It was not quite daylight. Early morning spring had just begun showing its beginnings when I heard it, a rustle in the underbrush, a flash of movement to my right. I looked and watched as a mother Fox and her kits scurried to their den in the rock bluff.
I had never seen a fox in the wild, especially one so close. I was full of wonder as I marveled at the sight!
It was dusk, a hot July day. The coolness from the nearby river was the only relief from the heat. I was watching a leaf on the water as it slowly floated downstream when I noticed something else in the water, a small animal swimming to the bank near me. So, I held very still and waited as the small bundle of wet fur came up on a boulder and shook itself dry. It was a mink, the only one I have ever seen. Again, I marveled at the chance encounter with such an illusive animal, rarely seen in the wild.
Seasons pass, and looking back, I remember so many things I have seen as I walked in those woods.
Snakes sunning themselves on the rocks, blue-tailed lizards scurrying under the leaves, kingfishers diving headfirst into the creek for a minnow. Winter scenes of silent snow that take your breath away and more Missouri birds than I have ever seen in one place. The list goes on and on.
And not just animals the outdoor world would not be complete without the plant world, which is just as fascinating as the animal world.
As a child my Daddy took us for walks in the woods and taught us the names of wildflowers, plants and trees. We could identify a bird just by the sound of its call. This is what I want to pass along to my grandchildren.
You see, I have been doing just that for many years, right in the middle of Cassville, along the banks of Flat Creek walking on the Greenway Trail with my grandchildren.
I imagine there are still lots of folks who drive by the 13th street bridge and on their way to Roaring River on 112 and wonder where all the walkers are coming from or going to and how they got down there. Some are walking for their health, pushing baby strollers, some are riding bikes, and jogging with their dogs. Taking advantage of a little known secret right in the middle of Cassville.
The residents of Cassville are truly blessed to have such a wonderful, magical place to call their own.
A heartfelt thanks to the hard work and dedication of those who have made this all possible and who continue to enrich the Greenway Trail with native plants, benches and improved walking surfaces.
So, the next time you are looking for a nice way to spend an afternoon with the kids, remember the Greenway Trail and you might just discover the magic that is hidden in the middle of Cassville.
Mary Ann Tillman