Friday, October 28, 2011

Woodland walk

Between the bushlot where the dogs and I walk often, and the field that is planted in grains of some sort, you can see where some farmer of long ago - back in the mid-1800s when this land was settled, moved all the stones from the field and built what we call a road allowance. The long line of trees marks the stone fence between one property and another or the bush lot and the field. But because of the size of the trees I see that it hasn't been used for a long time.

Originally the farmer would lead the horses pulling the wagon out to the field and he would dig out the stone as much as he could then either by using a pulley type of contraption on the wagon, hoist out the stone and then using ropes drag it to the edge of the property, or if the stones were small - as you can see the top ones are, just load up the wagon,  drive the horses to the edge where he wanted to dump them, and throw them off. This laborious work continued for many years. without machinery, just old-fashioned hard labour.

A friend of mine born in the 1930s told me that she would help her dad every year picking stones. Each field would have stones that the earth would heave up in the frost and thaw that is early winter and early spring here. Not the huge boulders that had been pulled out by her grandfather and a team, but stones that were of all sizes. That way the harrows, plows and seeders wouldn't get damaged while planting and harvesting. They also pulled out the "wild carrot" or Queen Anne's Lace by hand. No spraying for weeds, all done by hand or by the plow.

I muse on this rich history when I walk along the edge of the field or down the road allowance that is now strewn with broken limbs, and lately, huge fallen beech trees, climbing over them or between in one case where the limb shattered apart when it fell - it's about two feet in diameter - just the branch. And as I looked at all the trees I found one still standing, but not much left of it - that must be nearly 12 feet around it's girth at the base. What an old tree that must have been! One of the ones left from the land clearing of those pioneer days - maybe even old in those days.

I come upon a stump - well more than a stump - the bottom part of a tree long gone, and see where it's been chewed and hollowed out. I assume it must be a porcupine that has done this since I don't think pileated woodpeckers work that close to the ground. But the wood appears soft and rotten, so it could well be any creature digging after bugs and worms I suppose that made this crater in the side of the tree.

I loved the frilly, almost lacy look of the fungii in lines running up and down the trunk. Nature at work turning something into something else. Always things change. I remember from physics in those long ago high school days - nothing every is lost or gone it only changes its state. That was a reference to energy but since everything is made up of the same things - atoms - that little bit of wisdom from my teacher stuck with me for some reason and has formed the basis for much of my own personal philosophy.

Don't you love the huge chunks of wood carved out of the trunk? One of Nature's carpenters at work.

And finally - a turkey feather - or maybe from a hawk - but more likely a turkey  - a very large one that thundered up from its hiding place in the bush when the dogs approached.

Just some of the things we found on our walk. Hope you find some interesting things today wherever you are.

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