Sometimes my feet wander down trails I’ve traveled many times before and other times they pull me into new territory. Either way, I’m happy to bumble along.
My morning tramp began with a visit to the vernal pool. A week ago it was empty. Some rain and cooler temps suddenly mean water glazed with ice.
Continuing along, I stopped at an old gateway where granite posts mark the former opening. There is a cowpath on our property. Is this another one? Was there a barn nearby?
The split granite spoke of earlier times. Rather than pass through, as is usually my manner, my feet turned and I found myself following the stonewall in a westerly direction.
Curiously, it’s a double wall or two parallel walls, which typically indicates plowed land. That makes perfect sense, as the land was flat. But, what I noticed is that there aren’t many small stones between the outer walls as is traditionally the case. Why?
Eventually, I reached a corner, and found where all the smaller rocks had gone. They form a triangle–a common way to get rid of the little guys. I also noticed what I believe to be a well. There are wells throughout this woodland–rather curious.
Some artifacts, though rusted or broken, remain to provide further evidence that this area served a different use at one time. It now stands in tree growth and is lumbered every 30 years or so.
As the wall turned, so did I. And here I was even more confused. The wall is about eight feet wide. The reason? I can only wonder.
At the next corner, rather than continue to follow the wall, I climbed over and did some island hopping.
Sphagnum mosses display their pompom heads.
Evergreens compete for sunlit spaces.
And suddenly, snowflakes land on ice. Only flurries, but still . . . it’s snow.
At times, I was lost. Not really lost because I knew I could find my way home, but fake lost–curious about where my next steps would lead.
Among my findings as I wandered about, turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor), proving that they are as prolific as the tails of strutting turkeys for which they were named. And one hundred times more beautiful.
Exhibiting its winter color is a hemlock varnish shelf (Ganoderma tsugae).
Witch’s butter (Tremella mesenterica) put me under its spell. I didn’t have any pins to prick it and let the jelly juices run, thus counteracting any adverse effects, but that’s okay–I think it’s a good witch.
The ice needles are forming again, ever curious in style and design.
A different color catches my eye–deep in the woods and yet . . . and yet, the human effect leaves its mark. Don’t worry, it’s not there anymore.
Finally, I followed the deer and moose trail home, and later decided to follow a more conventional trail.
Though I explore the trails beside the brook frequently, the change is constant.
This white pine, which is actually a snag, has taken to weeping. It’s nearing life’s end. I’d cry too if my outer layers of skin were cast away as if they meant nothing.
Another snag shows off its palettes of great size–artist’s conks.
A third snag is an old favorite for pileated woodpeckers and me. I can see by the light color that it’s been visited within the last week.
Fresh holes, fresh chips and fresh saw dust.
Of course, the crème de la crème–pileated woodpecker scat filled with carpenter ant carcasses.
In the midst of it all, the inner bark of the hemlock tree decked out in its characteristic bright cinnamon red color reminiscent of the varnish shelf that grows on this species.
A false tinder conk and a tinder conk, both looking a bit like a horse’s hoof, appear ready to gallop away.
The jelly ear fungus listens attentively to all who choose to share their thoughts.
And finally, a cache on an old stump let’s me know that winter is drawing near.
At day’s end, I’m ready for the next season, confident in the knowledge that everything old will be new again.