Thursday, March 31, 2011

an early spring walk in the woods

A friend whom I seem to see only at the food coop, when I do my member hours bagging groceries, called me up the other day and we hatched up a plan to go walking in the woods out where she’s living. The plan: ascend the ridge behind her house and peer down over the edge into the adjacent watershed.
We made our way across the back yard, examining mole holes, ground spiders, and such mysteries as the seedhead shown above, and then contemplated the hill above us.
On a recent hike, my friend – an experienced educator and tracker – had seen evidence of a bobcat and, following fresh tracks, had surprised a “medium-size mammal” at the top of the ridge. She wasn’t sure if it was the bobcat, or a coyote. Either way, her neck of the woods is home to a bobcat, and what’s not to love about that?
Naturally, I kept stopping to take pictures of buds and whatnot.
When I was learning how to identify 80+ species of trees and shrubs in winter conditions, lo these many years, our professor gave us a big pass on willows. We never took the time to learn individual species. So a vague Salix something-something is the best I can do.
And the berry of some kind of as-yet-unidentified ground cover plant.
The snow is melting in the woods, starting around the bases of the trees.
You remember beech leaves, right?
By this time of year, they are as pale as another sun-starved Vermonter I could mention, dessicated, and fragile. They’re starting to break off, making room for their replacements.
The higher up the hillside we went, the more open ground appeared.
We came across a dead birch tree. Most of the inside was rotting out, but there was just enough left to hold up five feet worth of outer casing of bark.
Here’s a view down into the trunk. And those are Amy’s legs!
We finally got to the edge of the ridge we were ascending, and contemplated the other mountain on the other side. Or, what passes for a mountain, here in Vermont. That ridge tops out at about 1,650 feet.
We saw only some old melted-out turkey tracks – no bobcat deliciousness – but it was a great day to be in the woods. I wasn’t even wearing a jacket.
A happy red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) saluting the sun.
There is much other news to report on the home front – power tools are involved, as well as plastic sheeting, and terrified cats. But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.

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