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The Road Less Trammeled
by Steven T. Rider

The Promised Land    March 08, 2005

The sky was cobalt blue and cloudless. A friend of mine refers to this as 'severe clear' weather. A fresh mantle of snow had settled over the landscape, the icy grip of winter evident everywhere. The gardening catalogs were accumulating on the kitchen table and I was growing impatient for a sign of spring.

If I knew where to look, I could hear what I accept as a certain sign of spring. The snow was too deep to traverse in boots, so I packed the snowshoes in the car and headed for the Poconos.

Promised Land State Park, easily accessible from I-84 was my destination as I knew my quarry would be there, far from distracting sounds and signs of human influence. The old catgut and wooden snowshoes slid on easily. Shortly I was deep in the flat uplands of the Pocono Plateau. Pausing now and then to listen for the sound I needed to hear, I shuffled through the woods, ambling around without the need for a trail. Snowshoes leave such a large footprint in the snow that I never fear of getting lost; retracing steps is easy.

There, in the midst of a hemlock grove was the encouragement I sought. Faint at first, but stronger as I approached, the almost raucous and irreverent chickadee calls practically concealed their occasional summer song. A dozen of them were flitting from branches to tiny cones, feasting on the seeds. Chickadees have two distinct songs; their namesake call they sing at the feeder, and their summer song: a soft, almost mournful, "pheee-beee." That was the noise I had come to hear. I lingered for a while listening to that joyful noise, imagining the season to come.

I could always count on these tiny harbingers of spring to bolster my spirit. The wind in the hemlocks seemed to whisper softly in agreement as I followed my tracks back to the car.

Promised Land State Park surrounds the hamlet of Promised Land and adjoins Delaware State Forest lands, which offers a gateway to some of the more pristine forested lands remaining in our corner of the country. It offers all of the amenities of a typical state park, including some rare electric hookup campsites. The focal point is Promised Land Lake, a sizable body of water.

Promised Land State Park
RR 1 Box 96
Greentown, PA 18426-9735
570-676-3428 Visit Website
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