Spring Walk

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(HOST) On a recent fine spring day, Ruth Page took a walk on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne.

(PAGE) It was April fifth, a gorgeous sunny Wednesday after days of overcast skies and chill. It wasn’t exactly warm, but by noon it was irresistible. Great day for a long, vigorous walk, I told myself.

So I headed out on my favorite four-mile, up-and-downhill trek, to enjoy the rapid exercise, the views of Lake Champlain, and a new sense of freedom — no icy gusts at thirty miles an hour.

I started out fine; I strode down our hill at top speed, turned onto Bostwick Road with great vigor, and faced toward the lake.

Then something happened. There were robins hopping about, a cardinal flashed past, crossing from the maples on the left to the pines on the right, and I slowed to watch. The squirrels didn’t impress me, but I saw two rabbits standing in a field, and they didn’t hop away as I went by: a very un-rabbity reaction. They weren’t close to the road, but they obviously saw and heard me. When I stopped to admire them, they took off.

I crossed the railroad bridge, took a sharp right and, soon after, a left turn down to the lake. That did it. When I reached the bottom of the hill, water in the small bay was just crinkling, like blue taffeta. The two islands are heavily treed and glowed with sun-brightened green. Across the water rose the Adirondacks, majestic but not unfriendly. In the clear air I could see four long ranges. Strips of white on one far north in the view showed that Whiteface still had a snow-striped top, as if someone had carelessly turned over a glass of white paint at the peak. There were just enough white clouds, a few edged with silver by the sun, to add variety to the blue sky. I just stared.

Branches of a tree that had fallen into the bay a few years ago were swishing through the water with a sound that made me think of swimming, but I’m not one of that winter-plunge group. The water’s tug still hadn’t tempted the tree-roots to give up their hold on earth, so the skeletal branches may be part of the elegant picture for a few more years.

I dawdled along the shoreline, then turned up the path and had to stop again. A pair of Canada geese drifted across the pond on my left. Two small youngsters stayed close to mother, but two enterprising young had paddled ‘way ahead in their urge to explore. Another goose hung back, unmated and forlorn. Then I noticed, for the first time ever on my visits to that pond over several years, a statuesque blue heron on the east shore. How much hope there was for a meal I can’t imagine, because the pond, while sizable, seems to be composed entirely of runoff from the steep hill above it.

I wished her luck and climbed back up the hill.

Ruth Page has been following environmental issues for twenty years. She is a long time Vermont resident and currently lives in Shelburne.

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