Winter can be a tough season, but like last year, this winter has had minimal snowfall and relatively mild temperatures. This has allowed us to hike the trails of nearby parks with comparative ease. A couple of weeks ago we ventured out to Wildwood County Park for a morning hike. The park has three and a half miles of cross-country ski trails, but the only other people we saw were walking their dogs. The snow was slick and wet since temperatures hovered above the freezing mark. Deer and other animal tracks made their own paths through the woods, crossing the hiking and skiing trails with frequency. The woods were mainly old growth maples and oaks with ironwood as the predominant understory tree. The vertical lines in the bark of an ironwood contrasted with the horizontal lines in an adjacent birch tree.
We saw the ice-covered Kraemer Lake through the trees…
and bright blue sap lines from Wildwood Ranch that would soon be tapped into the towering maple trees to harvest the sap for making maple syrup.
We saw evidence of a very busy woodpecker–most likely a pileated–with his recent drillings.
The next weekend we went to Eagle Park and Rockville County Park to hike and check on the eagles. Small flocks of Canadian geese and Trumpeter swans flew over us as we walked the trail.
Then one of the eagles flew to their nest in the center of the park. Soon the mate glided in carrying a large stick to add to the already huge nest.
Both worked on getting the new branch in just the right place.
Later they hopped up to their perch above the nest and surveyed their territory. This pair didn’t raise any eaglets last year–I’m not sure if the eggs never hatched or if the young hatchlings died for some reason. But they are back this year, adding to their nest, getting ready for their next brood.
A mile or so away, the other nest of eagles who raised three eaglets last year, were also adding sticks to their nest in preparation for their next offspring.
Winter can be a tough season. Weather-wise, this winter has been fairly easy, but in other ways, it has been hard on me: losing a parent to death, losing children in the ways we do as they leave the nest and make their own paths, and losing a little piece of ourselves as each of those things happen. And so, step by step, I am walking through winter, hiking through the heartache, and letting Nature and the Creator work to fill up the holes that were drilled into my heart. I will pick up another branch and add it to the already huge nest of a life I have built. I will look forward to the new creations of Spring, and soon I will be able to tap into the sweetness that life also brings to each of us.