Notes From The Woods

The beautiful broken maple In the woods

The creek in the woods is so low I can easily step over it
The waterfall is a trickle
The pool at the root ball of the fallen hickory is narrow and green with slime
The creek coming down the hill is rock dry.

A five petaled pink flower with the leaf of a fern dots the thin grasses that bow and swell like ocean waves.

Dirt yellow pollen
dusts every leaf and
blade of grass,
it settles in the veins
making their patterns more prominent

It catches in spiderwebs like golden thread.

Small moths the color of last years leaves flutter up from the ground around me as I walk.  Like snow falling up
instead of down.

Tiny insects swarm under the brim of my hat, they get caught in my nostrils as I breathe them in.

A mosquito lands on my ring finger and I brush away her invitation.

Fate in the pool of the fallen hickory

Notes From The Morning Woods

The morning woods are cool and dark.  Not wet with dew like the pastures and marsh.

The caterpillar still hangs from a silk on the hawthorn, but now it looks more like a spiders feast than  the hope of new life.  Shrunk in on itself it no longer jiggles and jumps.

Under a small serrated edged leaf waits a long legged spider.

Leaving the woods the dogs go for a swim in the pond.  The waning moon like half a melon, soft as lace, travels high over the apple tree, alone in the blue sky.

I reach into the barn to get the rake and a barn swallow swoops past my face in warning.

What I Saw While Picking Flowers

Frog on the edge of the pond

I slowly walked along the edge of the pond looking to see if I could spot a frog before it jumped into the water.  They’re only recently back.  I saw two or three jump when Zinnia went swimming two days ago.

Either I got lucky or this is the same frog that didn’t seem to be afraid of me last year.  She never moved, and let me take her picture.

I’m beginning to think of it as Turtle Alley.

I went into the back pasture to pick flowers in for Jon when I saw the turtle.  She was along the same path as the turtle I saw last year laying eggs.  Maybe even the same turtle?

I wasn’t surprised to see her, just delighted.

The snail on the turtle shell

And she wasn’t alone.  A snail was hitching a ride on the turtles shell.

I didn’t intent to go into the woods, but the path that Mike cut over the bridge needs to be walked on to be kept low.  I know the deer and other animals are doing their part.  I see their footprints in the mud.

So off we went, Zinnia, Fate and me holding a small bunch of flowers.

We didn’t get far, just  up the hill when I saw it.  It looked like a stick or a leaf folded on itself, hanging by an all but invisible silk from a young Hawthorn tree.

It was in constant motion, spinning, bouncing and turning.

The closer I looked the more I saw, but it was only about an inch and a half long.   At the end attached to the silk, it had  six tiny spiky things coming out of it,  like a tiny toothbrush.

The kind of  movement it makes reminds me of holding a pendulum over the palm of my hand.  Being uncertain if I’m making it move or something else is.

I try to focus my camera on it so I can see it better, but it moves too fast.  I want to stop the jiggling, so I can get a closer look, but the longer I watch it the more sure I am it’s alive.

I think that maybe it’s some kind of insect emerging from a cocoon.

Now I feel like I can see it changing.  And I wonder does it look different because it’s changing or because the more I look at it, the more I see.

Now I’m sure there is a face and two small feet on the end furthest from the tree.  And suddenly my eyes are doing what I want my camera to do. Blurring the background and bringing what I am looking at into sharp focus.

Suddenly I can see it very clearly, every detail even the gradations of color from dark brown to pale sand.   I know it’s a caterpillar.

Just to be sure, I want to step away and see if when I come back it is noticeably different.  So I walk toward the little waterfall and notice that the flowers are drooping in my hand. They need water but I’m not ready to go back to the house.

So I stop at the old garbage pile.

It’s a small hill of buried bottles, an old metal milk pail, a bed spring and a broken grinding stone.  I pull one of the bottles that is sticking halfway out of the earth, leaving behind a vibrant green moss lined hole. I unscrew the plastic cap and fill the bottle with water from the stream, and put the flower in it.

Then I head back to the hawthorn tree.

The caterpillar is still there, bouncing and spinning.  And I realize it’s not emerging from a cocoon, but spinning one.

The flowers I picked from the pasture in the bottle from the garbage dump

The Path To The Orphaned Woods

Usually, in the spring I mow a path from the back pasture to the stone wall that leads into the woods.

But last week, I asked Mike, who cuts our lawn, if he would Weedwack a path.  What would have taken me an hour at least (It’s tricky getting the mower over the bridge and through the mud) took him ten minutes at most.

If I keep walking the path it won’t grow back and I’ll be able to get to the woods all summer.  By the middle of the summer the grasses on both sides of the path will be taller than me, but, with the path I’ll still be able to get through them.

