Friday, June 6, 2014


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

I took a walk in the woods yesterday along the path I blazed last fall only to find it strewn with the debris of the most recent storm. So I picked fallen branches up as I went along and lay them to one side where they will soon be buried by falling leaves. Ferns have taken over once again in a spongy area just above where the natural spring exits the hill, and I was thankful I'd blazed a few trees to mark the way.

When I reached the main path, I turned left and headed up the steep slope that is now mercifully open only to those on foot. Several summers ago, I had a problem with someone tearing up and down it on a very loud all-terrain vehicle, and finally asked a neighbor to block its lower end with some huge boulders. It's off-limits now to all but those who walk these woods, and that is as it should be. The path slopes steeply down toward the dirt road and, as such, provides a natural egress for heavy rains and melting snows. The recent heavy rains have worn a deep rivulet in one side of it, so it's hard going up there, but I wasn't to be deterred. Two of my three cats weren't far behind, and we made our way slowly but surely toward the ridge where the land levels off.

As I neared the area, I discovered an enormous maple tree that had fallen and completely blocked the path with its thick branches and dense foliage. All I could see were the silvery backs of leaves against a deeper green background, color values not normally seen from this angle, an anomaly in this place of uprightness and tenacity. A bit of scouting revealed that it will be possible to regain the path by passing under the maple at its root end, but I will attempt this earlier in the day and will bring loppers with me to clean the area out a bit.

It occurred to me then that, had I not had my neighbor block the path with boulders, nature would eventually have resolved the problem herself, as was evidenced by this tree. While trespassers have, in the past, taken it upon themselves to cut and move branches out of their way, they could never have budged this great tree. There it will remain until someone decides to take a chainsaw to it. Its leaves will turn brown and fall off, and for awhile, it won't be an attractive part of the landscape. But time will solve that as well, and at some point, it will look like it's been there for years.

As I headed for home, I looked up at the treetops tinged with the setting sun's light, and blue jays flew over crying out to each other as they went. A squirrel scolded my cats as they passed through what must have been its territory, and it sat in that tree for quite some time chattering away and venting its irritation at them. They seemed not to notice as they made their way through the weeds and grasses, tall now as summer nears its end. My garden, too, has that wild tumbled eclectic look that I love, with black-eyed susans smiling above long stalks of mint bearing their spent blossoms.

It's no longer summer but neither is it fall quite yet, and one of my favorite times of year. I like to think of it as an interlude as nature readies herself for the spectacular display of color that's just around the corner.

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