Summer Marches On

Today I attended a celebratory parade.

0-Subtle colors

The route followed the old course of a local river and along the way the trees stood in formation, some showing off their bright new coats.

5-colors in the field

Each float offered a different representation of the theme: transition.

3-ash seed raining

Upon some floats, seeds from the Ash rustled as they prepared to rain upon the ground like candy tossed into the gathered crowd.

4-crystalline tube gall on red oak

Oak leaves showed off their pompoms of choice–some being crystalline tube galls and others . . .

19-hedgehog gall?

possibly called hedgehog.

8-bald-faced hornet

Playing their instruments were the Bald-faced Hornets,

9-autumn meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonflies,

11-immature green stink bug

and even an immature Green Stink Bugs.

10-green frog

On the percussion instruments at the back of the band were the green and . . .

23-pickerel frog

pickerel frogs.

15-yellow-rumped warbler

Adding a few fainter notes were a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers.

16-yellow-rumped warbler

They didn’t want the chickadees to get all the credit for the songs of the woods.

17-hairy woodpecker

A Hairy Woodpecker also tapped a view beats.

12-wood ducks

Probably my favorite musicians, however, sported their traditional parade attire and awed those watching from the bandstand.

13-wood duck

Even a non-breeding male made the scene look like a painting.

14-wood ducks taking off

Their real contribution, though, came from the modestly plumaged females who offered a squealing “oo-eek, oo-eek”  each time they took flight.

18-sensitive fern

Though green attire was the most prominent of the day, others sported colors of change from yellows and browns to . . .

6-red emerging

brilliant reds.

21-Brigadoon

As is often the case along such a route, vendors offered works of art for sale, including local scenes painted with watercolors.

22-lily reflection and aquatic aphids

Before it was over, a lone lily danced on the water and offered one last reflection.

24-season transformation

And then summer marched on . . . into autumn.

Miracle of the Stable

Who knows how it all began. Perhaps it was a teeny, tiny thought tucked away in the back of a mind.

p-milkweed 2

A seed of an idea waiting to express itself in one form . . .

p-polypody

or another.

p-yellow birch in pine tree

The seed was sown and sprouted despite adverse conditions.

p-Normway maple leaf

More thoughts followed, some even considered “invasive” despite their exterior beauty.

p-bittersweet

Occasionally, the invasive ideas forged ahead and crowded the mind.

p-car

Certainly, not all the thoughts were natural in nature.

p-boardwalk

But still, new paths formed.

p-fisher tracks

And trails were traveled to and fro on a quest.

p-stream curves

The path was never intended to be straight and easy.

p-Stevens Brook 2

Obstacles became challenges.

p-brook reflections

And challenges offered reflections.

p-ice feathers

Amidst the offerings, fresh ideas feathered forth fostering education.

p-garland

And with education, knowledge was linked.

p-tree cookie

Because of all the seriousness, humor became a necessary ornament.

p-nativity

And so it was that moose stood watch with others by the stable in anticipation of a miracle that began with a seed of an idea and expressed the wonder of it all.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday School

After church this morning, I stepped out the door, passed through openings in a couple  of stonewalls and then down the cowpath, crossed the power line, and ventured into my smiling place. It had been more than several months since I’d pushed the hemlocks aside to enter for it’s a wetland and woodland filled with growth that can make it difficult to meander through without snowshoes. But before winter arrives, I wanted to take a peek and learn what I could along the way.

o-oak saplings

My lessons started early as I noted a couple of red oak saplings growing in the hollow of an old tree stump, their color reminiscent of the Christmas season. Last year’s mast crop (and another for some oak trees this year) meant a plentiful supply of food for weevils, little brown things, squirrels, turkeys and deer. And yet, not all were consumed and so they sprouted. Now my plan will be to wait and watch–and wonder which of this array actually will win the race to adulthood.

o-huge squirrel cache 1

A little bit further into the woods, I spied a huge cache of white pine cones. This made my heart sing, for I love to keep on eye on big caches such as this and watch as they get whittled down over the course of the winter.

o-pine cones up close

While I stood there admiring the work of the red squirrel who’d filled its larder presumably when the cones were green (and by the way, these cones are two years old, for it takes two years for them to mature atop the pine trees), I thought about the sap that coats them in white. Though the sap is drier now, does it get stuck to their feet. I know that when I come in from a walk through a pine forest, I have sap on my soles, and attached to that may be pine needles or dried leaves. Is it the same for a squirrel? If so, does it wear off like that on my boots? It must because I’ve never seen it on their feet.

