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Pastor's Blog

Out of the depths they took flight

June 4, 2020


After Jesus’ resurrection, saints who had fallen asleep came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 

Matthew 27:53

The trails out at the Navarino Wildlife Area have been flooded all spring.  I don’t know how unusual this is.  Some of the trails I discovered and tried for the first time this year are completely flooded. Some of my favorite trails have flooded sections, especially the trails heading west you can get to from the southernmost McDonald Road parking lot. Those trails are being overrun by the flowages which are managed by valves sunk into the berms constructed through the middle of or at the edge of the flowages.  The valves control how much water runs from the flowages through culverts as streams toward the Wolf River. I’m not sure if the valves are fully open, but there’s so much water this year that it’s finding a way around berms through the woods. 

The Hansen Flowage Trail is one of the worst.  At the foot of a natural ridge running west from McDonald Road to Highway K, that trail heads south to the Hansen Flowage and was muddy early this spring, but now it’s completely submerged.  In places, swift currents have cut away the black forest soil right down to the fine sand underlying Navarino.   

So it was a great thing to find a pair of waders last week for my trip to Navarino on my day off.

Until I slipped off a makeshift log bridge and fell in. 

Then the water entered the waders.

As I fell the only thing I could think of was holding the camera up out of the water. Which I did manage to do.  But falling while having no hands to break the fall meant I fell almost completely submerged. 

For about a second.

I’m not sure how I managed to stand up again as quickly as I did, while at the same time I was able to reach for the new plastic bottle of bug spray that was being swept away in the current. My pants and socks absorbed all the water that poured in. 

The camera was perfectly dry. 

And the phone.

And the car key fobs, protected by my jacket pocket. 

And my i pad, protected by the backpack. 

It’s kind of ridiculous that I carry more than a thousand dollars of electronics along with me on these walks.  John Muir carried a pencil and a notebook/sketch pad on his thousand-mile walk from Wisconsin to Florida and his hundreds of miles of walks through the Sierras, Cascades, and Alaska.  Apparently John Muir didn’t fall into flooded trails, though he did climb a pine tree or two during the height of thunderous gales. 

Maybe I should try that. 

Sketchpads, that is. 

But there’s not a lot of time for drawing, and some of the subjects like the new butterfly I saw?  Well, butterflies fly. 

I also saw three flowers I’ve never seen before:

·         a sandy field of purple flowers that remind me of lupines in the Cascades,

·         bushy shrubs that cover one section of the Wolf River Flowage berm blooming with occasional, small, white flower cups, drooping down,

·         a flower that’s a cross between a daisy and a fleabane.

False Solomon Seals are at their peak in the woods as are strawberries along the trails.  Suddenly appearing are the tall, elegant red and yellow columbines, bladder campion, dwarf yellow cinquefoil, and creeping yellow clovers.  The violets, trilliums, wild geraniums, and dandelions, depending on their location, are rapidly fading, the dandelions, of course, transformed into spheres of seeds ready to fly.

Along Hansen Flowage where a while ago the tree and barn swallows put on their air show, the dragon and damsel flies have taken over.  Large and medium black-bodied dragon flies darted and swayed everywhere; the large ones had black wing tip markings and a yellow or white patch on their backs. The impossibly thin (a millimeter?) damsel flies have always seemed to me to be glowing with iridescent blue electricity.  I have seen the nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies clinging to blades of grass along lake shores, but never so many before.  It was as though the Risen Christ had come out of the depths of the waters leading the creeping nymphs up the green blades rising where somehow new legs and new bodies pushed themselves up out of old legs and old bodies, where somehow invisible wings were extended and made flight-ready firm through the power running in tiny black veins. 

Then last week they leapt into the air leaving their old bodies behind: parchment brittle, the color of nylon stockings, a skin once more commonly worn by humans.  Having cast off their old clothes, I caught a few dragonflies romancing in the shadows, procreating the next generation the very first week they could fly.

It wasn’t so pleasant for me to leap up out of the cold water and slog for another hour back to the car, extra pounds of water clinging to my legs, soaking my socks.  With nothing but a cheese and pickle sandwich to cheer me up, I rested on the bench at the edge of the 80 Acre Flowage and talked with a fellow young traveler who marveled that none of what I had just seen was available to his expensive electronic screen.

Pastor Larry 

Posted by Larry Lange