It’s not until you spend a couple of hours listening only to birdsong and wind blowing through trees that you realize how much ambient noise there is in the city. Although I live near a happening area of town, I would describe my block as a relatively quiet one. And, yet, Sunday afternoon, I kept pausing along our hike to marvel at the lack of noise. Oh, sure, there were sounds — in addition to the birds and the wind, cicadas whirred past, unseen animals occasionally crashed through the woods, frogs kerplunked through puddles in their hurry to escape us, and the earth crunched under our feet, grass whistling in our wake. But they were actual, discernible sounds, rather than the omnipresent buzz of urban life that you don’t notice has settled into your head until it is lifted.
Sunday was sunny and in the upper 80s, so we only hiked about four miles through some of the 2,000 acres of McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area. It’s a mixed-use park, roughly an hour outside of D.C. in Poolesville, Md.
The only people we saw during our two hours of walking were some birdwatchers with their scopes, who were hoping to see some Mississippi kites, right at the very beginning of our hike. We did hear some people on either the C&O Canal or the Potomac River when our path took us close to the waterways, but a spiderweb blocked our way so we never actually encountered them.
I had heard the sunflowers at McKee-Beshers were gorgeous and the Tour de France coverage had left me wanting to see them in person. We never did find them. Instead we had to console ourselves with other flowers:
We also saw creatures:
I’ve never seen a dragonfly like the fellow in the top shot. All the ones we had back home were jewel-toned and finer bodied, rather than this bulkier model.
There were woods to stroll through, fields to traverse, and swamps to skirt:
The grasses were impressive:
Doesn’t that last shot remind you of the sea? The wind was rustling through the trees, just as we came up, so if there’d been even the hint of salt in the air, I might have imagined myself at the beach.
I mean, mightn’t this be some sort of weird crab?
Do you have a guess what it actually is?
We were totally surprised, because we’d never imagined that’s what it’d look like.
Need a hint?
Here you go:
Yup, corn. That’s what the roots of corn plants look like. Cool, right?
Blackberries. We assume they were wild, but as you rarely see vast fields of wild corn, I’m not able to say for certain that these fruity gems weren’t cultivated. I am able to say they were delicious, and absolutely bear-free.
What? It was a wildlife management area. Bears could live there…
All in all, though, it really was a refreshingly glorious way to spend a summer afternoon, sunflowers or not.