Saturday was Zimbabwean Independence Day, and we brought dad to a celebratory picnic.
There was a lot of meaty food, which dad loved, and a lot of really nice people. We had a nice, social time, made some new Zimbabwean music friends and played some mbira music ourselves.
After such a social day, Sunday was the perfect day to just get away somewhere with the dogs. Florian's favorite part of Pawtuxent State Park was closed all winter, so he was excited to find it open.
The park is huge and goes along the Pawtuxent River, which at this point is wide and calm, like a lake.
Lots of really cool rocks to climb and explore, or just sit on in the sun.
This is a popular area for fisher people, so we passed a few of them enjoying their idyllic, harmless, peaceful pastime of sticking a hook through an innocent creature's lip and yanking it into a medium in which it cannot breathe, all for sport. I also picked up long tangled masses of fishing line just waiting for wildlife to die in, along with broken beer bottles and charming plastic containers that once held bait.
Once we passed the fisher people on our way along the river, the trail got more wild and we saw no one. Time for the pups to go off leash and get nice and wet.
Though we've been to the Pawtuxent many times and there's nothing particularly exciting about it, this hike had a particular joy to it. The warmth, the sun, and especially the remoteness of the trail as we got away from the parking lot, and the knowledge that the dogs cold run and get wet as much as they pleased, unmolested.
There was plenty of evidence of wildlife.
We saw a bunch of trees that had been chewed through by beavers. My spirit does a little dance of triumph whenever I see evidence of beavers, those little keystone species whose labors create habitat for other species as they build natural dams that flood the banks in some areas and create variability and diversity in the riparian ecosystem.
Another little triumph--we saw an enormous sneeks!
Not a triumph for Florian, who is so terrified even of the harmless black water snakes--which he refers to, in the singular, as "a sneeks"--that he screamed like a girl and then stood behind me, clutching my shoulders and jumping up and down.
But I enjoyed watching our coiled, hissing friend scoot into the water, as I contemplated the enormous number of mosquitoes he or she is no doubt responsible for eliminating.
Far back along the trail, the river narrowed and became rocky and even more beautiful,
and we had to watch out even more for sneeks because according to our resident expert, they love to hide in rocky areas near the water and just wait for him, ready to spring.
Why is mud so much more appealing than clean water? We'll just never know.
But eventually, both dogs were rinsed and we returned to the car and returned home, everyone contented and sleepy.
This felt like a perfect way to spend Earth Day weekend, peacefully enjoying nature, getting muddy, and celebrating beavers. And running away from a sneeks! How did YOU celebrate Earth Day?