Notes From the Blossoming Woods

 

Hawthorn Blossom and leaves

A collage of new green speckled white with the petals of apple and hawthorn blossoms.  The soft sweetness of Japanese Honeysuckle.  So much bird song even my Merlin App can’t keep up with it.

I breathe deep and walk purposely one footstep at a time. I step where the deer have walked, I know because I can see their footprints in the mud.

Now I part the honeysuckle bush like a curtain and arrive at the waterfall.  It’s small, only a few feet high,  but loud enough to blur the birdsong.

Frog jumps into the steam and becomes a rock.

I pass the little pine as tall as my boot.  It has many arms, each one holding a thick, pale green tassel.  It looks like it’s celebrating, glad to be alive.

As we turn for home, Fate, like a horse,  just wants to get back.

She runs ahead, but Zinnia waits for me.  There is always something for her to sniff or eat, while I squat to look at what I think is a centipede on a rock and nod to the hawthorn who is as tall as me.

Gardens In The Woods

Anemone

The trees were my first place of comfort…

Ferns through Skunk Cabbage leaves

…a place of peace before I even understood the meaning of the word.

Three leaf Goldthread

Back then it was the hundred year old oak in my backyard…

A mushroom the same color as last years leaves

…or the overgrown gardens that grew behind the oldest houses in the neighborhood.

Little fern island in the swamp with three leaf and violets

Now my backyard is the woods…

Trout Lily

…with gardens of wildflowers…

Water Arum

…that grow better without people than with them.

Frog eggs in the shallow pond

I feel privileged to walk among them.

 

A Walk In The Woods

Marsh Marigold growing by the stream in the woods

The sheep led by Asher followed me to the back pasture.  “Not yet,” I told them as I slipped between the gates, making sure not to open them too wide and closing them quickly behind me.

Zinnia was at my heals and I knew Fate would slip under the gate by the time I got to to the Gulley Bridge.

A low, battered purple and white violet, greeted me at the stone wall.

At the stream one of the Marsh Marigolds was in full bloom.  The thick petals and saturated yellow, a feast this time of year.

The dead tree with the owl pellets at its roots

Next I visited the dead standing tree.  At its roots are a collection of owl pellets.  It’s easy to imagine the owl living here, high up in one of the old woodpecker holes.

One of the owl pellets

Each pellet made of tiny bones poking out of matted gray fur.  Off to the side a skull, its teeth intact.

A mouse skull?

There were no other flowers yet, but I found many mounds of columbine leaves and one trout lily on the verge of opening up.

Trout Lily

And a few ferns shrouded in cocoon-like webs waiting to unfurl.

Fern

There seems to be more life than death this time of year.  But with the help of Zinnia and Fate I found the remains of a squirrel, mostly fur and bones in the hollow of a fallen tree.  It made a kind of casket, the space in the log only wide enough to peer into.

Scat on the rock wall

And on the way back, scat on the stone wall.

It must be the Bobcat I thought.  I couldn’t imagine a coyote squatting so high on the wall.  But then to prove me wrong, Fate jumped up on the rocks and put her face in mine.

I heard the donkeys bray in the distance.

“I’m coming,” I said more to myself than the animals.  But I have a feeling they heard me.

 

Shhh…Says The Wind

The wind comes
like a whispering ghost
a quiet shush,
a long breath out

down the path,
behind my back.

I turn and last years leaves are lifting up from the path

they float and swirl

I watch
until the last two
slowly dance their way
back and forth
to the forest floor

More Skunk Cabbage leafing in the swamp.  You can see what is left of the flowers at the base of the plant

Notes From The Rainy Woods

The flower on a stalk of grass

The woods are green again.  Not up high, but low to the ground.

The raindrops are big and heavy.  They splat loudly on and around me.

Marsh marigolds with yellow buds, perfectly round hummocks sprouting grass like sunbeams, wild mustard, the spotted leaves of Trout lilies and hundreds or thousands of tiny stems and leaves.

There’s a hollowed out bone, like a sacrifice, nestled in the moss on a rock.  The underside is smooth and the top chiseled by rodent teeth. It’s been there long enough to leave an impression in the moss.

The chewed bone on the rock

The rootball of the fallen Shagbark Hickory is starting to sprout.  The plants still grow straight up towards the sun, it’s just that their “straight up” is different than it used to be.

The deer trail is even easier to find with green on both sides. Fate and Zinnia’s curious noses find deer poop too good to pass up. I don’t call them away, just as they leave me to stare at the raindrops decorating the thin horizontal branches of the Musclewood.

I step over a broken elm, thin enough for me to wrap my hands around, the buds still green with life.

The fallen Shagbark Hickory
Full Moon Fiber Art