Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Musings of a Woods Walker

Blue skies, a brisk southerly breeze and temps. in the mid 60s.  Even though it's only the 7th of March, Spring Fever has me anxious to explore.  It's a perfect day for a walk in the woods.  Due to our strange non-winter the ground is bare and even the mud season seems to have passed us by.
I pack my tote bag, a souvenir from the 60s that I still use for my wanderings.  It's a woven jacquard pattern in green and white.  On each side is the word Gemini (my sign) and a woven image of The Twins.  It has been repaired more times than I can count but it's still serviceable and very sentimental.  In goes my never know what you might find...some plastic bags and paper towels, Kleenex,  a Band-Aid and finally my camera.  And I'm off!
The woods begin only about 100' from my back door so it doesn't take long to reach the fairly new growth stand of maples.  The wind has definitely taken its toll this winter.  Branches and uprooted trees block my path and overhead the snags sing creaking songs in the wind.  "An accident waiting to happen" as the old saying goes.  I meander through the trees and finally arrive at the older part of the woods - huge maples and towering beech trees, some still vibrant and some beginning the slow process of the return to the earth.  A large fallen branch stands in the path, its broken face about 8' off the ground, giving the impression of some alien, insectile creature as it perches on its branchy legs.  I stare the creature down and continue on my way.
 The woods have no odor this time of year, only the dry dusty remnants of last year's leaves carpet the floor.   There is really no sound in the woods, either.  Only the wind blowing through the branches and the noise of my own clumsy passage.  There is life in the woods but for now it is hidden.
I see birds flitting ahead of me, taking advantage of the wind to flee from my presence.  Turkey tracks show where a small convention has met to dust themselves in the sand. 
I know the deer are here because I'm forced off my own paths to follow theirs.  The fresh footprints taunt me but I know I won't see them until dusk.  As I make my clumsy way over and under branches, my foot begins to roll on a hidden branch and I remember, too late, that I forgot to pack my phone.
How sad to have reached an age when I worry about falling in the woods.  How long before I was missed?   How long before Mike came looking?   Would I lie at the bottom of a muddy, wet swale as darkness fell and the woods got black and spooky?  Don't laugh... this may be a legitimate worry since I have a long history of falling while watching birds  day-dreaming or just tripping over my own feet.  But all is well now and it's time to follow the track home.  The stream runs high and silent below me, its banks bordered by tired patches of snow.  Tempting, but it will have to wait.
I pass through a clearing that I have stubbornly named "The Grove" and stop again to look for some sign of new life.  I love this spot and over the years have attempted many ambitious plans - A Japanese style garden - I even put in a small pond and lugged rocks and boulders into place.  Next I thought of a "Moss Garden"  collecting all kinds and colors to grow in my homemade hypertufa containers.  Lastly was a "Fairy Garden" -  a start was made, but the various gardens never completed;  for alas,  I have no patience and move on to other projects when the last one doesn't develop quickly enough to suit me.
Well, I'm almost home and still no sign of life.  Wait!  I hear them. High overhead are 4 flocks of geese returning to the North Country.  "Welcome back,"  I yell.  Yes!  spring is coming.
Satisfied that I've met my objective, I have only one more small bridge to cross and I'm back in my yard, pleasantly tired and relaxed; thankful for the land that is temporarily mine and all the creatures that dwell there.
Now...wouldn't you know it...outside my kitchen window are 3 Red-winged Blackbirds and a Robin.
C'est la vie.

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