White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Saturday, May 29, 2010


(MAY 29, 2010) This morning, before going to the Riverwalk, I had been exposed to music by the Rolling Stones, Chicago Transit Authority (later, Chicago) and a blue grass group called, Mandolin Orange. By the time I got to Angler's Park (where I started this morning), I was ready to be done with the sounds of music and to immerse myself into the sounds of nature. And so I did.

However, not 1/4 of a mile into our walk, a woman who bikes regularly there, stopped to mention to me that she had seen a very large snake, the night before, right in the spot I was standing - about a 6 foot snake. She then commented on the possibility of rain and said that she "didn't want to get her Elvis wet." She then produced a CD of Elvis singing hymns. She had popped one of the ear plugs out as we talked, but Elvis was singing in one of her ears. She said that she had four CDs of Elvis singing hymns. We talked a little about "the King," she mentioned that she had been to two of his concerts and she popped the earphone back in her ear and was off listening to "How Great Thou Art" or "In the Garden."

I started thinking of the medley of music I had encountered this Saturday morning. However, Mick Jagger and Elvis started to be way in the background as I immersed myself in the music of nature.

As Sadie and I walk each day, I want to leave the music of mankind behind and listen to the music of nature. As I write this, I am listening to Garrison Keillor sing some song as he performs at Wolf Trap, in Virginia, this Memorial Day weekend. However, I don't want to take Mr. Keillor with me as I listen to and watch nature.

Since we started at Angler's Park this morning, we headed west toward Dan Daniel Park (about two miles from where we started). Along this part of the Riverwalk, the trail does not run as close to the river as when we walk west from Dan Daniel Park. As we passed the Water Treatment Plant, I saw a couple of goldfinches sitting on the barbed wire fence that surrounds this facility. They were chirping and singing merrily on the cool Saturday morning, and then they flew away leaving the air empty of sound.

We entered the woods beyond the plant and heard the music of water as it rushed over the falls there. Coming out of the woods, there was the sound of some brown-headed cowbirds hanging out near the trail. A little ways beyond that I saw a very small sparrow chirping her little heart out. She must have been a recent born as she stood there with a mussed up hair style and wide-eyed glance at us.

Approaching Dan Daniel Park at about 10:30, I noticed something was missing. There were no loud sounds of children playing baseball on the fields; the fields were, in fact, empty. The rain last night must have caused the teams to cancel.

The park was almost empty, and I actually welcomed the "music" of being fussed at by a couple of mockingbirds who must have thought we had intruded too closely to their nest. We moved on without incident and headed back toward Angler's Park.

Right below the smaller ball fields, I saw the movement of three animals on the ground near the path. As I got closer, Sadie started slowing her pace and went into her "stealth" mode. She started moving slowly toward the three animals. As we got closer, two of them ran into the woods and the larger one sat motionless at her place on the trail. These three groundhogs, an adult and two youths, had been enjoying the quietness of the morning until that beast, the four-legged Sadie, came into their world. The adult eventually moved on, and so did we.

As we approached the woods near Angler's Park, we heard the sound of the birds and the roaring of the river, again. However, I also spotted a dragonfly, luckily before Sadie did, and took some photos. I also saw a green sludge climbing very slowly up the side of a tree. I observed a green larvae as it crawled slowly onward as I took pictures of it. It turned its head and showed a triangular face with what looked like multiple black eyes on the lime green face.

As we got back into the car, we entered the world of human noises again. I started the engine and tuned the radio to a couple guys from Boston talking about cars. Had I been listening to these guys talk about tuning engines and other such stuff, would I have missed the cherubic look of the small sparrow, the angry fussing of the mockingbirds, the playfulness of the young groundhogs, and, even a conversation with a lady on a bike about Elvis?

This evening I went back to Angler's Park with Sadie. The smell of charcoal was in the air on this Memorial Day Weekend. Other than that, the large circle around the playing fields was quiet. We, again, enjoyed listening to the medley of music coming from the birds. Near the marsh hundreds of voices were chirping as the frogs were enjoying this wet, damp weather.

Back at the car again, I noticed that there were few cars around. However, as if on cue, a car with some 20-somethings in it rolled into the parking lot, windows down, and music playing "Blue Hawaii."

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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