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October 2013
Nature Writing en Plein Air

As I begin my boardwalk hike (yes I’m in Huck Finn mode and, no, not the down the shore boardwalk), I pass a young girl with colorful fall leaves clutched to her chest – no doubt her prized possessions destined to be show-and-tell at school.

Scuttlebutt clouds beckon to me as they meander across the deep blue sky, turning wispy blue on the horizon. The aromas that rise from the swamp are no doubt stirred by the previous day’s rain, aromas distinctly related to Nature. I walk.

Shadows cast across the grasses, plants and flowers by the warm October sun as this hiker/observer treks slowly, savoring Mother Nature, hiking a trail that takes me back in time and catches me up to the present.

I pass a Civil War-style fence and hear the echoes of my footsteps as the platform beneath me becomes higher off the varied marshland terrain below. I walk. I see new fallen leaves gently pushed across Pochuck Swamp by the October breeze. Below, Eastern Painted turtles covered in duckweed sit on a log catching the last warming rays of sun before winter takes hold.

Across the swamp I see trees softly swaying in the breeze. How best to describe the color? Willows pale, moldy, mildew green against the yellows and golds of partners in Nature’s landscape. A huge sycamore highlighted silver against a backdrop green and earthen brown reaches out to me visually against soft shades of browns and brown-greys of grasses and plants that inhabit this majestic colorful swamp.

I walk, at times giving way to another of Nature’s wonders – colorful dragonflies landing on the boardwalk, beckoning, before me.

Up ahead I eye the coolest suspension bridge and for a moment I become Indiana Jones in a new and exciting adventure in a far off land.

This for me is part of hiking, finding that reflection time, escaping from the humdrum of the work week. I walk. The bridge and the fantasies it stirred in my mind now behind me. I approach the hardwoods of Wawayanda Mountain. Below, wild chicory grows on the drier footbed. Hazelnuts create a rhythm as the October breeze sends them bouncing across the boardwalk, seeking to start a new cycle of Nature for another generation of “Huck Finn” hikers.

Editor’s Note: Lance Casper wrote this in a plein air writing seminar on the Pochuck Swamp boardwalk led by Mary Jasch. More info:

by Lance L. Casper

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