|Watch this Black Racer get off the wall while a Swallowtail|
flutters by. (Click here for YouTube video.)
|I found two sets of congregating snakes like this and three solitary ones. (Watch them of YouTube as well as a passing train of the Reading and Northern's Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.)|
But it was a big day for the Eastern Swallowtail too. Casually watching a butterfly, one would think the random flutters were at the mercy of the winds. The care-free looking wanderings are impressive. I found myself a comfortable rock and followed them along the canopy of the cottonwoods and black birches. Occasionally two would meet, I think both males, defending their territory, or they could have been breeding, which I learned they do about three times per season.
I’ve also experienced a behavior called ‘puddling’ where as many as 25-30 of them circled around a puddle of mud near Rockport. I’m told males search out sodium and other nutrients in liquids like urine, which very well could have been the case as the area is frequented by many bikers and rafters.
I like to take a 3-4 hour trek once per weekend. My wife asks me if I’m bored peddling that long. It is this tedium that helps me unwind and clear my mind for the coming week, simply spinning. It's what I like to do on my constitutional day of rest.
What I enjoy best on these days is to give myself the permission to lose my sense of time. Today, along the Black Creek, sitting among the bare rocks, imagining the high water of spring, evidenced by high debris caught in branches five feet above the bed, I let go. It was a moment I felt as free as the frolicking swallowtails about my head. And then, time just stopped.
The Black (or AKA Hazle Creek) has water that mesmerizes me. It is as crystal clear as any water you’ll ever see. It has been denuded of most aquatic life from the acidic discharges from the Quakake and Stockton Tunnels found upstream, not to mention the former beryllium plant that once polluted these waters that a $17 million cleanup in the 1990s supposedly took care of. But part of me can see the beauty in the aquamarine clear color, splashing white on clean rock.
|Professor Clark's Dad and Uncles. Uncle Mike on right.|
I snap out of my free moment of nothingness, my thoughts returning to the stories I’m working on, the bills that need my attention (my son's $50,000 a year tuition) and the supper time that is beginning to call from my stomach. I tell myself, as my school term winds down, "I will take those days and fill them with moments like these." Those are the easy days. Easy to say, hard to do.
|The Black Creek Gorge as it flows from|
Weatherly to the Lehigh River at Penn