Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I wrote this poem last October on one of our last camping trips for the year.  Now as we prepare for this year's summer camping, the sentiments speak to me, and I hope, to you.

Banks Lake

I’ve been looking for you.
driving many miles
across a mountain range
Northrop Canyon, near Steamboat Springs State Park
searching for
this treasure:
a place where wildlife outnumbers humans.

We stop at Banks Lake,
a rare body of water in the Grand Coulee
of eastern Washington.
Towering walls of basalt
guard broad scrubby flatlands.
The trough was washed out
by the Missoula floods of the high desert plateau.

We were welcomed.
As soon as we turned off the truck

The greeting committee was there.

un-self-consciously croaking
loud multi-syllabic hellos
from hidden perches.

The alders surrounding us
Golden leaves on display
In the dusk.

The flock of American coots
Spread across the lake.
Black bodies floating
on the calm silver surface,
clucking as they
propelled smoothly, effortlessly,
upending to search out food underwater
popping back upright to glide some more.

The mallards
floating closer to shore.
Iridescent green heads punctuate the gathering.       
I heard the beating of their wings as
simultaneously they rose into the air
responding to a signal
known only to them.

Boisterous Canada geese honking
as they flew overhead.

The white tailed deer and her fawn
grazing on the green lawn
irrigated for human comfort.

The flock of prosperous wild turkeys
proceeding safely in numbers
heads down
industriously pecking
moving on to greener grass.

Two white pelicans
teasing us with brief appearances
across the lake.

We paddled down the lake
in red and green kayaks
failing to convey our peaceful intent.
The coots flew off from our intrusion.
The mallards re-positioned by the far shore.
We stopped paddling
floated aimlessly on the quiet water.
The locals chose a cautious distance
to settle back down.

We urban humans were eager to be with the wildlife,
their presence a gift to us.

We were not a gift to them,

but for once, we were outnumbered.

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