What’s Next?

I chose to walk intentionally today, pausing every few moments to look and wonder. I didn’t want to rush, always seeking the next best thing.

And so I began with a stop to admire the great lobelia that continues to bloom  despite the frost we’ve had this past week.

Great lobelia

But it was at a former log landing we can see from the kitchen window, that “what’s next” kicked into gear.

log landing 10+ years ago

While the field beyond our stone wall is mowed once a year, this area has been allowed to follow the order of succession for cleared land. Goldenrod, asters, meadowsweet, grasses and raspberries have filled this space. What will follow?

deer print

Further along, the deer and

moose prints

the antelope, I mean, moose play. No fresh bobcat or coyote prints after this morning’s rain, but I saw some scat from both. And I had to remind myself not to have expectations. That’s the thing. It’s so easy to get caught up in looking for the next best thing and forgetting to focus on the moment, the beauty and the complexity that surrounds us.

water droplets on big-tooth aspen

So I did–focus that is. On the big tooth aspen leaf decorated with rain droplets,

asters gone to seed

aster seeds waiting for their moment of dispersal,

barbed wire

a hemlock that long ago knew this forest as farmland,

autumn meadowhawk

 an autumn meadow hawk soaking up the late afternoon sun,

life on a stump

the variety of life growing on a stump,

hemlock saplings on stump

and hemlock saplings taking root.life on a tree 2

life on a tree 3

life on tree 5life on tree 7

My eyes were drawn to all manner of life growing on trees that are past their prime, from woodpeckers and sapsuckers to mosses and fungi, including violet-toothed, birch and tinder polypores, plus Jack O-Lanterns that glow in the night.

old tinder conk

I found an older tinder conk springing forth with life as it gleans sustenance from its host,

chaga

chaga, that hardened mass of hyphae that is proclaimed to be life-giving,

mossy maple

mossy maple polypores growing in a wound, as is their preference,

mossy maple mushroom:field dog lichen

and more mossy maple, this time covered with the brownish-gray lobes of field dog lichen, which typically grows on the ground. Huh?  Creation at work. Soil forming on top of the moss covered fungi–certainly a fertile ground.

quartz

I found quartz where I expected to find only granite,

royal fern

a small royal fern holding court on its own,

sensitive fern

and the bead-like fruiting stalk of the sensitive fern.

 red squirrel

I saw plenty of birds, including a few ruffed grouse that I startled as they startled me. This and other red squirrels chatted insistently whenever I was near.

beech tree captures late afternoon rays

And I saw the sun’s rays reflected by the beech leaves.

trail 1

Sometimes following trails, other times bushwhacking, I wondered what will become of this forest.

tree opening

Open spaces invite pioneers to settle down.

Pleasant Mtn

In other places, those that long ago gained a foothold continue to enjoy the view–of Pleasant Mountain.

4 birches

Making my way homeward, I found myself in the presence of the birch clan–paper, yellow, black and gray–how sweet it is.

fleeting moments of fall foliage

As the foliage enjoys its final fleeting moments, I intentionally move from wondering what’s next to enjoying what’s now.

4 thoughts on “What’s Next?

  1. Great wondermyway Lee…thanks for the memories!!

    How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned? Bob Dylan

    Sent from my iPad

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