Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beauty in a Dark Forest

The BLM office windows were bright as I gathered my trash out of my car, there was bags of useless crap sucking the pennies out of my purse in extra fuel use, and I snuck them into their outside trashcan before Dan came out and caught me. I woke up around three something to meet him there at 4:30am to go out to a bird point together on BLM land. He was an eager intern as we loaded up his SUV in case the roads were bad and headed out to a ranch owned by a woman next to the South Dakota border. We were amazed to find the most beautiful red cliffs in the black hills hidden behind her private property on public land, and no one else will be able to visit it.

It was a hard day crashing through brush on the virgin forest floor, I was constantly getting smacked in the face by branches. I was blank the first few points on the forest birds, being so use to sparrows in grassy sage fields, and thought I must look horrible to this kid who asked me what every bird song was. Years of birding helped the familiar songs come back to me eventually and I was able to write which birds they came from on previous points because of my detailed notes on unknowns. It helped to track a few birds down, as they sang from ponderosa pines as high as twenty-five meters. We were both excited to find a visible ovenbird high in a tree, he was the loudest bird in the forest, usually the robin is, it was the first time either of us had seen one. We also saw several rare white-winged juncos endemic to the Black Hills, and the beauty of the forest was amazing and kept us going though we were so exhausted.

I found Erin in the library again, with a kid from Mexico bugging her. She looked creeped out, until he gave up and left. We did paperwork and talked about our transects. After she left, I read some magazines then sat on the floor in the poetry section, trying to find inspiration for my lack of creative haiku.

I thought of the two Facebook emails a long lost friend sent me today. I had checked my phone for the time while climbing up a particularly huge mountain earlier and saw the first one. The name shocked me and I stopped in my tracks while Dan asked what was wrong, because he was sliding down the slope. I quickly read it, then pondered what it meant to me the rest of the day while wandering that forest.

It was dark when I made it to Keyhole Lake at Wind Creek. I put my last $10 in the camping envelope, and said a little prayer that my paycheck would be in my bank tomorrow. I am too tired to brush my teeth, or set up my tent, I'm falling asleep as I write. My eyes are so heavy...(pen mark where my hand slipped off my handwritten diary page).

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