Fate and Zinnia run under the Japanese Honeysuckle ahead of me. It’s the perfect height for them, but I’d have to crawl to get through it. I’ve been ducking under that bush for years, it’s one of the archways that lead me further into the Orphaned Woods. But now it’s lower than usual.
When I get closer I see the dead branch that fell on top of the bush pushing it down. It’s only as I reach to remove the branch that I see the robin’s nest and four bright blue eggs.
The blue is like neon among all the spring greens that color the woods. I can’t take my eyes off them. For the first time, I wonder why they are so blue. Then I snap out of it. The mother must be nearby, waiting for me to leave. I take a picture and walk carefully around the bush.
That was a few days ago.
Today I’m laying on the couch spending my time reading and sleeping. My stomach is queasy and I’m too tired to do much more than feed the animals and throw the fabric that Judy and Fran sent me into the washer and dryer.
I tell myself that if I rest today, I’ll feel better tomorrow. And I believe it.
I’m halfway through Suzanne Simard’s book Finding The Mother Tree, Discovering The Wisdom Of The Forest. It’s a memoir about Simard’s discoveries of how the trees in the forest are connected by a network of fungus that transport nutrients, minerals, and water between them.
I don’t get all the science, but I do get the essence of what she is writing about.
It’s because of this book that this year I planted the ten saplings that I got from The Arbor Day Society in the woods close to other trees instead of in a clearing as I’ve done in the past.
The place I chose for them is in a grove of young Hornbeam trees. Their smooth bark is so like the stretched muscles of an athlete that they always seem to be in movement to me. The soil beneath them is moist and rich. I planted a couple of the seedlings in the humus of a fallen birch.
I never thought of how seedlings grow in the shade of the trees around them. That they need sunlight, but not a pounding sun. And now I know that the saplings have a better chance of surviving when their roots grow mycorrhizal fungus which connects them to the roots of other trees and helps nourish them and even find water under the ground.
It is this network of fungus that all those mushrooms that I found in the woods last year grow from.
As I lay on the couch, reading about the old-growth forests in the mountains of British Columbia, I’m thinking of the woods behind the farm.
Tomorrow when I’m feeling better and I’m watering the saplings I’ll be wondering if they’re growing that life giving fungus on the tips of their roots. And I’ll be thinking about the world below my feet as well as the one above.