o-pine on the cob 1

And what about as they work on their pine-on-the-cobs? Does the sap on the scales come off on  their lips or teeth–much like when we eat something sticky and gooey like peanut butter?

o-pine seeds

It’s a lot of work to get to the two tiny seeds tucked within each scale. They look to be about an inch long, but most of that is the wing (think maple samara). When the weather is warm and dry, pine cone scales open to release the seeds. The squirrel who’d hoarded the stash, had plucked the cones when they were still green and atop the tree–dropping them to the forest floor before they opened so he’d have plenty to eat. And then he had to gather all that he’d dropped into the piles. And now I can’t wait for the coming months–to watch the pile dwindle and middens grow; to see the tunnels he makes in the snow; and just maybe to sit quietly nearby and watch him in action. He was a bit peeved that I was poking about today and let me know with so many chirrs from a branch nearby.

o-porky den?

I finally moved on and saw an uprooted tree I’ve visited on previous occasions. Last year I followed porcupine tracks to this very spot and spied porky within. But when I checked on later occasions, it didn’t seem as if he’d returned. Today, I peeked in and saw water. Even though it looked like a grand home to me, I’m learning that porky knows best.

o-walking in a hemlock grove

At times, I moved quietly upon the duff under the hemlock trees. Frequently, I stopped to listen and look.

o-cinnamon fern leaves1

And then in an opening, I was again in the wet zone where the cinnamon ferns grew abundantly. In curled formation, their leaves added interest to the landscape and a bit of a crunch to my footsteps.

o-cinnamon fern 2

And piled as they were surrounding each plant, I thought back to the pinecone cache. This was food of a different kind, for those leaves will decompose over the winter and nourish the earth.

o-snowberry 1

Continuing on, I came to one of my favorite spots–where the creeping snowberry grew. I hunted under the tiny leaves for the little white berries, but found none. And I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen them, especially in this place, for I suppose that I miss all the action since snow melt always seems to call a halt to such visitations and then I never make my way deep into these woods all summer. I have to assume that the little brown things and birds had a feast. Although, as any teacher knows, one should never assume. Perhaps next year, I’ll make a point of checking on these plants.

o-birch tree in offing

My tramp was a meander, for I knew not what direction each footstep might take me, changing my mind constantly and trusting that if I turned left or right, I wasn’t missing something in the opposite direction. The sight of a beech tree, its leaves ever rattling, did mean that I’d have a chance to move to drier land for a few minutes.

o-equisetum

And then I stepped up onto a rock, where the growth at my feet surprised me for I didn’t realize that equisetum grew in this part of the woods. Always something new to learn.

o-tamarack branch 1

That wasn’t all. As I looked around, a branch with yellow needles by my foot caught my attention.

o-tamarack branch 2

This was the twig of a tamarack tree, with its needles growing in tufts atop little spurs. Had we met before, the tree and me? If so, I couldn’t remember it. Nor could I find it.

o-evergreen hallway

Before me was a wall of evergreens, in a classroom all of their own, for really, these are among my favorite places where learning opportunities present themselves. But, today’s lesson wasn’t about the hemlock, white pine, fir and spruce idiosyncrasies.

o-tamarack tree

And so I scanned the sky, and about twenty-thirty feet away, I found the tree. A tamarack or larch or hackmatack tree, aka Larix laricina, is our only deciduous conifer because unlike all the evergreens, it sheds its needles each fall.

o-moose scat

A few minutes later, I heard movement, and looked up to see . . . no, not the moose that made this deposit last winter, but two flashes of white as a couple of deer bounded off. I think that’s one of my favorite lessons of these woods, for the landscape changes repeatedly and thus offers a variety of habitats for the mammals of western Maine. This is the place where I get to learn the most about them and their behaviors.

o-deer rub 1

Sometimes I’m rewarded with spying the mammal from a distance, but other times I find evidence of its behavior, like this antler rub with frayed bark at top and bottom and smooth wood between.

o-varied habitat 1

I’ve watched the forest succession in these woods for twenty-five years,

o-varied habitat 6

and it’s been logged again more recently.

o-varied habitat 4

With each change, comes more change. And so the mammals move from one spot to another, but they’re still all here–somewhere.

o-varied habitat

I just need to listen and look.

o-turkey tail fungi

It’s not just the mammals and trees that I get to learn about. My studies include among other topics, fungi, of which I’m only a so-so student. But I do know that this is turkey tail, aka Trametes versicolor.

