise him when he pulls me up the hills. The same thing that helps on hills annoys me on a straightaway. Any dog would be confused.

He's on a lead because there are just too many temptations for a ramblin' man on Dean's Fork. 
The chitter of chipmunks, the sudden thumps and windy cries of deer...all would take him down their trails.

The apports kept coming on this auspicious day. My third barred owl feather of the spring, not far from where I found the belly feather on our last trip. This is probably a primary covert--a very stout long shaft on a short strong feather. This feather is rooted in the fused finger bones of the owl. That one pale spot on the vane says barred owl, as does the cool umber-brown color. You can't feel it, but the whole thing is very soft and downy. That's how I knew it was an owl feather--that and the large size. Stoutness of shaft tells you a lot. It tells you how big the bird was, and where on the bird the feather came from.

I had already figured out through concerted Chimping and staring at it that this was a barred owl primary covert, but it was fun to get confirmation from this photo from the Rouge River Bird Observatory blog.

See the feathers the bander's thumb is on? Those are the primary coverts.  Thanks, Rouge River Bird Observatory! And thanks to whomever tossed that feather down in my path. Dean's Fork is rich in spirit. It's always leaving messages for me to find. And today, I was ringing like a struck bell, open to the joy, because I finally felt I'd been able to accomplish something here.

I walked on farther and found a clump of fur in the road. Now that was interesting. 

I feel I have a few choices here: fox, coyote or bobcat. The hair is wavy, but not crimped, which makes me lean away from canid and toward bobcat. There are no obvious guard hairs, which also makes me lean felid. The gentle tawny color sure works for bobcat too. I rubbed it between my fingers and was reminded of the one and only time I'd ever touched a bobcat--the kitten I took in for a brief time. Its fur had a dense, wooly hand--without the filmy silkiness of domestic cat fur-- that surprised me. 

I found this clump of hair in a stretch where, in favorable conditions, I almost always find bobcat tracks. I've tucked it in my little deerskin pouch with its bit of wool from Miracle, the white bison in Jamestown, ND. It has power I can feel, the kind of power I need. 

My Solstice beaverdam celebratory shirt: I BELIEVE. Empowered. Badass bunny hugger.

As it always does when I turn around on a sunny morning, Dean's knocked me flat. Oh what will I do when that black barn falls down? Photograph its ruins, I suppose. I hope it stands forever, or at least outlives me. Slate roof, swaybacked but still solid. Big brown bats within: poopin' up a pile. 

The yarrow is out today, and the yellow sweet clover. 

But the sweetest surprise of this solstice day was running into Brad and Becky and their three youngun's, who flew and drove great distances to be with their dad on Father's Day. Brad and Becky are well-known naturalists in Marietta. And here they were, come to see the beaver pond on Dean's Fork. This was a first for me. I've never run into another naturalist here unless it was pre-arranged, usually by me. 

I was so amazed I asked if I could take their photo. And it made a pretty nice family Father's Day portrait!

I had to ask how this wonderful family knew to come here. Well, they'd found out about it via my blog! That made me so happy. Dean's Fork needs love from people who care, who won't toss beer cans, dump their gutted deer carcasses (yeah, I see what you do), poach, or rip up the road "muddin'." Ugh. To that end, I talk to everyone I see here, if they'll talk to me. That's how you build community, how you let them know you're watching.

When I got home, I saw the first chicory opening by my mailbox.
Stop, June! It's all too beautiful.


Channeling Jackson again, I see.

Just leavin' lil Easter Eggs for my music pals, @David W. Sanders. :)

Curtis is smart enough to learn to pull on the command "hill" and to stop pulling on the word "flat". Perhaps he would prefer different words. Also, for my sake, please keep up the writing and the most beautiful photos, but stop picking up dirty stuff. Smiling. Your blog brings light to my life.

You deserve some halcyon days, Julie! Cheers!

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