Friday, May 17, 2013

A walk in the woods

Spring is the best season in the woods, for me at least --- before the canopy closes overhead, when flowers that appreciate the light are blooming and the atmosphere is less claustrophic. And spring is late this year, so everything was at its peak Sunday when we followed up on lunch with a walk in the woods, led by pioneer women Jane (left) and Mary Ellen (who owns the woods). We were headed out onto a point overlooking the South Chariton River in Wayne County.

Bluebells were just coming into full bloom. The display wasn't lavish, but it was enough to remind me of my mother who always took to the woods in the spring to (judiciously) dig up a plant or two for her garden. Meg, who lives on the home farm now, told me the other day that these still are flourishing.

Leaves were just bursting forth on some trees (we decided that that this was a small hickory, although I'm not entirely convinced of that).

While there may have been some doubt about the hickory, Jane assured us that there was no doubt that this was a chestnut blossom.

As it turned out, R.C. was into bones, and there were plenty of those scattered around the woods. His mother, Kim, had to derail his plan a little later to stuff as much as possible of a deer carcass into his pockets and take it home.

Jan (left) and Jane, however, were the ones transfixed by a newly deceased woodpecker found under a tree. What followed was an outdoor-classroom session covering, among other things, the nature of a woodpecker's skull and the intricacy of its feather pattern.

I collect burr oaks --- and this one was my favorite along the trail, although there may have been others equally impressive in areas where the understory was brushy and we didn't go.

Toward the end of the walk, we ran into a bog and assigned R.C. to scout a path through it. He doesn't weigh much, and skimmed across. The rest of us didn't. This is part of the shoe-recovery effort.

When all was said and done and we were ready to head up the "ski hill" home, souvenirs were displayed: R.C., a bone; Kim, muddy boots; Mary Ellen, a chunk of honeycomb taken from the hollow limb of a giant oak that had fallen during the recent heavy snow; and Jan, the remains of a turkey egg that apparently had provided lunch for a predator.


Dianne Vincent-Mitchell said...

Beautiful pictures, good friends.

John Pearson said...

Hello Frank, that was indeed a shagbark hickory - the scales of it buds enlarge to red petal-like bracts when the leaves first emerge, then soon fall off. Your "chestnut" is more accurately the closely related Buckeye (Aesculus glabra instead of Aesculus hippocastanum). Look slike you had a great day in the woods!

Frank D. Myers said...

Hi John --- We had a great day. Thanks for the clarifications.