o-Fomitopsis cajanderi  (Rosy Polypore) 2

And then I happened upon a hemlock stump topped with a large, beautiful display outlined in a coffee brown and salmon pink. It took me some work to remember its name. I can tell you where else I’ve seen it for it grows upon a hemlock log at Holt Pond.

o-unknown mushroom 1

Before I forget again, it’s a rosy polypore, if memory serves me right. I only hope my fungi teachers weigh in on this one.

o-logging road 1

At long last, it was time to follow a logging road back to the snowmobile trail.

o-snowberry on sphagnum

Sometimes, I slip back into the woods before reaching the trail, but today I chose to follow it. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but more creeping snowberry atop sphagnum moss.

o-home sweet home

As I finally crossed the field toward home, I gave thanks for the classroom that is right outside our back door and for the lessons learned in this Sunday School. Now I just have to remember everything, which is why I record so much.

 

 

I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy

As I stepped out the door early this morning to dump yesterday’s coffee grounds, my eyes were immediately drawn to a pattern in the dew and I knew that Porky had paid us a visit.

t-porcupine trail in morning dew

His trademark sashay showed in the wet grass almost as well as it does in snow with that pigeon-toed pattern and swish of a tail. Only yesterday I’d been noting all the freshly nipped oak branches in our yard and woodlot, cut as they were at that telltale 45˚ angle.

t-flat hill sign--oxymoron

And then, after today’s coffee (grounds waiting until tomorrow to be disposed) and breakfast, I drove to Lovell to meet up with some Greater Lovell Land Trust docents for a climb up Flat Hill–that oxymoron of a name. But really, the summit is rather flat–after climbing the hill, of course.

t-trail light

It was early and felt more fall-like than we’ve experienced of late and we reveled in the temperature as well as the light along the trail as the sun played with the leaves and added a golden glow to our day.

t-coyote scat 1

When we weren’t looking up, we looked down. One of our first sights–scat! Coyote scat, we thought. Only the contents of this scat were different than most.

t-coyote scat 2

And so we went in for a closer look–for it was filled with quills. Not my home porky, but we know that the summit and rocky ledge below are porcupine territory so it made perfect sense that we found such scat in the middle of the trail.

t-fox scat

We found more scat a little further along–this one was filled with berries and seeds and also in the middle of the trail, atop a rock. Smaller in size, we suspected red fox.

t-paper birch lenticels

There were other things than scat to attract our attention, like the long lenticels on a downed paper birch–their pattern looking like either zippers on a jacket or a bunch of spruce trees in their spire formation.

t-maple-leaf viburnum

We marveled at the color and texture of the maple-leaf viburnums–like no other in the mix.

t-hop hornbeam bark and leaf

And when we reached the hop hornbeams with their shaggy bark and double-toothed leaves, we knew to look below for their seed pods. It wasn’t an easy search for they are small and blend in well with the birch and hornbeam leaves on the ground.

t-hop seed 2

But we found one–its papery sack enclosing the nutlet. We were curious to see the seed and so opened the inflated casing. It was almost a 3D tear-drop shape, coming to a sharp point.

t-hops

Skipping ahead for a moment, after we finished hiking I visited a tree back near the parking lot where Pam and I had noted plentiful fruits in the summer. It takes about twenty-five years for a hop hornbeam to fruit. And the common name–“hop” refers to the seed clusters that represent true hops used in beer production.

t-summit view 1

At last we reached the summit and stood for a while, in awe of the color display before us.

t-polypody 1a

From the same spot, we also noted the polypody ferns that grow upon the summit rock.

t-polypody spores 2

Ferns reproduce by spores rather than seeds. The itty bitty spores (think dust sized), called sporangia, grew on the underside of these leathery frond leaflets. The sporangia form clusters called sori and in the case of polypody the sori are naked. Some had already dispersed.

t-chipmunk

At last we started down, but not without a side trip of bushwhacking and annoying a chipmunk who had some housekeeping details to attend to.

t-docents 1

Less than three hours later (amazing for us), we gathered at the bottom and said our goodbyes to Darbee and David on the left–they’ll return to their winter home soon. Bob and Pam will hang with us for a bit longer, but while I reflected on all the wonderful reasons to enjoy winter in Lovell, the two couples made plans to connect in their winter habitat.

