ten day walking challenge day two report

It’s already Monday morning on day 3 so I’m reporting on yesterday’s adventure. I walked (okay, strolled, slowly) in our woods for an hour and a half. The weather and the woods were both absolutely quiet. No wind, no bird calls, one red squirrel chattering at me near the big red oak, that’s it. I am fortunate to “own” 115 acres of woods, fields, scrubby marshy wetlands, beaver ponds and pasture. In much of it I’ve carved out walking paths. At some points these paths run parallel to the road. When the leaves are on no one can see me, but when leaves are off, if I hear an Amish buggy or a vehicle approach, I simply stop moving and it goes past without anyone ever noticing. But yesterday I was walking slowly along and a voice said “don’t shoot me”, which just about made me jump out of my skin! It was my good friend and neighbor out for a walk, both of us quiet-footed. She thought I was a hunter, and was afraid I would shoot her! We laughed about it and made a date for when we get snow to get together for a snowshoe and hot chocolate.

The big thing: the huge and very “dead” maple that we called “the grandmother maple” finally came down. This was a landmark for us, a place we visited on every woods ramble. It was very “dead” even when I arrived here 20 years ago. I put the word “dead” in quotation marks because the tree itself had died and yet it was full of life, host to innumerable porcupines and myriad smaller creatures. Branch by branch it fell away in pieces, but a wind must have finally pushed the massive main trunk down. dec 16 fallen elder maple

There is another landmark tree, also very large and dead as a tree but alive with woodpeckers and smaller critters. It’s an ash tree, and enormous for that species. It took us awhile to identify it since ash trees rarely get this massive. But it had unmistakable leaves on its few remaining live branches, and it was surrounded for hundreds of yards by its “descendants”, smaller ash trees. This is the photo I took of it yesterday. dec 16 old giant ashOther BIG things I saw included the view toward the northwest from the highest point on our land, a spot I call Dragon Bones Ridge because of all the giant boulders sticking out of it in a long curving line. Here is the view:dec 16 view from dragon bone ridge

Tiny things I noticed included some ice crystals along a narrow stream, a small poplar leaf on the ground, and a beautiful pattern on a fallen branch:dec 16 ice crystal forms

dec 16 fallen leaf

dec 16 branch pattern

It was great to be out in the woods. It’s always amazing to me how much the woods changes through the year–the trails I cut never stay cut. New growth reaches in and up, deer use my paths and also create new ones that criss-cross mine, branches fall into the path, and sometimes whole trees fall so that I have to reroute. In the winter I can see bird nests and squirrel nests that were hidden in summer. It’s a magical place. Next week my sister and her husband and their new English Springer Spaniel Fergie is coming for a visit and we will go out to explore the woods. I can’t wait!


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