On a hike into the greenway that runs through a section of Charlotte’s urban area, I stopped near a pool of water where a snowy egret, a great blue heron and three green herons camouflaged the color of swamp mud plucked at the water teeming with life. The murky glistening water vibrated, jiggled and trembled from below. In the days of dry weather this water point diminished and all of the life it contained – frogs, tadpoles, turtles, fish – concentrated in an ever narrowing circle with less and less space. It resulted in easy dinner pickings for the birds despite the competition. The toothpick legged egret, about four feet high, studied the shivering water and leaned in to nab a morsel, but a yellow head lifted up to greet it. “Is it a turtle?” I asked my trail mate. Its head stiffened and the egret struck at it then the other creature raised itself a foot out of the water like a king cobra and struck back, yellow mouth wide and fangs bare.
“A cotton mouth,” he said.
“A cotton what?” It didn’t look like any piece of fabric I’d ever seen, but it certainly had a huge pale tinted mouth with needle-sharp fangs. The egret decided to leave it alone and elegantly waded a step away. The other creature slithered onto the mud in full view – a water moccasin thick as a weight lifter’s arm and over five feet long slid out of the pool and into a pile of damp logs and brush. So large and thick of a snake, I thought it might have been a tropical serpent let loose by a reptile lover tired of keeping it at home as a pet. But photos on a university website verified that it existed right here in the Carolinas.
This wild heart of nature thrives a short distance from downtown and I love it as a symbol and reminder that despite concrete, roads, square buildings and the ever encroaching presence of people, nature continues to thrive and inspire with its wild creativity. In this same area I’ve sited lots of deer, raccoon, beavers playing and gnawing on limbs, king fishers, a water turtle the size of a quarter, tiny and large frogs, owls, hawks, rabbits and snakes. I need nature to keep me in tune with the natural rhythms of days and seasons and with the natural rhythms of my heart. Without it I can hardly write.
Where do you find inspiration?
copyright: Debra Moffitt 2008 www.debramoffitt.com