Walktober

IMG_2526I’ve been inspired by A Forest Garden post to join the Walktober challenge at Breezes at Dawn. Every October Robin sets forth the challenge for folks to post a walk they have taken, then she links them all together for a cross-blog stroll. What a fun idea!

Today my spouse and I went to for a walk at Bullitt Reservation, a property managed by The Trustees of Reservations. From their website:

Once a poor farm, and then later part of the country retreat of first U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union William C. Bullitt and his daughter Ann, this eye-pleasing blend of fields and farm buildings, mixed woodlands, and streams forms a crucial link in almost 3,000 acres of protected land.

IMG_2477Less than a mile long, the trail starts at the farm near a beaver pond, crosses a field and enters a sloping woodland forest. For the first half of the trail, we walk past many old-growth sugar maples with girths four to five feet in diameter that tower overhead. Big grandmother trees! I had to take two photos to show the whole tree. My husband provides scale to give you an idea of how big this one is. I love old maples and this wood has many fine ones.

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IMG_2492Sadly, a few of these trees have begun to die, some due to rot and old age, others to wind or ice storms. Pieces of broken trunks and rotting limbs can be seen throughout the first quarter mile. Covered with mushrooms, lichen and moss, nothing ever truly dies in the forest. It just changes form and becomes something else.

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We passed a hemlock tree stump riddled with holes probably made by pileated woodpeckers that love the soft wood, making gathering insects within an easier job.

Near the top of the trail there is a large glacial erratic boulder that was deposited by the last receding glacier 10-15,ooo years ago. It is referred to as ‘The Pebble.’ In the photo, my husband humorously pretends to be Atlas holding up the earth. That gave me a good idea for a Halloween costume. You could get one of those inflatable globes and somehow attach it to your shoulders. Or perhaps creative types could fashion a globe out of a balloon covered with papier mache and painted to look like the earth. If you try it, send me a photo!

IMG_2503Once past The Pebble, the trail wends its way back down hill. There were golden-leaved beech trees as well as russet oak trees in peak color. Pine and hemlock added a deep green. As we came out of the forest, the hillside across the valley became visible.

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Out in the field the vista opens up and you can see for miles across the valley to the hills beyond. I am not great at judging distances, but I would guess you could see at least ten miles. If there are any geographers out there, correct me if I am mistaken!

The Trustees are great trail blazers and thoughtfully put a bench at the top of the field so we could rest and enjoy the view. I took a photo this summer from this same spot and posted it, so you can look back and compare the views. Maybe I’ll snowshoe out here this winter and again in the spring, so you’ll see all four seasons. The change in three months is quite amazing!IMG_2522

Although this photo doesn’t show early autumn’s glorious peak of maple trees and white birch, it does show the rusty red, ochre and mustard of oak, beech and poplar. The clouds were pretty dramatic, carried along on a brisk wind, creating spots of sunlight racing across the hills. It was too cold to tarry long, so we made our way down across a large hayfield, through a few trees to complete the loop back to where we started.

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This is becoming one of my favorite walks due to its ease of hiking, not too long and with beauty everywhere I look. What is not to love?

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The farmhouse and barn reflected in the beaver pond.

 

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Today’s Quote

Eliza Waters:

A good quote to ponder…

Originally posted on Soul Gatherings:

stairs I

Your path is your own, but you must walk side by side with others,
with compassion and generosity as your beacons.
If anything is required, it is this:
fearlessness in your examination of life and death;
willingness to continually grow; and,
openness to the possibility that the ordinary is extraordinary,
and that your joys and your sorrows have meaning and mystery.

~ Elizabeth Lesser ~
_____________________

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Green Frog

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Here is one of the handsome green frogs that take up residence every summer in the small pond outside our front door. This fellow came out to enjoy the sun on one of warm days we had last week, basking on the little pagoda lantern right near the edge.

I believe our visitors are drawn by the sound of water splashing in the fountain. On summer evenings while we sit conversing on the porch, they will put in a word or two with a “ka-dunk” or “bar-umph,” often hilariously well-timed to our conversations, like they are agreeing or putting in their two cents.

Because this shallow pond freezes solid every winter and kills any amphibians that attempt to hibernate in it, every fall we must drain it, relocating all the residents to overwinter in a muddy lagoon in the river below the house. Last year we captured 14 frogs of various sizes, all of them showing up over the course of one summer. So in the next week or two, when I make time for such an undertaking, this guy will be headed to safer winter quarters. I wonder if he will wake up in the spring and start heading up the hill, remembering his idyllic summerhouse?

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Autumn Light

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There’s something about light filtering through autumn leaves that reminds me of opaque stained glass, but with even greater luminosity than anything manmade. Its beauty is all the more special because it is so ephemeral.

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Seeds

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For plants, Autumn is about setting fruit and producing seeds; ensuring the perpetuation of the species is the purpose of life in Nature. Above is a seed pod from Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium canadense), now dry and beginning to split open, awaiting the autumn winds to disperse the winged seeds. I am amazed at the sheer abundance of neatly layered seeds that line each of the six chambers within a single pod. This one pod has over 200 seeds! The plant I took it from had thirteen pods.

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Such is the generosity of Nature. If you’ve ever wondered if God loves you, here is your answer!

Although rodents and birds probably consume a lot of the seed, there are always enough to ensure a new crop to sprout in the coming spring. We ‘help’ by gathering a few of the pods to sow in different spots along our paths that have ideal growing conditions – full to part sun and rich, evenly moist soil. It takes several years for the seed to grow into a bulb large enough to produce a flowering stalk, providing it isn’t eaten by rodents or deer. A risky business, but well worth the wait!

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Country Road

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“Take me home, country road…”

When I drive down the country roads near my home, this popular song by John Denver often pops into my head. I sometimes exchange “Massachusetts” for “West Virginia” because it seems to perfectly describe my rural area. I visited Wikipedia and was surprised to learn that the composer may have been describing our area after all!

Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver, and initially recorded by John Denver.

Danoff (from Springfield, MA) has stated he had never been in West Virginia before co-writing the song.[citation needed] He had even briefly considered using “Massachusetts” rather than “West Virginia”, as both four-syllable state names would have fit the song’s meter.

I guess it is true that you learn something new every day. “Almost heaven, Massachusetts…”  It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Hope you’re having a wonderful day, wherever you are!

 

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Canopy

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I love to look up through the tree canopy to the sky above in any season, but in autumn with the foliage on fire, this practice fills me with wonder and delight.IMG_2214

I never tire of it, Nature’s beauty knows no bounds!IMG_2256The hills are tapestries of color, peaking this week in our area of New England. Driving through the countryside, I marvel at the glory of red, orange and gold, interwoven with accents of evergreen.IMG_2246 IMG_2247All too fleeting, I find myself pausing to drink it in, knowing full well that with every passing breeze and raindrop that falls, this show will be coming to an end. Enjoy this brilliant moment!

 

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