Thursday, July 18, 2019

City sanctuary

It has been the year of the ghost pipe. I have never seen so many. In High Rock Park on a misty day they echoed one another across the damp and brown forest floor. This is a plant, not the fungus its ghostly color and texture resemble. It belongs to the genus Monotropa, and does not produce chlorophyll.

I was alone in the woods. It felt like a privilege. That is the kind of thing my dad would say. He recognised privilege, spotted it a mile away, and talked about it a lot. The fact that I was a woman, feeling safe walking in this city of many millions, alone, was the privilege. That this green space exists within the city of millions, is a privilege. That I have lived an unchallenged life, white-skinned and seamless, is a privilege. May it never be an entitlement.

This flower was everywhere. At first I was sure it was pipsessewa, but it wasn't. Isn't. Instead, it is shinleaf, Pyrola americana. I had never seen it in bloom, despite years of walking the city woods. You always see something new.

And then across the path a few feet from my feet sailed a long snake. S/he stopped to rest in the leaves. A bulge suggested lunch. This is a northern watersnake, and the water was a few yards away. I don't mind snakes. (Spiders? ...not so much.)

The city is full of wonders. We will not be meeting them on this Sunday's scheduled walk - the heatwave feel-like is in the 100's and I postponed it. But we will be going to Dead Horse Bay on the 28th, in time for sumac and low tide. See you there?


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