Today we were blessed with beautiful, lightly falling snow so I took a very long walk in the woods. Not only was I feeling sort of cooped up today, but I was experiencing that feeling you get (often at work) when your space is a mess, and you just know that you are not going to be able to do anything productive until you clean it up. My mind was feeling a bit like that and so I decided that a long walk might do the trick.
There is nothing like a long, quiet walk in the woods to help you sort out your head. I spend equal parts thinking and not thinking while I walk. Usually I have a somewhat designated route in mind, but today I just wandered for a few hours. Slowly sorting the detritus of my head into categories, tossing stray thoughts into mental boxes, and arranging the boxes in the closet of my mind.
There is little pond up the hill from my house that I visit often. I like to sit at the base of the Oak tree that grows on the bank and just think. It’s a quiet spot and there are always acorns to toss into the pond, which make satisfying little plops and rings in the water in the summer months. In the winter there is usually ice to skim them across. Today the snow prevented acorn tossing, so I hiked on.
The sun kept trying to come out today and occasionally you could see it shining through the clouds. It lit up this patch of Pines so I stopped for awhile and just kind of admired how it was sunny and cloudy and snowy all at the same time.
The back side of the swamp ponds is pretty. You can only walk through this side in the winter once things freeze up. The water isnt that deep here, but goes over your boots in the summer. Kinda fun to walk around the big dead trees. Rescued a lure I lost this summer.
Took to the back ridge for awhile and got onto some deer tracks from last night. Looking like a little superhighway. Lead right to where they have been bedding down. Actually spooked a few out and they took off. We are now into February and food is getting more limited, so there is a lot of activity all around the Oak trees. They have tore up the ground pretty good looking for acorns.
I love this little stream that winds along the side of this Spruce stand. It runs all year. The water in the stream was crystal clear. Followed that as it meandered for awhile.
I have always loved this little patch of clubmoss (Lycopodium obscurum). Many call it ‘Princess Pine’. Neat little plant. Love the way the little their little strobili (now we’re getting plant dorky, for simplicity’s sake let’s call them cones….) were sticking up out of the snow.
I took a diversity of plants class in college as an elective. Only woody trees and shrubs was required, but I took all the plant courses. That course focused on mosses, ferns, liverworts and other assorted types of plants…. and clubmoss in particular have always been one of my favorites. They are protected in New York State. Years ago people used to pick them for Christmas arrangements and whatnot and as usual, they overdid it. Patches like this can take years to form. They only grow where the conditions are just right. Unique little friends.
On the way back I wandered through this stand of Balsams. Kicked out a few grouse. Scared the heck out of me. Love the way the snow collects on the Balsams. Also the most delicious smelling portion of my walk. I will post the snowy video to Facebook/Instagram accounts.
Arrived back home wonderfully tired and feeling a little sorted out in my head. Nature sure is good for that.
Whenever I walk in the woods in the winter I always think about the Robert Frost poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. We had a copy of Frost’s poems when I was a kid and my dad used to read to me from it. This one has always been my favorite. I will leave you with my favorite lines from it…
“The only other sound’s the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, 1923