Have you seen my lady? She lies sleeping now in the chill of winter.
|My Lady in Winter
My Lady lies moody in her deep winter sleep. Beneath the pale grey, somber skies, Crest Lake lies, a darker shade of slate grey, as the winter breezes tease up small ripples on her surface.
I take my usual walk around the water's edge, observing the communities that guard her bed. Even in winter, as the temperature drops to forty degrees Fahrenheit and the drying winds blow, the park around the lake is a bird’s paradise.
A convention of white seagulls, blown inland by the stronger ocean winds, crowd quietly at one end of the lake. An occasional piercing screech of the herring gull punctuated by the “ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaa, haaaaa, haaa” cackle of the laughing gull breaks their silent meditation and causes me to chuckle.
At the edge of the seagull flock, two white ibis with long, curved, orange beaks strut near the water’s edge, looking for tidbits of food to come wiggling to the surface of the underwater sediment. They remind me of little, old ladies working the ground with darning needles as they poke here and there.
Tall sycamore trees stand nearby - like bleached white skeletons - raising bony arms to the sky, offering gifts of brown leaves that quiver like dried skin rustling in the breeze. Red-winged blackbirds, flashing their red wing stripe, congregate in the branches overhead and yodel with joy as they gossip about the summer just spent further north. Blackbirds and blue jays add their raucous songs to celebrate the reunion.
Occasionally, the black moorhen, with its brilliant red-crested head, sends out high-pitched laughter to mock the laughing gull. Nearby, a black coot dives for food deeper in the lake, popping up now and again to check out the locale and to get its bearings.
I spot the secret nest high in the treetop, now exposed in the naked branches and lying vacant until spring brings residents back to cheer its walls. Below, on a branch jutting into the water, an anhinga sits with black wings outspread to dry before he dives again to search the lake bottom for unwary fish.
The lake stirs, restless in its sleep, and from deep within its bosom, the turtles struggle up to the surface, poking their noses into the air to taste the wind to see if the temperature is right for sunbathing. Discouraged, they dive below again with a subtle splash. On warmer days, I have seen them balance precariously on half-submerged, fallen branches of the nearby trees to warm themselves in the sun. Various types of fish also hide within the murky depths, as do frogs and other freshwater creatures. I am reminded of them by little splashes, as they surface occasionally to break the monotonous rippling of the lake.
Scampering squirrels venture down from trees. They forage in the remaining green grass for bits of nuts and seeds scattered by the elderly woman as she took her daily morning walk from her Florida retirement home.
Passing the dog park at the far south end of the lake, I marvel at the floppy, white petals of the iris, accented by purple centers, which insist on blooming even in February. The willows, sinking their roots beneath the lake’s bed, also send forth early yellow catkins and lime green baby-leaves from tiny, bursting buds.
As I walk, the breeze brushes, cool and thirsty, against my cheeks and lips, tasting a bit like the ocean a couple of miles away, and the water laps at the lake’s edge where dry brown and yellow leaves laced a border as they fell.
Still, the lake slumbers, but somewhere deep within its breast stirs the muse of the lake to tap me gently on the shoulder.
Crest Lake – even in winter, as you lie beautiful and moody, you are companioned by wildlife. And, even in your sleep, you touch the many passersby that jog or walk the path around your bed for exercise or in meditation, and you instill a healing quietude as a respite from the week’s dreary work.