t-wooden spoon

The day wasn’t over yet and this afternoon another docent and I set up a “Kim’s game” of natural and unnatural items on a sheet covered with a bandana on the trail behind the New Suncook School. Then we walked further along the trail and hid a bunch of unnatural items for our after-school Trailblazers to locate. (We had to relocate them as well and are almost certain we found all of them. Maybe . . . )

t-noticing leaf colors

Before the kids did anything though, they introduced Linda to their trees–clusters of trees really for all are copiced, that they’ve befriended and named and gotten to know up close and personal. This afternoon, they noted that the colors of the leaves were changing.

t-Linda and Sassy

They loved giving Linda a tour and she loved being part of the action.

t-alligators in the woods

The kids did an excellent job with their observation skills, including locating at least one species that didn’t quite belong in these woods.

t-fallen log 1

And then we started gently rolling over fallen limbs, curious about what we might find below.

t-red-backed salamander

And what to our wondering eyes should appear? A red-backed salamander under the first one. We rolled a few more and didn’t find much. But then we heard something and stood still as we listened. Finally, it called again and we called back–a barred owl was somewhere nearby. At last it was time for the kids to head home and as we walked out of the woods to meet their parents, we stopped to roll one more log–where we found a yellow-spotted salamander. Unfortunately, in our excitement, I couldn’t take a decent photo, but still . . . we were thrilled.

What a perfect day–of I spy, you spy, we all spy. Indeed we did.

 

May(be) a Mondate

We headed out the backdoor, into our woodlot, down the cowpath, along the snowmobile trail, veered left behind the church, walked down a driveway, crossed the road and snuck into Pondicherry Park.

p-NOrway maple and samaras

Or so we thought, but as we stood below this Norway maple with its widely-divergent two-winged samaras, a familiar voice hailed us. Our friend, Dick Bennett, appeared out of nowhere (well, really from somewhere–for like us, he lives nearby and uses these trails frequently to get to town) and so we chatted briefly. He was on a mission and we were headed in a different direction along the multi-layered loop system.

p-crossing the field

Within minutes we followed the path out of the woods and across the field–prepared as we were for rain. Our plan was to retreat when it started to pour.

Once we entered the woods again, we heard a barred owl call from the distance with its infamous “Who cooks for you?” “Our oldest son and his girlfriend,” was our response for they had surprised us this weekend with a visit and prepared last night’s meal.

p-foxhole debris

For the most part we stuck to the trail system, but then we stepped over the wall onto the Lake Environmental Association’s Maine Lake Science Center property because I wanted to show my guy this pile of dirt and stones.

p-fox hole

On a recent bushwhack with a few others, we’d discovered this fox hole and I immediately recalled all the fox tracks and seeing a red fox this past winter not far from this location.

p-boardwalk1

After poking about for a few minutes, we made our way back to the LEA trail and eventually landed at the boardwalk that weaves through a wetland. From there, it was back through the woods to the park trails. I know my guy wanted to move quickly, such were the bugs, but I wanted to take everything in and so he patiently waited from time to time.

p-Canada mayflower

After all, there were visions in white exploding with glory in the form of Canada mayflowers,

p-foamflowers

foam-flowers,

p-wild sarsapirilla

and wild sarsaparilla.

p-gaywings

We also feasted our eyes on visions offering the purplish hue of gaywings, aka fringed polygala.

p-fern stream

And then there were the ferns.

p-cinnamon fern fertile frond

The fertile stalks of cinnamon ferns shouted their name,

p-royal fern

while the royal ferns were much more subtle–

p-royal fern fertile fronds

their fertile crowns practically blending into the sterile fronds.

p-chipmunk

At the chimney by the amphitheater, a chipmunk paused to ponder our intentions and then quickly disappeared.

p-Stevens Brook

We followed the river trail to the Bob Dunning Bridge and noted all the shades of green beside Stevens Brook.

p-boxelder samaras

And then there were other sights to see, like the boxelder and its samaras. Its common name refers to the resemblance of its leaves to elder trees and the use of the soft wood for box making. Its also our only maple with compound leaves. And the samaras differ greatly from the Norway maple we stood under at the beginning of our walk–for the boxelder’s winged seeds more closely resemble upside down Vs or peace signs.

p-catbird 1

As is often the case when stopping by the bridge, the catbirds who nest in the undergrowth paused beside the brook during their foraging expeditions.

p-caterpillars on maple leaf

Nearby, we saw some food meant for them–a colony of Eastern tent caterpillars consuming maple leaves right down to the veins. It seemed like it was time for some units of energy to be passed along the food web.

