Lime Hollow Nature Center
Covered Bridge at the Lime Hollow Visitor Center

From My Sit Spot

by Pete Angie

BlackberriesI notice that a fly is feeding in a cut on my leg—I’ve been muscling my way through blackberries and they’ve left their mark. Their familiar fruit is white and hard now, but will become plump and black during the long days of August sun. Succulent and juicy, I can almost taste last year’s berries and see their purple stains on my finger tips. I can’t help but feel the history that grows around me as I weave through their stalks. Their leaves have been used in tea to ease childbirth, and Native Americans drank the juice to abate nausea and relieve stress. The act of picking the berries is itself stress relief to me, and I will return for them in several weeks, as will many forests residents such as birds, deer and raccoons.

Moving away from the sunny blackberry patch into shade, an umbel of green seed pods atop a slender stalk heralds the location of leeks, whose broad leaves have withered since spring. With my fingers I follow the spindly stalk down into the soft soil, popping a tear shaped white bulb from the dirt with little effort. Green shoots, like little tongues licking up daylight, indicate dozens of bulbs just below the surface. I pick a handful, careful not to take too many, and nestle them into my pocket. They are perfect for soup or to sauté, having an intense garlic like flavor.

Finding a fallen log on a gentle slope, I sit for over an hour. I hear the continual calls of small brown oven birds, feel the air grow cooler as clouds overtake the sun and wonder if it is going to rain when distant thunder rumbles. The sun returns to brilliantly limn the canopy and I am standing up to go when waves of common grackles fly in with the wind from the west. There are hundreds of them, gliding through the tree tops, making quick chack calls. Black birds, larger than blue jays, they have piercing yellow eyes, iridescent purple heads and shiny bronze backs. My spirit lifts and my mind goes wild with metaphors to grip the sense of wonder that has arrived with the flock. They are black stars shooting through a green and blue sky. They excite and silence me entirely, and after no more than thirty seconds they are gone.

Ambling down hill I soon arrive at a babbling creek and find the grackles above me. So this is where they have returned to, I think, from foraging all day along road sides and in fields, searching for corn and even garbage. Gregarious, animated birds, they ruff out their feathers—which has a variety of meanings—and males flick their beaks skyward in showy displays of dominance. Here they will sleep and go forth again in the morning, flying in huge flocks, like the one I saw, twice a day.

Grackles, blackberries and leeks reside among so many flavors, smells and sights that define summer for me year after year. The joyful beauty of wild flowers, the chirp of crickets, and sharing the magic of fire flies with my son Odin as he experiences his third summer on earth are but a few more. It is a time of abundance, when nature seems to give without ceasing. I close my eyes, listen to the boisterous calls above me, the creek at my feet, smell the leeks in my pocket, and receive.