Thursday, December 19, 2013

Yellow Footprints

An outside walk was absolutely necessary today.  Air temperatures were well above freezing with fifty plus degrees forecast for the weekend.  Warm rain will soon melt all of this snow.  This was a last chance to tramp about in our December snow.  New sightings were there if one looked closely.

Frost had entered the ground in advance of the snowfalls.  Despite recent days where the air temperature remained below freezing, the insulative blanket of snow kept that cold away from the surface and allowed the warmth of mother earth to thaw the covered ground.  As I walked back down the lane today, I was surprised to see that my incoming tracks were well wet with yellow moisture.  Organic litter that had fallen from the trees was decomposing in melt water trickling under the snow.  A water bar at the base of the hill directs runoff into my woods.  Solids settle out in the deep leaves that cover my nearly level ground.  Each spring I harvest this black gold and use it to enrich soil around my cultivated wild flowers.  I cannot work my garden today but natural processes are at work helping with next year's garden.

A stone bench marks the final resting place of  Becky's parents.  Its location was selected in a somewhat remote spot that overlooks a long ago favored fishing hole.  Two quarried blue stone slabs cap this bench and Vermont marble marks the graves but the bench is built with stone found here. The end stone that rests on an outward slope may work itself free in a geologic time scale but its placement remains solid for now.

This huge red maple tree was the first treasure found when we initially looked at this land.  Its location near the declining end of a bedrock ridge saved it from the early farmer's axe.  Between two of the numerous trunks was a hollow that perfectly fit my back.  Every hike here included time with me standing almost in this tree.  The first trunk to fall had formed my sanctuary.  Now a second trunk is nearly on the ground.  Its snow cap neatly outlines the fallen giant.

My plan was to have my ashes scattered at the base of this tree.  It seems to be failing faster than me so a new plan is needed.  My stone walls seem to be holding up over time.  Perhaps one of them will  do.

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