The awkwardness of spring came in full force as the weather was nice enough for some of us to don shorts and spring jackets, but also fickle enough to fluctuate between comfort and chill minutely. This awkwardness was highlighted for me with that morning’s footwear choices: to trudge the journey slowly with bulky snow boots, free to walk through any puddle daring to challenge my path, or risk sneaker stains and wet socks in exchange for nimbleness around the protruding tree roots and stone newly uncovered from the melt and absorption of winter. More or less to my regret, I chose the latter. One can’t help the desire to urge along spring with one’s dressing options.
The river was unusually high, spilling onto the path in places worn smooth by our frequent travels. I noticed our path wasn’t the only one being frequented though; from the riverbank through the brush we found a smaller trail along with some critter, perhaps a beaver, had journeyed, leaving compacted mud and broken twigs along the way.
Whomever he was, he now had company on the river. A mallard’s bright green head contrasted with the mostly cloudy sky, shining in the rare touches of sunlight able to poke through. He descended gracefully, swerving around a bend and out of sight, at least from my angle, before settling into the chilly waters. Close to shore, the first water bugs have begun skating across the glossy surface of the river, occasionally fleeing from the hungry mouths below splashing and sending ripples around the crime scene.
Before long, the ripples came in greater frequency, peppering the calm with islands of chaos. A drop of water landed on my nose. It had begun to rain. Pulling up my hood and hearing the voices coming down the path to retrieve me from my spot, I noticed some had landed on my lap, surprisingly solid. I blinked. It had begun to hail.
As if on cue with my realization, it began to come down in a torrent over the water, pit pattering with crescendo. If you looked carefully at the column of air and tracked a drop as it plummeted towards the Earth, it seemed to fall in slow motion. Spring is full of surprises.
Clad in shorts and sweatpants over our sundresses, upon arriving back at the bus, we were wet to say the least. Fortunately, some of us figured out quickly that Crazy Creeks also make great umbrellas in a pinch. Even better yet, Liana’s previously terrible day had been reversed, her spirits now particularly high having come face to face with a neighborhood beaver. Minding her little, he went along his business as if she weren’t there, kindly letting her bask in his adorableness and giving her a story to fill us all with envy as we rode the bus back to campus. She was beaming.
Lit and the Land bucket list: spot a beaver. One student down. Ten more to go.