It was cold enough that day the snow stuck to the ground. Prudence led me to set out on a simple walk along the canal the next day, on Sunday, rather than a real hike that would involve the conquest of mountain peaks (hahaha!). I am glad that I did this.
I did not realize how much I missed this place – the towpath. I walked from Rileys Lock to Pennyfield Lock and back. The temperature was about 20°F when I started. Fortunately, there was no wind. There was not a cloud in the blue sky. And the blue waters of Potomac matched the sky in its brilliance.
What I had really missed while I had been away from this trail for quite a while were the little birds that you always find hanging around. They create their own unique sense of atmosphere. Their background noise accompanies you in your time of solitude. Perhaps it helps soothe the soul. It is not as if these birds are even all spectacular looking to the eye. The simple sparrow is my companion on the trail. There they are, all of these different kinds of birds, just going about their business of living, hopping from one branch to another, singing, hanging around on the trail, hanging out with the squirrels, swimming in the water…. There is pleasure to be found in just observing ordinary life on the trail!
And then there was the fox that was running away from the trail in the snow near Pennyfield Lock when I first saw it. It stopped to look at me – to make sure I was not going to pose a danger to it. One look at my camera as it came up to my face and it bounded away even though I was too far away from it to do any kind of damage.
I had concluded in the past that pictures taken of snow are usually not very effective. It can be difficult to capture the proper spirit of winter when you are just seeing white everywhere in the picture. But, it has also been a long time since I visited the canal after a snowfall. The novelty of the experience must be acknowledged. I got a few pictures that I liked that morning.
The bridge over Seneca Creek at Riley’s Lock has been reopened. There is a brand new metal span over the water. I was able to cross over to the northern side of the trail and explore the area near the pond and the Seneca Quarry and Mill.
The cold did not really bother me, but I did notice when I returned to the car after the walk that the skin on different parts of my face had turned red from the exposure. It had warmed up to about 30°F by then.
One of the songs that went through my head during the walk was this one.
Eva Cassidy was a great singer who died young and never achieved the recognition that she deserved. An earlier version of this song sung by Curtis Mayfield was another classic.