Chasing the fog

Date Published: 
Nov. 10, 2017

As I backed out the driveway last Friday morning at 7:15, Cedar Drive was still quiet before the mad rush of buses and parents dropping off the kids at Lord Baltimore Elementary School. Even though I live a half a mile from work, it’s funny how I need to do just the right timing so I do not end up mixed in part of the busy drop-off time of the school traffic.

As I went down School Lane, I notice that there was a soft layer of fog over the fields drifting up toward a brilliant blue sky. Going to be another great day of this Indian summer we are seeing this year, I thought to myself.

Pulling into the office parking lot convinced me that there needed to be a change of plans for the morning. I can read e-mails anytime, I figured. This fog is here now and will be gone in another half hour. Grabbing my camera, I headed for Fresh Pond, making a few scenic stops along the way.

Fresh Pond is a part of my old stomping ground, as I lived on Cedar Neck Road until I was in 11th grade. It was much different then, comprised mostly of fields (some farmed and some just natural). After school, weekends and in the summer, we rode bikes or walked just about anywhere. We ran through cornfields, built forts in the woods and even swam in the Assawoman Canal.

It did not matter if you were on someone else’s land, everyone knew who you were and they did not care. No one ever said, “Hey kids, get off my lawn!” We played king of the hill in Delmus Hickman’s corn crib on a mountain of horse corn. Remember, no hills here, so we compensated.

Well, there was one giant sand dune by Salt Pond that we had a lot of fun on, including driving an old pick-up truck up it one night. Other times, we made our own hills, sledding down a mountain of snow that dad made with a snowplow when he plowed the hatchery parking lot.

On this foggy fall morning, walking through Fresh Pond, the changing colors of the weeds and grasses and the seldom-seen opportunity to be completely alone brought back a flood of childhood memories. It was a time of complete freedom, and free from any worries or concerns. A time of just being.

The sun started peaking it’s face over the pines to spread that warm autumn light over the meadows and making beautiful reflections on the perfectly still pond. Dew drops sparkled on leaves, and spider webs turned white against the darkening foliage.

I have always loved phragmites, the tall plumed grasses along Sussex County marshes and ditches — an extremely invasive species that most folks hate and are almost impossible to get rid of. Our office building is ensconced in phragmites, but it makes great hideways for birds and other small marsh creatures to enjoy giving me a wonderful view of nature every day from my office window.

The phragmites plumes this time of year are fluffy and tall waving in the breeze. Over my lifetime, I have used them for many things.

In the spring when the new growth was coming up and they were the firmest, as children we would cut them off for mock swordfights running through the woods as Robin Hood or King Author and his knights.

Some cattails and phagmites have made lovely natural flower arrangements over the years, and I have even used them before to camouflage a duck blind. On Friday morning, the plumes were blooming and with the dew drops and the rising sun, an almost whitish hue gave them prominence in the landscape. More than ever it made me appreciate the natural beauty of our area, something many of us who have always lived here has known. It is what has kept many of us here instead of moving to the city, and it is what is driving those in the city to move here. Something that we many times take for granted.

This has been a year, where I have made a concentrated effort to be outside more, to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Is it because I am getting older and spare time is at a premium, or because natural areas are fewer and farther between?

It is most likely a combination of both, but I am taking little moments of the day anytime that I can to just take a walk or a short paddle to sneak out to the special places in the area.

Am I going to see you out there? What’s your excuse?