A Christmas Day dunes hike with surprises

Tern on a clam shell. BY DENNIS FORNEY
December 26, 2011

Christmas Morning 2011 - Joy To The World

Christmas morning continued our mild winter.  A good time for a hike.  We chose the dunes trail that starts at Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park and continues over the old dunes that are walking into the marsh and which end just north of Gordon Pond.

The usual colors on a late, sunny December day are sand and the green of pines and the browns of fallen oak and sassafras leaves. But on this day, in addition to the blue of the sky, we also found many other colors of the pallette along the trail.

Some artistic and happy soul had painted several rocks and clam shells with festive and maritime scenes and placed them at intervals along the trail.  We found the first, a tern tipping its bill into the surf - presented on a surf clam shell - at the base of a weathered four-by-four post. The next was a bold white dove on a blue background on a stone and nestled into a small carpet of browned pine needles.

We found other little gems of art at the base of trees, in the crooks of trees, and in other places.  It was like an Easter Egg hunt on Christmas Day and it was pure joy.

We pocketed the first one we found thinking it would bring a smile to a struggling friend.  But when we found the others, we decided that they had been left as a natural gallery so we returned the first one to its place for others to enjoy.

Here are photos of the beautiful items.  To whoever took the time to create their art and celebrate the holiday season by sharing a wonderful gift along the trail, Thank You!  I'm sure others enjoyed them just as much as we did.  They were sweet pieces of Christmas joy that won't soon be forgotten.