By Corinne H. Smith
I come to Walden twice a year
To saunter ‘round the pond.
We gather at the replica
And set off after dawn.
It’s crisp and quiet on this day
When we begin our walk.
I tell my fellow colleagues
Just to listen and not talk.
We tiptoe as the clock would,
With the water to our right,
And share the place with fisherfolk
And swimmers glistening bright.
The Sun may be a morning star;
But its pale brother Moon
Still hangs above the railroad tracks:
It fades away too soon.
The air is chilly, that’s for sure.
I keep my hands tucked in.
A mist swirls on the water;
I can feel it nip my skin.
A few bold blue jays cackle
From the trees above our heads.
Then nuthatches and chickadees
Dart in and chirp instead.
But something’s missing from the scene:
A motion and a sound.
No chipmunks squeal across our path:
They’ve all stayed underground.
When I lead walks, they often
Chase each other near my feet.
The trail has fallen silent now;
The hike seems incomplete.
We make it to the house site
And we think of friend Thoreau.
If he were here, he’d no doubt
Tell us what we need to know.
And then we keep on going
With the sun strong in our eyes.
The bathers are just showing up
With blankets and supplies.
Companions tell me that they spied
Some chipmunks later on.
But they were few; and quick enough,
They scurried and were gone.
Are they driven by the cool air?
Do they sense the morning mist?
Will they have enough for winter?
Will they chatter and persist?
I wonder what you do, chips.
Are you snuggled, safe and dry?
Enjoy your hibernation, then.
I’ll see you next July.
Photographs are courtesy of Patrice Todisco, Executive Director, Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area.