Besides the wildlife, our only human encounters included a relative crossing the bridge on his way home from work and our friend Dick, whom we’d seen at the start.

For various reasons, May has been devoid of dates and so today’s adventure, though not long, served as our only Mondate celebration for the month–no maybes about it. And it never did rain.

 

 

 

Sharing My Site

I count myself among the fortunate because pollen doesn’t keep me inside during its high season. Nor do the bugs or rain. Mind you, I do my fair share of complaining–after all I am human. At least I think I am, though I was honored to be called an ent yesterday. (Thanks Cyrene.)

Enough of that. Let’s head outside to see what we might see.

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True confession. I took this photo yesterday, but didn’t have time to write. Finding this jack-in-the-pulpit beside a granite bench by my studio was a complete surprise.

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Today’s journey began in the front yard where sugar maple samaras dangled below full-grown leaves. Their presence will soon offer presents to the world below.

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My next stop was beside another secret giver of gifts–blueberry flowers.

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And then I stepped into the woodlot, where a single striped maple which was the bearer of a deer antler rub last year and scrape (upward motion with lower incisors) this past winter, had something else to offer.

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Below its almost dinner-plate size leaves–flowers. Happy was I to find these little beauties.

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Perhaps . . . just maybe . . . there will be more striped maples offering their bark to those in need.

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Moving along, I stopped at the opening of the cowpath to admire baby hemlock cones when something white and bubbly caught my attention. My first spittle bug sighting of the year. An adult spittlebug whips up some slimy froth to cover its eggs in late summer and the nymphs cover themselves while feeding in the spring–and so I concluded that I was viewing a nymph’s locale.

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Emerging under the power lines, the community changes. It’s here that the land is especially wet and species one might find in a bog grow–such as the black chokeberry shrub. These also like rocky ledges, but such is not the case in this spot.

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I was thankful to find it for those flattened bright pink anthers brightened this damp day.

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Heading north, I sloshed through the deep puddles on a quest to find the sundews I discovered growing in this area for the first time last fall.

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No such luck, but I did welcome the sight of the candy lichen fruits exploding from their crustose base. And then . . . and then . . . what did I see (but only when I looked at the photograph on my computer, and so now I know where they are located)? The round-leaved sundews–do you see them in the bottom right-hand corner? These are carnivorous plants (think Venus Flytrap) and their prey consists of small insects. Already, I can’t wait to make their acquaintance again.

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I turned around and headed south–on my way to the vernal pool. But before passing through a stonewall, I had to look at the bunchberries in bloom.

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Normally, a bunchberry plant has two-sets of leaves. But . . . when one is mature enough to grow a third set, typically larger leaves (perhaps to capture more energy) than the first two sets, it produces four white bracts that we think of as petals but they are actually modified leaves. The flowers are in the center–tiny as they are.

IMG_5680 (1)

And because I was in the neighborhood, in the land of mosses, reindeer lichens, Canada Mayflowers and wintergreen, trailing arbutus (aka Mayflower) spoke up. Its flowers were slowly transforming from white to rust and I shouldn’t rush the season, but I can’t wait to see its fruit again.

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At last I reached the vernal pool and realized I wasn’t the only visitor. What perfect hunting ground it proved to be for the . . .

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phoebe. I cheered for its insatiable insect appetite.

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Because the day was dark, it was difficult to see tadpoles, but I did note that many spotted salamanders were still forming. I also noted that the water level has dropped a wee bit–hard to believe–and where yesterday I found a few egg masses a bit high and dry, today they were gone. Something enjoyed eggs for dinner.  Scrambled or otherwise, I’m not sure.

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Back on the trail and at the next stone wall, interrupted fern showed off its fertile pinnae near the middle of the blades. It’s called interrupted because of the interruption in the blade. Again, this is an inhabitant of moist to wet forests and so it was no surprise to find it growing there.

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A fertile blade, such as this, may have two to seven pairs of middle pinnae.

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The globose sporangia is bright green when young, but darkens to tan or black as it matures.

IMG_5362 6.10.27 PM

On the other side of the wall, I spied some more flowers.

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These were the elongated loose clusters of black cherry trees, that open when the leaves are fully developed.

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One that flowers and fruits before its leaves are fully developed is the red maple.

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And fruits and fruits . . . need I say more?

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Though the wind blew, the samaras weren’t yet ready to let go and set down their roots. It won’t be long though, I’m sure.

