The past two days have found me wandering on and off trail at John A Segur Wildlife Refuge in Lovell, where spring slowly emerges.
Yesterday’s journey, which began beside New Road, required me to climb up over the snow bank. If you go, don’t worry; I did my best to carve out steps for you.
Do, however, choose your footwear appropriately for I spent a lot of time creating post holes.
My intention was to locate timeless sights I can upload to a Google Map for at the Greater Lovell Land Trust we are working to create virtual hikes for those who can’t get onto the trails right now.
But there were other things that garnered my attention and I’m never one to pass by a White Pine personally decorated by the rain.
And then there was the beech leaf that arced in such a manner its veins mimicked rays of sunshine on a gloomy day.
Speckled Alder catkins poured forth with their own presentation of color as they added more cheer to the landscape.
And Trailing Arbutus (aka Mayflower) buds, like all others, provided a sign of hope that the future will arrive.
Beside Bradley Brook, an Eastern Hemlock held a raindrop-in-waiting, its gift from the sky soon to be transferred back to the place from whence it came.
The brook flowed forth with a rhythm all its own and I rejoiced in its gurgles, temporarily forgetting the world beyond.
Eventually I followed it back, giving thanks for all its meandering curves in hopes that we will all be able to continue to enjoy life around the bend.
Today dawned a new day, and a much brighter one at that, and so my truck made its way to the other trailhead along Farrington Pond Road. The parking lot wasn’t plowed this winter and so I tucked into the edge.
Lost in thought, the sight of a fruit still dangling on a Maple-leaf Viburnum pulled me back to reality.
One of my favorite places on this property isn’t along an actual trail, but rather its one folks can easily find on their own. I prefer to think of it as the secret garden.
It offers views of Sucker Brook Outlet feeding into Kezar Lake’s Northwest Cove. But even more than that, it offers layers and colors and teems with life. Today I startled two Wood Duck couples who quickly flew off “oweeking” all the way.
Life in the secret garden includes three beaver lodges that reflect the mountains beyond.
And flowers like this Rhodora, waiting for their chance to burst into color beyond understanding.
Back on the Blue Trail, I discovered one small feather, so light and delicate and fluffy, and yet barbed, the better for all of its kind to interlock and protect.
At a wet spot, the feather slipped from my mind and I marveled at the thin layer of ice that transformed the watery display.
Within the puddle, a broken Paper Birch trunk showed off the fact that even in death, life continues.
And then I met death. At first, I thought it was a scattering of more feathers.
That is, until I bent down and realized it was deer hair. Had the deer shed its winter coat?
That was my first thought until I spied this. Do you know what it is?
I hope I’m not disgusting you, but I found it fascinating. As best I could tell, it was the contents of the deer’s rumen or first stomach chamber.
And what exactly were the contents? Acorns. Can you see a few shells not quite digested?
Beside all of that was some scat filled with hair and a chunk of something.
And just beyond, more rumen offerings and then an even larger area of deer hair.
As best I could, I tried to piece together the story. Earlier on the trail i’d seen what I thought were bobcat prints until the behavior didn’t quite match for a bobcat wouldn’t follow the entire length of a trail and the presentation seemed to morph into coyote.
I searched high and low for a carcass, but found none. Nor any blood.
What I did find was more deer hair as if something had circled around a tree.
But the curious thing: there were lots of downed branches but none of them were broken. If a coyote had dragged a carcass, surely there would be blood and guts and broken branches. My wondering began to focus on a human. Some of the twigs were on top of the hair so the incident would have occurred at an earlier time? And perhaps all of this had been hidden by snow for a while? And then recent rain events obliterated some signs?
I may never know the answers, though I’ll return to look for more evidence. About a quarter mile away, I did find more proof that a coyote had dined on something quite hairy. It included a big chunk of bone.
For those wishing I’d get back to the prettier scenes, my tramp eventually took me to a lookout point, where the backdrop was provided by the Bald Face Mountains in Evans Notch.
And the foreground included another beaver lodge.
Eventually I turned around and followed the Green Trail out, stopping to pay reverence to a Bear Claw tree. With the scars being gray/black and at least a half inch wide, I’d say these were created more than seven years ago. In fact, I know that for I’ve been visiting that tree for far more than seven years. But . . . it never gets old.
Nor does the sight of ice as it turns anything into a pleasing-to-my-eyes work of art.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to sneak away and even though I had a work project on my mind, these trails have been my greatest escape so far. May you also find escapes of your own making.