Sunday, December 29, 2013
A Winter Walk In The Woods
Calm air and dwindling snow cover suggested that it was time for a walk in the woods. Walking on thin new snow leaves footprints that can help the rescue squad find me if need be or help me find my way out should I venture too far into the forest. Despite inadequate preparations for a long walk, the experience was safely concluded and pleasant in every way. The stillness that fills a snow covered forest soon extends deep inside the hiker and quiets his very soul.
Our most reliable spring run prompted the first picture. A large bedrock slab covers the origin of the water flow and is itself covered with green growth that flourishes in this favorable spot. The rock provides a dry path over this moist area. Uphill from here is a small shallow pond that has its overflow blocked by slightly higher ground. That pond is most likely the source of our spring water.
This galvanized wire cage smashes the natural aspect of a walk in the wild. During our first year here, Becky found dwarf ginseng in bloom on this spot but we were unable to find it again for many years. When the lost was finally found, the cage was added for protection and to mark the spot. The plant continues to grow here but with no increase in its numbers.
Permission was granted by the farmer to our east for me to walk on his wooded ridge. It looks like he has begun to open a roadway between his two farms. The downed trees grew on the other side of the fence so a wind of unusual direction must have toppled them. The number of posted signs facing each other here is large and created a feeling that I was walking in a no man's land. No shots were fired while I was there but the signs did dampen the tranquil feelings of a quiet walk in the woods.
A glacial erratic never fails to catch my eye. The enormity of the forces required to move one contrasted with the apparently gentle nature of the transport that left the stone intact seems to me to be a basic contradiction. If this is not one rock resting atop another, then I am confused by the different angles of the bedding planes. The basic question of exactly how this rock was formed lacks a complete answer by me.
Iron in some form colored the sediments that formed this red rock. The varying thickness of the layers is a record of the relative severity of the rain storms that sent the sediments roaring into the sea. A storm lasting many days might have preceded the formation of the thick layer. Now lichens and moss are feeding on the surface of the rock creating new soil. Weathering is opening up the tiny voids between layers. A cause of the diagonal crack was not apparent to me. The surface of the stone looks somewhat soft but I saw no need to investigate its hardness with a scratch. Except for an occasional protective wire cage, we prefer to leave things as we found them.