December 31, 2005
We had more than fifty inches of snow before winter officially began, so for a while my woods were piled with white, everything muffled and quiet, even the wildlife. Then this week, warm winds whipped through, melting layers of snow. When I walked through the woods, water dripped from the trees, a constant trickle. Beneath the melting snowbanks, I could glimpse brilliant mosses and green ferns pressed tight against the ground.
My woods are nothing spectacular: no scenic vistas, no mountains to climb, no pristine wilderness. As I walk, I can see scars, marks left by other humans – old logging roads, lines of pines planted by the CCC, bits of barbed wire fences left by farmers, lines of old oak trees that once edged a farm field, the occasional fruit tree planted by someone long ago, and stumps, decaying stumps everywhere.
But every day, even though I take the same path, the woods are different. Today, the temperature had dropped, and all the melting piles of snow had frozen, the ground covered with weird grey puddles edged with curving lines of white. The ice crunched under my feet as I tramped through. I could tell the deer had been moving – tracks and scats everywhere. How much easier it is for them to find food when the thick layer of snow melts.
As I walked back to the house, it began to snow again, and the paths I had taken minutes earlier already looked different, the hemlocks holding the snow, the bark of the scotch pines turning white.
My woods change constantly. They are moody, you might say. I love that.
Posted by jo(e)