homepage logo

Sultry, wrathful days lead one to the towpath

By Staff | Jul 29, 2016

The merciless sun wilts humanity and the flora and fauna alike.

It’s near 100 degrees . . . not even a whisper of breeze has tried its wings . . . and the world’s news begs us not to listen.

Where can we find a little solace, along with cooler temperatures and maybe even a little sense about the modern-day world brimming with more and more turmoil?

How about the C&O Canal towpath. There’s a canopy of trees to provide leafed shelter from the broiling sun. Those same trees can shade us from the upheavals found nearly worldwide.

We can relax a bit. We can stroll the graveled towpath at our own pace and not society’s bustle.

Nature — and all its never-diminished glory — surrounds us. And for the tiniest sliver of time all is right with the world.

A breeze comes off the Potomac, whose flow seems affected by the simmering temperature as it slows to its normal mid-summer pace.

The leaves rustle and even sway a little as if doing a mid-1930’s dance with their back-and-forth rhythm.

There is no din of a Interstate and its stampeding semi-trailers. No industry nor factory to whistle and whine as their workers toil inside away from the sun’s belching heat. Where are the deadlines and hurry-up-and-get-it-done pressures?

At least for a few mo-ments there is a partial slowdown to life’s drum beat.

Take in the measured tone of nature.

The plants have their space. Some have already flowered and matured in April and May. Others have finished their growth and seed-making in June. Now it’s almost August and the milkweed, cornflowers and foxtails have come to occupy the compost-like soil that reaches down to the Potomac’s waters on one side or up toward the inclines on the side where the deer, turkeys and crows call home.

Birds — mostly those that can feast on insect hatchings just above the water’s flow — are active and feeding.

There’ll be an occasional heron or duck searching the shallows or slow-moving river for a meal.

A muskrat may scramble from the water to his home just above the water line.

The muted conversation of fishermen can come down river from their boat. They fish in the shade of the overhanging branches, not wanting to tempt the power of the overhead sun.

The tempered scene is one of order, organization, regularity and seasonal happenings.

Blue jays pierce the air with shrill calls. Warblers sing a more happy tune. Swifts and swallows dart across the expanse that is the river.

You could even see an oriole or a large raptor soaring above looking for its dinner.

The surroundings and near-seclusion are sanctuaries from the hectic outside forces at work on eroding the quiet pleasures of life.

Sanity reigns along the tree-shaded towpath.

And when you have to finally leave, the thoughts of make-that-dollar, tote-that-barge, inhale-those-diesel-fumes and hear-the-awful news-of-more-world-violence can’t blur the peaceful time spent asking nature to give freely of its pleasures.