A Couple Mid December Hikes in Community Park.
It has been three weeks since I last hiked in the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. It is mid December now and in many years here in Northeastern Pennsylvania the lakes and ponds would be frozen and covered in snow and ice. . Not this year. On Tuesday afternoon I found Lake Irena to be ice and snow free. We almost, but more on that later.
It was a sunny and mild, for mid December, afternoon when I started my walk in the park and around the lake. Temperatures were near 50 degrees. The water of the lake were deep blue, reflecting the clear skies. It was a nice day for a hike but it wasn’t Summer anymore. This was apparent for a number of reasons.
First the trees, shrubs and plants were all leafless. And the few leaves that still clung to the oak trees and the leaves that have fallen to the ground were all brown. The gray tree trunks and brown fallen leaves will be the dominant colors in the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania for the next few months,
There was also the quiet and absence of the song birds, insects and other wildlife I usual see on my hikes. On my three mile hike on Tuesday I did not see a single living critter. The only signs of life were a few crows cawing in the distance. Finally the low angle of the mid December sun was apparent by the long shadows cast by the sun’s rays in mid afternoon.
I saw few colors in lifeless and dreary December landscape. There were some green pine and fir trees growing along the lake and in the woodlands. They provided a pretty green contrast to the deep blue waters of the lake and sky.
And, growing on the ground were patches of green moss. I hardly notice the mosses in the lush greens of spring and summer. However, they stand out now and, I didn’t realize until my hike on Tuesday the many types that grow right here in Community Park. My PictureThis iPhone App tells me this is common hairmoss,
As I finished my hike I did find some ice, very thin layer, a sign winter approaches. Although I saw no flowers, insects, birds or other wildlife it was still a nice place to spend a sunny December afternoon.
However, it was a different picture when I returned for another hike Thursday afternoon. The leafless trees and brown leaf littered ground were still there but there was brilliant sunshine with a record breaking 60 degrees temperature. There was no ice on Lake Irena on Thursday.
There were a few fishermen and a lot of hikers enjoying the spring-like weather, as was I. I had shorts on and shorts in December in Northeastern Pennsylvania is rare and, in my opinion, a good thing. but maybe not for our environment. Global warming is real.
I walked around the lake looking for the mallard ducks, but they were gone. Even though we had sunshine and spring-like temperatures it was still mid December and it was quiet with little wildlife activity. On my three mile hike I heard a few crows and the only other birds I saw were a couple of black-capped chickadees.
On my return I walked along the lake, still searching for some color, and noticed the green Hartford or American climbing ferns that grow in one location along the trail. They too, should provide a little green to the otherwise gray, brown, and eventually white colors of winter. I am not looking forward to the whites.
I finished my hike on the warm December afternoon seeing one critter, a fellow mammal. This gray squirrel was scampering on the grounds of the picnic area , taking advantage of the warmth to search for food
. It was a nice weeks of walks at the Community Park. I am hoping that this weather remains for a few more weeks, or months. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes this past week. Community Park December 14-16 2021
It seems like everything sleeps in winter, but it’s really a time of renewal and reflection. Elizabeth Camden