Friday, October 26, 2012

exploring the known universe

It’s been an intense week: I have worked hard, and I have played hard. I’ve been exploring up in the woods behind the house.

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That second milkweed pod is taking advantage of a run of rainless days – it’s holding more seeds in reserve, but definitely letting many go.

I’ve been exploring the woods at a bigger level of scale than the close-up world – getting to know individual stands of trees, the little hollows and hills of the woods, particular sight lines of individual boulders, stumps and snags, and individual trees (birch of all kind, beech aplenty, a few cherry, a default of sugar maple, the occasional oak of unknown type…). The land reveals itself to me. I puzzle over how to capture it with my limited abilities and tools. I stand still for so long that a deer comes within sight and grazes nearby, unaware of me. A ruffed grouse wakes up from a nap and realizes I’ve been standing right under its perch for the last 45 minutes. It chirrups at me indignantly and flaps off in a huff.

I’m used to the macro world.

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The worlds-within-worlds stuff.

But the woods beckon!


The sun on the forest floor, a gentle rise, is just intoxicating. I want to fly through these woods. So I do!

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You  might not realize that this yellow birch is next to the last outpost of the known world.

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The actual outpost is this guy. Oh right…this guy. Like the either hophornbeam/young shagbark hickory of the other day. OK, OK, I’ll look this up... and the winner is…Eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)! Woot woot!

I circle back to known landmarks, on a trajectory I haven’t done before. I come across a stump I’ve visited for years now – in the spring, Canada mayflower erupt from the moss.


Today, holding the point and shoot up over my head and guessing at how to aim it, it reminds me of a giant starfish.

Eventually I head toward civilization and the mailbox. It’s only in the fall that I remember we have an oak in the mystery woodland.


Which I know, because although you can hardly make it out above, those are oak leaves up at the top. (With a boatload of beech to boot trying to distract you.)


Partially-furrowed oak bark, halfway up to the top. (I’m repeating myself from the other day, I know. Deal with it.)


And here we have the base. Excellent.

This reminds me that I have a grad school classmate who wrote a whole book on bark. It’s called – wait for it – “Bark”. It’s on my wishlist.

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The remnants of that snag that fell over at the base of the driveway yields plenty of entertainment.


As does this fellow on the woodpile tarp.

My last few shots of the day were of this delightful fellow wandering up and down the railing. I await the assistance of the gods of bugguide to help me identify it.

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Flapping its wings…why?

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About face! Check out that front foot!

1 comment:

  1. You New England folk have the tidiest woods. I love that. Well, and the salamanders.