Saturday, January 29, 2011

Into the Woods

The woods are full of stories, about the births and lives and deaths of numerous critters and plants. A blanket of snow tells me bits and pieces of the stories and I can see just how active life is on our "quiet" hilltop.
On my photo journey through the woods on Monday I saw tracks of birds and small rabbits on top of the snow. Deeper tracks by rabbits, paw prints of raccoons or oppossums, and many, many trails made by deer. Some tracks were made by either canine or feline wild ones. A little wind and melt had obscured those tracks enough that I couldn't determine which.
All of the bits and pieces of the stories I found in the snow left the rest of the tales a mystery.
Then there is the old car part way up the hill. It is very old, maybe from the 1930s. The engine is missing, as well as the seats and any trace of them. The top is open where canvas probably once kept out the snow.

It is likely that the hillside had very few trees on it when the car was left there to rust, as the woods are fairly young growth.
What is its tale? Why was it left HERE?
Nearby I found something that I had forgotten was there, an old farm implement.
A small cultivator of some sort lying on its back, its "claws" in the air. Fifty years ago, this spot would have been a really out of the way place. Why drag it all the way out here?
I leave the carcasses behind and follow the waterway at the bottom of the hill, passing a series of large boulders that seem to have slid down the hill at some distant point in time.
They were likely part of the rock ledge that runs through the hill. Heavy rains may have eroded the soil and they slid down. Another story. Another mystery.
The backbone of our homestead.
I then climbed toward their possible birthplace, the rocky outcropping that marks where the land suddenly drops down. The backbone of our homestead.
Through the woods and around the trees, fallen trees, black raspberry brambles, gooseberry bushes. Here the animal trails are fewer. In the snow I find another story. A sad tale. Black and yellow feathers where a bird met its demise, probably at the claws of a hawk or one of the barred owls that inhabit our woods.

I climb higher and over the rocky spine of the land, heading toward the redcedar grove. Near the rundown barbed wire fence that marks the edge of our property is another farm implement, an old disk partly obscured by tall, dead grass and snow... looking like the vertebrae of a large, long dead animal.

Through the quiet of the grove where redcedars grow so thickly that little undergrowth exists, creating inviting open areas beneath the fragrant branches. Places just tall enough for a child -- or a childlike adult -- to sit.
I move among the cedars, down the path that we keep mowed in the summer, and marvel at the many tracks and trails created by animals as they go about their business unseen by the human inhabitants of this place.
At the edges of the grove, cedar boughs sport crystaline ornaments, clumps of snow that had thawed and refrozen.

Emerging from the cedars I cross an open expanse and come upon the birdfeeders.
Again with the birds. I like the challenge of photographing birds and spent much time trying to capture them with my lens. I won't bore you with lots of bird shots, but here's one of a cardinal and his court of juncos.

Today, after whole week of thaw, the woods are still full of snow. Yesterday the weather was warm enough that I trekked down the wooded hill without my coat, on a route I rarely take. It turned out to be a shortcut to our beehive. Some of "the girls" were buzzing around just outside of the hive entrance, taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth. More snow -- along with freezing drizzle -- is forecast for the next few days. More white landscapes. The green is coming, however. So you don't go snowblind, I will leave you with a bit of summer.

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