The Orphaned Woods


An old copper knob and not as old plastic bottle cap, all a part of the orphaned woods

It was finding the Witch Hazel bush last week that made me want to get to know our woods better.

The ten or so wooded acres behind the farm are a messy and scrabbly woods. I’ve come to know some of the trees but there are plenty I can’t identify.  I thought it would be fun to learn about the trees and write about them on my blog as I do.

It seems whenever I post a photo of a tree or flower that I can’t identify, someone who reads my blog can.

I told Jon about my idea when we were away for Christmas and that’s where it blossomed.  I write about the woods enough that I thought I could call the writing by a specific name, like a special feature on my blog.

Jon suggested having one image that I always use at the top of each blog post so when people saw the image they’d know it was a continuation of my writing about the woods.  He called the photo a Sig,(like a signature) a word that I had never heard before and I assumed came from his newspaper days.

Then we started thinking about what to call it.

Jon asked me what the woods meant to me and as I thought about it I started to cry.  They’re not the most beautiful woods, I said.  Bordered on one side by electrical lines and thorny bushes, the neighbor’s hunting camper forever parked behind the stone boundary wall and I can always hear the cars on Route 22.  It’s like they’re a forgotten woods.

But I think that’s part of what makes them special to me.  They evoke in me the same feeling that made me want to adopt Frieda from the SPCA because no one else wanted her.

And like the companion I found in Frieda, I’m finding an unexpected connection with our woods.

It’s not only the trees that I want to get to know.  It’s the wildflowers that last only a few days in the spring, the fungi that spring up unannounced,  the mosses that weather all seasons and the rocks they grow on.  It’s getting to know the buds on the tips of the branches and the leaves and nuts when they fall.  It’s watching the water in the creek and small waterfalls as it flows, freezes, and dries up with the rain and snow.    It’s about getting to know the animals and insects, even if I never see them, from what they leave behind.  It’s even about the old garbage dump, mostly buried under soil and leaves.

That’s when Jon suggested the name The Orphaned Woods.

I didn’t have to think twice about it.  I knew it was just right.

My first thought was to stitch the words, The Orphaned Woods and use that as the Sig. My other idea is a photo of the old Shag Bark Hickory, my first friend in these woods.

This morning I walked through the orphaned woods with Fate and Zinnia.  I picked up the shells from the Hickory, an acorn and pinecone.  I took pictures of the twisting grapevines, fallen trees and hollow stumps, looking for inspiration for my Sig.

Next week I’ll let the woods and what I find there inspire me to choose an image.  Whether it’s the words stitched or a photo, just like the name, The Orphaned Woods, I’ll know it’s right when I see it.


20 thoughts on “The Orphaned Woods

  1. I’m all in! I think it’s a great idea. I love walking in the woods – the birds, wildlife, trees, mushrooms, wildflowers- it’s kind of a magical soothing place. The quiet solitude surrounded by the beauty of nature is a balm for the soul. Looking forward to your photos and writings.

  2. So maybe it’s not just a woods…
    A forest, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, is “a thick growth of trees and underbrush covering an extensive tract of land.” A wood, on the other hand, is defined as “a thick grove of trees” in the same dictionary. … According to that agency, a forest must be at least 1.24 acres.
    Just something else to think about.

  3. I love this, Maria. I love how you find connection and beauty in ordinary places and things, many most of us would miss. What a beautiful sig! The orphaned woods. You and Jon collaborate so well.

  4. There are probably enough “goodies” cast about in the Orphaned Woods to create a “Who Knows What” that will reveal itself to your clever mind.

  5. This sounds fabulous! I look forward to reading about your orphaned woods!

    We, too have an old, neglected woods that I’ve come to love. We’ve only been at our place for a year so lots of discoveries! I call ours The Ugly Woods (with affection for all the living beings) and even though I’m finding beauty within it, I’ve grown fond of the name.

    I’m so happy you choose to write about yours!

    Peace, Toni

  6. I can identify Maria. The “woods” I walk in are bordered by a highway on one side so not very quiet and every a.m. a Helicopter bound for Vancouver flies high over my dog and I. But it is my solace and my quiet time. As a senior I’m conscious of not tripping but in looking on the ground I’ve seen a little mouse, a mink, an otter in the lake and a native turtle which others have never seen. Always a joy of discovery. Thanks for reminding me of being observant and appreciative of the ordinary.

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