What inspires style? The simple answer: Beauty inspires style. To me, this weekend was spent surrounded by the most pure form of it — in the wilds of nature. And wild it was, indeed!
Heard of “lions, tigers and bears, oh my!”? Well, how about “Turkeys, snakes and bears, oh my!”?
Yes, my weekend of inspired beauty brought with it a bit of “Wild America”, so much so, Marty Stouffer was certain to have been filming nearby!
Leaving our site on Sunday morning, we got no further than 50 feet down the drive before we spotted a gobble of wild turkeys. Seeing one or two, or maybe a handful of turkeys at the same time is a special treat, but this was a serious flock of turkeys numbering more than 15 — a quantity to which I’ve never been privy.
Already the weekend had been an adventure of firsts with my son and I dog-sitting a friend’s miniature Schnauzer, yet, little did I know the day held even more surprises than the parade of a neighborhood’s Thanksgiving dinners.
For five hours, Reagan, Grady (the miniature Schnauzer) and I hiked the Mohonk Preserve of the Catskills. We climbed to a ridge where we spotted enclaves of soaring hawks. When we finally reach Gertrude’s Nose, the hawks soared just above the mountainous peak and within less than 20 feet above us.
We rested in awe of the grace, freedom and ease of flight … which at such majestic heights, even extended to a couple fluttering butterflies.
With a 7-year-old boy and 6-year-old dog, resting was brief as we continued our scramble up and down the ridges of Millbrook Mountain’s peaks — it was a pleasure to have eager companions to run along the trails — testing our muscles’ fortitude and our fleet-footedness.
Atop one of our last vistas before we returned down the trail, we heartily snacked on apples, almonds, ginger snaps and water.
But our rocky recliners, soon beckoned a slithering friend — a five foot long and 2-inch in diameter black snake.
The rustling leaves gave us clue to be ware, and sure enough a welcome was made — at the rock we just had been taking photographs on.
We sat watching, until his little head raised and lurched forward in our direction — we took our cue to grab our things, tighten the grip on Grady’s leash and stand ready if the lurch continued in our direction.
Thankfully, he continued onward to the ledge below, and we resumed our snacking. Shortly after, we headed back down the trail — leap-frogging each other, along we ran and walked for nearly eight miles (round trip).
At one of these junctures, I dropped my pack to grab Reagan some water when I heard some rustling — I skimmed the bushes but it was my peripheral which caught the surprising direction of the disturbance.
It was at the top of a scrub tree, about 20 feet up, a young black bear sat perched. In those first nano-seconds, he looked like a perfectly posed little koala bear.
As if in slow motion and fast forward, all at once, he shimmied down the tree until about 6 feet off the ground, where he dropped — giving a slight nod in our direction, then sauntered off.
He disappeared into the thicket as he left us in sheer amazement, albeit it might be better said that Reagan was in shock for a solid minute after the sighting — just staring, his mouth agape and his eyes wide, not blinking.
This was my first “wild black bear” sighting and it was thrilling — and thankfully the bear was no more than 3 years old and it was not blueberry season — which the trail is covered in.
Unfortunately, our wildlife encounters went undocumented — alas, I am not Marty Stouffer.
The photos here are a small sample of our weekend,
perhaps it will inspire your week to a flourishing start.
Having conquered Millbrook Ridge Trail (listed as moderate to strenuous), it seemed fitting to take a photo of how the trail greeted us — a rock slab scramble at a steep pitch.
Grady, ever the smart mountain dog, found the perfect bed to rest upon and look over the Wallkill Valley. He left me wishing for a moss bed as soft (and big enough) for me to lie upon!
I marveled, coming and going, at this section of the trail where the moss grew in between and around the rocks — as if in motion — occurring to me, like a babbling mossy brook.
This tree is a testament to nature’s inspired beauty. The tree — perhaps from a lightening strike or storm gale — had its upper branches sheered back. The split tree’s dead branches now create this spherical-looking crown or basket, while the rest of the tree lives on.
These mountain pines just are so passionate: the textures leave me breathless — the gnarled bark and brilliant needles — and yet, the resolve to survive and thrive through the crack of a mountain rock is what truly inspires.
Ah, yes … napping on the edge of a mountain is a must-do! The breeze, the rustling wildlife, the severe blue skies and golden sun rays create a perfect bubble for utter relaxation, restoration and contentment.
Here’s to a week filled with beauty, inspiration & fulfillment!