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Finally returning home, I passed by the granite bench once more and was still stymied by the site I saw about a half hour after discovering the jack-in-the-pulpit yesterday.  It had been consumed. I suspected the woodchucks that live under the studio. Either that or a bear came along and I missed it.

And so ended today’s tramp. Thanks for traipsing along with me to visit these sites out our back door. I especially welcome those who are homebound with allergies, like my friend Jinny Mae. She gave me the inspiration to take a look today–to be her eyes for the moment and share my sight.

Dear Aunt Ruth

My memories are snapshots of times spent with you and Uncle Bob and all the cousins. I loved visiting your home–whether we drove down the long road and driveway with Dad or walked via the old dump road and skeet field with Mom. Each time we arrived, you welcomed us with grace and your unassuming manner.

I remember sipping lemonade on the back porch, riding the wooden horse, and checking on Dale’s bunnies, especially Peter who soon became Mrs. Peter. I remember lunches at your kitchen table, and the time we bit into our tuna sandwiches only to discover the bread was filled with ants. Why that sticks with me, I don’t know, but we all thought it was funny. I remember family reunions, where food and laughter and aunts and uncles and cousins were abundant. Eventually, it evolved into a musical gathering–such was the talent of the clan.

But most of all, I remember your flower and vegetable gardens and your love of all things natural.

p-kiosk

And so today, as my guy and I ventured to a park we’d never before visited, I took you with us. I wanted to share with you our findings, just as you used to share stories of your gardens and wildlife sightings with us in Christmas cards after I moved north.

p-moose trail

Our first observation–a moose! Well, not really.

p-deer tracks

But we did see evidence of deer and I knew you’d be glad they were running away–leaving your gardens alone. Oh, and those pesky raccoons! Raising eight children didn’t seem to phase you, but those raccoons in the corn field–that did rattle you.

p-gardens on high

The gardens in these woods differ from yours–and right now, given the snow cover, the only ones visible were high up in pine trees, where yesterday’s snow offered nourishment to the mosses and lichens that grow there.

p-locust legume-like seed pod

We did, however, find one similarity–the legume-like seed pod from a locust tree. It’s almost time to sow the peas.

p-apples

In these woods, we also found a symbol of the past–it was once farmland as signified by the apple trees. If memory serves me right, there was a very climbable apple tree beside your driveway.

p-hidden acorn

And then we spied one impossible possibility–an acorn tucked into red maple bark. How did it get there? And will it germinate? If it does, what then?  I trust, you too, would have noticed such and wondered.

p-pratt brook 2

We followed the trails through the woods and sometimes beside the brook for which the property was named–Pratt Brook. It was a bit more bubbly than the creek in your yard, but such is the snow melt right now.

p-artist conks

Along the way, I noted a family of artist conks decorating a tree. And, that, of course, brought to mind the box of colored pencils you (or perhaps it was the cousins, though Neal had no qualms about telling us that our gifts were really chosen by you) gave me long ago. I cherished that box and used those pencils with care. They lasted into my early adulthood.

p-colors 1 (1)

And then my guy gifted me another box, which I again revere. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit and sketch and then add a dash of color. Whenever I do, Aunt Ruth, you are with me.

p-powerline

For a while we followed the power line trail, aka Bear Trail. As you can see, we tramped in the footsteps of many others who’ve traveled this way just today–via skis, snowshoes and hiking boots like us. We were an hour from home and close to the ocean, so the snow level was about six inches compared to at least two feet we walk upon daily. But today’s sun warmed us and initiated a meltdown.

p-spider

I didn’t mind being on the power line for a bit, for it was here that we saw our only sign of wildlife.

p-aster 1

It was also the spot where I knew we’d find wildflowers–and I wasn’t disappointed. Asters like these, and goldenrods, spireas and berries displayed their winter forms.

p-beetle 3

Back into the woods, we were almost done, when we spied this woodwork, carved by bark beetles.

p-bark beetles 1 (1)

And I was again reminded of my past observations when I moved a log and discovered a gnawer on the job.

p-me

The intricate work reminded me of Uncle Bob’s woodworking skills and I knew you’d appreciate that. You’d also appreciate that as I write, my guy is watching a National Geographic show about Wild Scotland.

Thanks for the memories, Aunt Ruth. And thanks for making time for us and showing an interest in all that we did–always as curious about our adventures as those of your brood. You were a remarkable woman and a genuine Yankee whom I was blessed to have as a part of my life.

Fondly, Leigh