Just for a little bit of good cheer, especially in parts of the world that have not yet rounded the corner into spring, I bring you my neighborhood, right now. A week ago hardly any flowers were blooming, including on the trees.
Every few months, my husband and I try to arrange a short weekend away. The destinations are kind of random: Winchester, Virginia. Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Personally, I am happy to see anywhere. Usually. This month, we made reservations to stay in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in a region where my husband often vacationed with his family growing up. Despite being the off-season, it was quite crowded and overwhelming, with Shopping being a stronger vibe than Beach. So, after a quick lunch, still carrying our cups of coffee from the weird coffeehouse which was really a stealth real estate sales office, we escaped to Cape Henlopen State Park a few miles up the coast.
I had chosen the Salt Marsh Spur Trail (a 0.6-mile-each-way, straight-ish trail that dead-ends in the middle of a salt marsh) for two reasons: 1) it was short, and 2) salt marsh!!! Really, insert the word "marsh" into any place name and I will want to go there.
So we walked the Salt Marsh Spur Trail. Most of the way, we were actually surrounded by trees (scrubby pines and holly), so were unable to see any marsh. The "spur," you see, was a long mound of higher ground, tree-covered, that extended out into the marsh but was not itself marshy. In fact, the ground underfoot was made primarily of soft white sand. It was comfy to walk on, but there was not a lot of visibility. Also, the day was dark and chilly in the extreme. Still, the place was as quiet as it could possibly be (we saw only 3-4 other people the whole time), peaceful. It was quiet as far as animal life went, as well-- although informational signs told us it was a birdwatching paradise during migration periods, we saw only a couple of really large squirrels and a single heron.
Probably the highlight of my walk was when I stepped off the trail to pee in the shelter of a holly bush. There truly was no one around, so I did not worry too much about exposure. However, for modesty's sake, I did look for a little bit of cover, and found that the holly was much like the large laurels I remembered as a kid growing up in Western Massachusetts: it grows in a kind of welcoming hollow cave shape (wait, could that be why it's called holly? Not really.), and you can more or less go inside. Peeing aside, it was nice to be inside a tree again. They are similar also in having dark, glossy evergreen leaves, so you can go inside them even in the wintertime.
Eventually, we reached areas where the trees thinned and you could see the marsh between them. However, it is March. The cold marsh appeared as a fairly featureless expanse of brown grasses, with no visible (or audible) signs of life except, as mentioned, the one heron that flew up unexpectedly out of nowhere. Even this was pretty in its way, and miles better than strolling down the main drag in Rehoboth Beach, but I would have loved to see the transformation of green and birds and small critters that will surely have occurred by April.
Towards the end of the trail, I left husband standing around messing with his camera and taking the photographs you see here, while I (completist) walked down the last 1/10th of a mile by myself. The trail ended at a bench that looked out upon the exact same type of view as the last several benches, and a tiny sign that read "Trail ends here." Such an unassuming little trail. But isn't that what life is made up of, just a series of unassuming little trails? I discovered later that part of the Bike Loop in Cape Henlopen State Park actually serves as the beginning of the great American Discovery Trail, a hodge-podge of trails that crosses the entire continental U.S. end-to-end. Big is made of small.
But someday I'd like to go big.