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PLACES: Eagle Roost Nature Trail, Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

Oklahoman Modified: July 22, 2010 at 9:29 am •  Published: February 17, 2010
There's a fog that's been hanging around all day. It has become familiar, but not comforting.

It's cold out here near the banks of the Great Salt Plains Lake and there's enough wind to chill and numb the tip of your nose.

The ground is thawing, but the lake is frozen along the shore.

The faint smell of salt in the air reminds me of the ocean and younger days spent sitting on the beach listening to the waves. Yet the odor is so thin that either I'm wishfully imagining it or the cold has stuffed my nose with mucus and dulled my sense of smell.

What cannot be dulled is the sound. At the beginning of the 1.25-mile trail loop the mixed squawks, honks and quacks of what you believe to be cranes, ducks and geese are somewhat in the distance — you know the sound is there, but you don't have to listen.

As you approach the lake, the sound becomes hard to ignore. It's not only louder, but much sharper, as it's aided by the cold wind blowing off the frozen lake.

Then, as if on cue, a flock of birds — I'm too much of an amateur to know what kind — ascends. Dozens, maybe hundreds. And the sound is so intense there is no turning away; no not listening. There is just a cold you gazing at flying birds, hearing their calls.

Michael Baker, Local Editor