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Volume XVII, Issue 50 ~ December 10 - December 16, 2009

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Earth Journal

by Gary Pendleton

December’s Gifts

The grace of stalwart little creatures

It might have been a winter wren that flitted from the roadside to the culvert that carries Pindell Creek under a road at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary on a refreshingly cold December morning. At least it is nice to think it was.

It was a good thought to have as I started an hour-long meander on the trail that gets its name for the bluffs that rise above the waterway as it unwinds its form and delivers a steady flow to the Patuxent about a mile away.

There were few if any crows that morning, but as I walked a skein of geese took the crows’ path above the trees toward the river.

It is my opinion, just my opinion, that Southern Anne Arundel County has some of the biggest trees in the state, though they are not to be found on this trail. Here are some big grandfathers, but otherwise the woods are mature, just that. The exception to woods is a stretch that goes through an old homestead, where the undergrowth is thick and full of invasive plants and abandoned artifacts. In spring, however, it is a good place to see wildflowers. It is an easy trail, there are vernal pools, pink-blooming azaleas and mountain laurels.

This December morning, I saw a redheaded woodpecker.

Eventually you come to a swamp and finally the river, at a place where native people lived. There might still be a few of the stone artifacts they left behind.

I am sharing something with you, a secret I guess, though not really. It is a place where I can go and rarely see another person. It is a place that enriches my life, but if you live in Anne Arundel County, you own it. Whatever, we must share because we all need a little enrichment right now.

We still live in an affluent nation, though decidedly less so now than a year ago. Places like the Pindell Bluff trail are among the riches that remain. Call it commonwealth.

Eventually I stumbled on what I came looking for: a flock of chickadees. In the cold, short days of December, I wanted to be in the presence of these stalwart little creatures that endure cold, rain and uncertainty with something like grace.

I can’t say that they are cheerful or happy; they are wild animals living out short and difficult lives. But they have enough energy and spirit left over to make one feel better, at least for a while, and that is something. It is something like a gift that we can share.