Thursday, March 1, 2012

I’d need a movie camera to capture this

I headed up in the woods yesterday afternoon. This time, I was determined to swash-buckle my way into the foreign lands that lie beyond the stone wall, up the hill, to the west. For our purposes, we’ll call these lands, Terre na’ Hun*. Stealth would be essential for the initial approach, so I took my time. I figure, if you’re quiet enough that the resident birds are engaged in chit-chat, you’re doing fine. 

Eventually, it was time to cross the wall, and I headed up. I passed the remains of border skirmishes from ten or fifteen years ago: on our side, a makeshift fort, constructed on a slight rise, so as to have the advantage of height. Weapons –long branches, stripped of bark and twigs –  were cached on both sides of the wall at strategic locations, where slight towers afforded cover.

Judging from the evidence, I’d say the warriors were the grandchildren of our neighbors on one side. Their mother (or aunt, as the case may be) lives on our other side, and at the time these battles took place, our house in the middle was owned by another aunt. A mystery to be explored another time: who is responsible for the undulating height of the stone wall itself? In my mind, it’s a toss-up between warriors (whether our own, or those of Terre Na’ Hun), the original builders of the walls, and the fairies. I’ll have to poke around more to see which.

At any rate: yesterday, I only made it so far into the fabled hills of Terre na’ Hun. The Forest Keeper up there has brokered a deal with a human, and between the two of them, they maintain a series of Forest Highways. The human uses them to access maple sugar tap lines deep in the woods. There was a dusting of snow, which let me observe the farthest point at which the human had come, on snowshoes. I knew that any evidence of my passage, such as my own footprint, might disturb his equanimity, so I withdrew (stealthily, of course) towards the stone wall.

Yesterday, and again today, I headed south, exploring the territory on either side of the stone wall. This meant I was criss-crossing between Terre na’ Hun, and our own and neighboring kingdoms. On our side, I found two more forts – more like border guard posts. There were constructed of whole logs, four or five rows high. Our warriors had clearly felt the need to involve Adults in their construction – testament to the severity of the situation.

Like the makeshift fort further north they are assisting, the border posts are situated on a rise with a phenomenal view up into Terre na’ Hun. The land drops down into the dip that the stone wall runs along, and then rises again into open woodlands that are so compellingly magic that it was all I could do to stand still and not go running up into them. I’m not sure I would ever have returned. I decided to save that adventure for another day.

Instead, in my role as Protector of Red Efts, I explored the flank of the hillside where it levels off into the eventual floodplain of the nearby village itself. Plenty of tiny streamlets drain these hills, and there are bound to be vernal pools up here. At one point, I  found a wet squashy place with a ton of big prints. At another point, I followed the tracks of a gray fox along the Forest Highway/snowmobile trail. (This time, I was prepared, and I took lots of pictures and measurements.)

By the time I’d had my fill and headed home yesterday afternoon, it had started to snow.

And snow.

And snow.


By late afternoon, it looked like this.




The beaver pond extension and culvert by the road.

This turned into my second adventure of the day. It consisted of Checking the Mail (no dice), and visiting the whole mating-newts-tadpole/pollywog heaven across the road from here.


It didn’t make for great pictures, but I assure you, there is a fat tadpole in this picture. Right, center, a thin grass appears to bisect his body. This place will be screaming with horny frogs in not too much longer. Yippee!

Today’s adventure – more of the same, essentially – was conducted on snowshoes in a foot and a half of snow. I’ll enjoy it while it’s here – Best Beloved informs me that warm rain is headed our way, along with temperatures in the 50’s. Amazing, this winter we’ve had. Hardly a winter at all.

* It’s short for Terabithia/Narnia/100-Acre Woods.


  1. You will not be surprised to know that I saw that tadpole in a nanosecond even without the caption. We're tending to Northwestern Salamanders and Red-legged Frogs, here.

  2. Of course you saw him (her? it?) right away. I wouldn't expect anything less from you.