Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

February 2017

Vol. 45, No. 1

Musings: Solitude

Martha Steele


Snow Geese, Dead Creek WMA from Gage Road, Addison Vermont. Photo by Bob Stymeist.

It was late afternoon on an early November day as we traveled south on the western slopes of the Green Mountains of Vermont, passing rich farmlands, rising and falling on the gently rolling road. Off to the west and beneath our moving perch were Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The sky was heavily overcast with dark clouds, but the western horizon cleared and the setting sun shone through the cracks. Suddenly, the previously muted landscape dazzled with stunning swaths of low-angle sunlight cutting through the dusk of the coming evening. The sun illuminated the brilliant colors of maples, birches, and beeches, with a generous sprinkling of deep green coniferous highlights. This was a Vermont Life moment if ever there was one: the unexpected beauty left us awestruck and silent with wonderment.

What does this have to do with birding? There were no birds in this spectacular scene, but if it were not for our love of birds, we may have never experienced the beauty of the afternoon. We were headed for our destination of the night, and our trip was to bird the Champlain Valley of Vermont. This was a reminder that birding is not just for the birds: it is as much about communing with nature in general, finding peace, solitude, beauty, and joy in the environments that we visit to find birds.

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