Sunset over Lake Chicot

Sunset over Lake Chicot

For quite a while this month, I thought the best day would be the first day. It wasn’t that there weren’t many other nice days, interesting places, and good people along the way, but on the first day of the month, I picked up my friend E at the airport and we sat on what used to be her back porch and talked for hours. I don’t get to see E very often, so it was simultaneously extremely nostalgic of another time in my life and really nice in the moment. I probably made us some food and it was probably salad of some sort, and I’m quite sure we drank kombucha.

It set a high bar for the rest of the month.

Various other moments along the way gave it some competition: I had a lovely afternoon in St. Augustine with C; I had a day in Reed Bingham State Park in Georgia that I described as “joyful, exuberant, grateful,” which is a pretty nice day to have; and I loved wandering the dirt bike trails with Z in in Trace State Park in Tennessee, which is where I found my blue jay feathers.

But as the month came to a close, it looked like my Best Of was still going to be Day One.

Until yesterday.

It started yesterday morning when, after days of rain, the sun rose into a clear blue sky. The temperature was about 50 degrees, so it was chilly, but spring was just exploding all over the place. All the trees are shooting out leaves, so fast that they look different from one day to the next, but they’re still in the stage where the leaves are tiny and elegant and beautiful. Feathery fragile leaves, instead of an indistinguishable mass of green.

I took Z for a good walk and we finally found the nature trail. For obvious reasons (rain, rain, more rain), I hadn’t looked for it too hard earlier in the week, but it was such an incredibly beautiful spring day yesterday that we kept walking until we found it. Of course, I shouldn’t have been remotely surprised to discover that it was mud central. The whole point of a nature trail is dirt and all the dirt in this campground was sopping wet. Despite the mud, we started down the trail, into the woods, and within fifty steps, I knew we wouldn’t be going much farther. White dog, black mud, limited access to water and laundry machines… I wanted to explore but I did not want to spend the next hour trying to get Z clean before she jumped onto the bed.

So I was just about to turn around, with my eyes focused on the muddy ground, when we startled a herd of white-tailed deer. Not a huge herd — maybe six of them? Maybe eight? They went bounding off through the trees, splashing into the puddles, toward the east, into the rising sun, with the light reflecting off the water and the green all around them… It was surreally lovely. It was like a scene in a movie that you know has been filtered and faked and never really existed like that. Except there it was, existing like that, so incredibly purely gorgeous that I just stood there in the mud and blinked.

I thought fleetingly of grabbing my phone to try to take a picture, but it would never have worked. I wouldn’t have captured it — not without also somehow capturing the chill in the air and the bird sounds that completely surrounded us and the smells of spring and the movement of the deer and even the way my heart was pounding a little from the surprise of discovering that we weren’t totally alone in our little wilderness.

Later in the day, I met a kid in the road. I use the term “met” loosely. I passed a kid in the road. I smiled and nodded and said, “Hi,” and he smiled back at me and said, “I like your dog.” I wanted to clap my hand over my heart and swoon and say, “YES!” The kids who said “I like your dog” were one of my favorite parts of Arkansas last year. I’m so glad that’s just a thing here. I find them so endearing.

And then still later in the day, well… the sun set. See above.

Along the way, it was a delightful day. I did good writing, including writing sprints with friends online, which I always love. I ate good food. I defrosted the freezer and cleaned out the fridge. I washed dishes. I wrote some more good words. I worked on a project that’s exciting and a little bit scary that I will tell you more about later. It was a good day, bookended by incredible beauty.

Today I woke up to the sight of the full moon shining on the water. I’ve read books where moonlight makes a path on the water. I’ve probably even seen pictures. But seeing it in real life was almost as startling as the deer. This picture doesn’t do it justice, because it looked huge in reality and the colors were much more vibrant. The path of yellow looked solid and bright, instead of just a trace on the water.

Full moon over water

And so, Lake Chicot State Park and the very last days of the month (I’ll hope for the best for the rest of today!) become my Best Of for March 2018.