Wonder my way as I wander through the Maine woods. So often I see things that make me stop and wonder. Sometimes I figure it out, but other times, I’m just as happy that I don’t. It’s The Sense of Wonder that Rachel Carson wrote about which keeps me going. Do we need to have all the answers? I think not.
So join me for a tramp from our woodlot to the world beyond. I know not where this trail will take us, but I can guarantee that we’ll have fun along the way.
This pileated woodpecker and those rectangular-shaped holes caught my eye. I was driving down Menotomy Road in Fryeburg, Maine, on my way to lead a walk for the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, when I saw them. The carpenter ants in this tree don’t have a chance. I’ve actually stood below a pileated creating a hole, watching as it pulled its neck back and hammered repeatedly with that large bill. Wood chips flew to the ground. If you find a fresh hole, look for scat among the wood chips.
Sometimes it’s the action right outside my back door that makes me pause as it was on this occasion earlier in the week. A white-breasted nuthatch went through several postures to let the tufted titmouse know that he was in charge. Finally, the titmouse responded.
And then there’s the goldfinch: “You talking to me?”
Barbed wire is often found in the woods. I’ve walked by this hundreds of times as it’s beside the former cowpath in our woodlot, but only just noticed it recently.
The barbed wire is at the foot of the tree on the right–beside a double-wide stone wall. Honest, there is a stone wall under all that snow. Double-wide typically indicates that the farmer used this land for agriculture. It all makes perfect sense. To the right of the wall, the land is flat and stone free. To the left, the land varies. Our property and adjacent ones are outlined with stone walls that are single-wide, created to keep animals in or out. The barbed wire indicates that they wanted to keep the animals out of the garden. So the double-wide wall consists of larger stones on the outside, with smaller stones thrown into the middle. The farmer’s best crop as he cleared the land–the stones that heaved up with the frost each spring.
Do you see the blue seepage from the woodpecker hole near the lower part of this tree? It’s frozen pitch–from the Eastern White Pine.
This is the deepest deer bed I’ve ever seen. But then again, we’ve got a lot of snow.
Deeper in the woods, I found a large area where the Red Maples had been rubbed by deer during recent months. A buck rubbed the velvet off its antlers and left a signpost for other deer.
On the other end of the scale, this weasel bounded across the snow, moving this way and that.
Other animal sign–snowshoe hare runs, scat and chews. Snowshoe hare pack a trail making it easier for them to move across deep snow and we have them to thank for the contraptions we wear–though I should note that today I sank a few times to my thighs. Yup–we’ve got some snow in western Maine. In the winter, hares eat tree buds, twigs and bark.
Check out the pattern of this bark. Red Maple bark is easily identified once you know what to look for. Many Red Maples in our area have been affected by a fungus that causes the bull’s eye target pattern. Can you see it?
I hope you’ll continue to wonder with me. Let’s tramp along the trail together and see what we can find on our way.