Above: Cattails along the edge of the pond, October 21, 2016
Familiar places can be magical sometimes. For me, yesterday (2/21/2017) the familiar place turned magical was a clump of cattails on the edge of the pond in the forest preserve. The pond itself is a quiet, beautiful spot, where there is always something to see at any season of the year.
In summer, the pond’s edge is alive with frogs that kerplunk into the water as I go past. Although I’ve tried, I’ve never been fast enough with my camera to catch a frog in a photo. I’ve had better luck with herons. (Addendum–see frog photo below!)
In winter, the pond is ice-covered.
A couple of years ago, the cattail clump held a surprise for me. The snake photo dates from May 4, 2015. I’m no wildlife photographer, so you have to use your imagination to see the hidden snake. But I stood entranced watching it from just a few feet away. We didn’t have big snakes like that in Seattle, where I grew up. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has an informative identification website, and looking through the photos there, I’ll guess “my” snake was a northern water snake, but whatever its name, it was a treat to see.
Yesterday (2/21/2017), the same cattail clump was again showing me its magic. As I approached, my impression was that the cattails looked rather “end-of-winter” ratty. The grass several feet out from the bank was trampled revealing dark muddy soil underneath. I thought the damage was caused by people or maybe by the Canadian geese. Then I spotted a muskrat! I’d never seen one up close before. There were actually two muskrats, and they put on quite a show, diving in and out of the cattails, and periodically running out on the bank for a nibble of grass.
A frog in the cattails, May 31, 2017
Tadpoles in the pond, April 28, 2017. I recorded a short piece about tadpoles for the 49th volume of the short nonfiction collection.