I’ve so many reasons to give thanks and making time to wander, wonder and ask why is high on the list.
With that in mind, I headed to Perky’s Path in Lovell this morning.
I love wandering along paths I’ve traveled many times before and making new discoveries.
The path has two stream crossings, the first leading into a marsh. As I stood on the trail and looked toward the marsh, my eyes were drawn to a wall of sorts.
I bushwhacked to get a closer look and was in awe. The wall is an old beaver dam that I’d never noticed before. Water trickles over it, but in the world of real estate, it has created an infinity pool. Wow–properties with such pools sell for a high price. Fortunately, this property is protected by the Greater Lovell Land Trust.
That discovery, however, led to more bushwhacking. Beaver works galore. All along the perimeter of the marsh they’d completed some selective cuts.
Even tree roots, like this yellow birch that hugged a slice of granite, were at the mercy of this industrious critter.
Big or small, it didn’t matter. If it could be felled, it was. Of course, some disappeared–to be added to the lodge, I presumed. I couldn’t see where they’d been taken. Larger trees were left where they’d fallen, but their branches became snacks.
This beaver wasn’t fussy–Red Maple, Beech, Ash, Yellow Birch and Striped Maple all became part of the inventory. But . . . one tree proved its nickname–Hop Hornbeam, aka Ironwood. After an unsuccessful attempt at this hardest of hardwoods, it was left standing. Lucky for the hornbeam.
As I sat on the bench and soaked in the sun’s warmth, I wondered about the mysteries before me, the mysteries behind me and the mysteries to my sides. And I gave thanks for the opportunity.
There was more to see, so I moved on. At the second stream crossing, I looked around for more beaver evidence. Last year there was some, but none this year.
The water was high, however, and so I again began exploring the perimeter of the marsh.
A pileated woodpecker left its sign and lots of chipped wood below, but no scat. Drats.
Wintergreen grows abundantly in this forest, and so I foraged a few berries. Remember Teaberry gum–this is the source. Both the leaves and berries are the source of the flavor (before it was created artificially). Try one. You’ll like it.
And then I came upon a mystery and feel like I should know this, but don’t. At first, I thought it was a mammal’s tail, left behind. But . . . it’s almost woody and quite bristly. (I found some at another property later in the day. ARGH!)
And finally, after wandering along the marsh, I found the lodge.
It’s been recently mudded–well, before the ice formed, that is. A raft of chew sticks appears to the right front–ever-ready snacks.
Something caught me eye–chunks of ice on top of the ice near the water’s edge. What happened here?
The area leading to the ice was a bit disturbed.
Then I realized I was in the presence of not one, but two aquatic mammals. Yes, the beavers may have made a hole in the ice, thus leaving the chunks on top, but someone else has also spent some time here and could be responsible for the disturbed area as well. A river otter. I knew this by the scat deposited on a rock–filled with fish scales. The thing is–otters prey on beavers. So . . . now I have to wonder.
I left Perky’s Path with questions on my mind. Later in the afternoon, I walked to Pondicherry Park in search of answers but found only more questions. Old beaver works are still evident. Some were made last year at this time when several beavers inhabited this space. As of today, I have not seen any beaver activity here. Why? Where did they go? Did they move away of their own doing, or were they helped? Did a predator get to them–man or mammal?
As I bushwhacked along the brook, I came across this Red Maple. I can’t remember when it fell, but crowded parchment has since taken up residence. One thing always leads to another.
Mallards swam about while the vegetation cast late afternoon shadows.
Beside the water, a few Royal Ferns still sported their crowns of sporangia, albeit withered.
As is its custom, Winterberry has lost its leaves, making the bright red berries all the more showy in the landscape.
And Cinnamon Ferns are curling into themselves–appearing almost like the crosier form with which they begin life.
The sun was setting as I headed home, thankful for the time I’d had to wander and wonder.
And thankful for my parents who always encouraged me to ask questions and continue to sit on my shoulder and nudge me today. I’m also thankful that they gave me life all those years ago.
And I’m thankful for my guys, who helped me celebrate when I got home.