Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday August 19th, 1 PM
The 1 PM hike was dedicated to staff as the naturalist for St. Croix and Banning came out to experience the hike along with my sister Jennifer with her boyfriend Patrick manning the drum.
Megan Johnson, the naturalist who joined us, is also the person that recommended I check out Banning while I was doing some hiking around St. Croix last year. I explained my concept to her and she seemed to immediately get it and pointed me in the direction of the quarry loop trail which I still think is perhaps the ideal place for the Song Path. It was great to have her on the hike to see what she listened and looked for.
We started a little closer to the river for the meditation which I find to be more interesting when listening to the water, especially when there are fewer birds around. Thanks to some heavy rain while I was safe and sound in the cities the water features were up again and the waterfall underneath the bridge was raging. However, the dripping wall was still fairly subtle and we had an amazing time exploring that place a bit more deeply than I had in the past.
Megan, being a mother of two, a naturalist, and general park staff, was multi-tasking as she listened and found all sorts of interesting things in the park such as mushrooms, grasses, pieces of coal, and snake skins as well as pulling up wild mustard weed when she saw it. She also did some incredibly deep listening not just to features that I was pointing out but also to micro-features of the park that I had not considered before. She would put her ear right up to trees to hear the insides as well as listen for birds hiding in the branches and also listened closely to sounds occurring underneath certain weeds and shrubs on the ground. She was graced with the sounds of a couple of small spiders chasing each other around in the small microcosm of the ground and got us both to listen to these features more deeply. We were also serenaded by a couple of small birds (sadly I do not know the species) that had very short and regular chirps but who were chirping at different regular rates creating a sort of out of phase rhythm. As they made their percussive piece, a couple of woodpeckers began to fly overhead and peck at the wood in slow regular intervals as well as tear at the bark to get at insects inside the tree. I learned from Megan that the fast pecking we usually associate with woodpeckers is literally more for communication than feeding and that when they are eating they peck much more slowly.
Later, when we reached the powerhouse, Megan heard the sound of the drum and went into park ranger mode thinking there was someone throwing rocks or something vandalizing the inside of one of the structures. It actually took us off our regular course but since that is where the hike was going, I followed. When she realized what it was, she was relieved and we did a backwards loop starting at the power house and ending with the rock crusher.
We ended the hike with the sound of a loud AC or vacuum unit inside one of the buildings near the parking lot. A great way to end.