I see the yellow flash of his color. A moment later the American goldfinch serenades me to my right.
The foliage in the June woods seems to have reached its full summer growth in these woods by the Red River. The change from two weeks ago is amazing.
Two weeks ago this spot felt quite open. Now the foliage even somewhat obscures the river from where I sit.
Not so long ago I said this area looked like a war zone from the debris left by the river flood. Now the tall grass and the foliage have completely masked that appearance. It is a fit comparison. Nature’s foliage masks even the human devastation of a war zone. Hopefully our destructive power is not as great as we pretend it is.
Masks! What a word to be using in this day of virus invasions! Even I sit here today in the deep woods with a mask hanging around my neck, ready to be pulled up if I encounter another human. And all of these masks are because of a tiny living organism, possibly inside of me, that is so small that the human cannot see it with his or her eye, an organism that has radically cleansed the human-created toxic atmosphere over great cities in two months! As much as I am terrified by this little organism in nature, I stand in awe of it.
We are busy about the business of bringing this tiny organism under our control as we have sought to do with all other living creatures upon our planet, so that we can be the supreme being here. And, I suspect we will control it.
However, when we have controlled it and are free again to go back to our old ways, and to darken the skies once more over our great cities, and to multiply our plastic products and dump them into the sea, —when we are ready to do all this again, will we instead have learned some lessons?
Oh! Nature has just knocked me off my soapbox with a tremendous aerial display directly over my head against the blue sky, a display of a peregrine falcon with its dark body and white throat and back-swept wings. He sailed back and forth, not too high above and staying within the patch of sky visible through the overhanging elm branches. He is hunting, I suppose. What a show!
The chipping sparrow, with his rusty cap, has just darted into the tall grass 20 feet in front of me. He has the maddening habit when he first arrives in the spring of diving into the deep, deep grass out of sight and chipping away, driving you crazy wondering who is out there.
I caught the little chipper diving in, this time. Last week I caught him crawling down into a debris pile out of sight after something or other. He must think he is part gopher.
The big old elm is pelting down his seeds at me now. The ash and the cottonwood are doing the same. The season for extending the species has come upon us with its seed propagation.
James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.