Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Big Meander

     It's definitely winter outside and so my usual sunrise walk with a friend was cancelled.  Our rule is: if the temperature falls below 20 degrees and the wind is blowing, the walk is cancelled.  But, by 10:00 the wind had calmed a bit and the temperature had risen to 25 degrees.
     If I don't get outside, I get cranky, so after some post-Christmas clean up (yes, I just took my tree down), I bundled up and stepped out.  I decided to avoid the road today and instead meander the fence-line of the field in front of my house.  That way Luke, my beagle, could walk with me.
     This field is one that I see every day from the north and west facing windows in my house.  A river runs through it.  There are marshy ditches, a small copse of wild apples, an abandoned graveyard, and a tiny cliff. I decided on a path that would visit them all.
      The copse of wild apples was a delightful surprise.  From the house, it's just a tangle of trees, but the cows spend much of their summer meadow-time hanging out there, and I discovered a path that they had tamped and trammeled right through the middle

     At the bottom edge, the path dissolved into a marshy ditch which was covered with a sheet of glassy ice, giving me a clear view of the bottom. While there were no signs of life, there was evidence.  Tiny holes dotted the silt and, although I guessed that they might be signs of the tiny peeper frogs who sing up spring, when I looked it up I found I was wrong.  Spring Peepers sing and mate on the edges of thawing puddles, but they hibernate under leaves and bark, sometimes freezing almost solid before spring wakes them up.  I don't know what made the little holes that I saw.
      Next, at river's edge, I discovered beautiful cones of ice, around the bottom of each stem of grass that grew in or within splashing range of the water.

 As I walked, Luke ran circles around me, seeing with his nose things I could only imagine.  At several places he stopped and rolled onto his back, grinning in upside down delight.  I wonder what marvelous dead animal perfume he found? Perhaps Eau de Decayed Skunk or Parfum de Possum. Although I couldn't see the remains of his wiggly euphoria, we did discover tracks in some of the snow, evidence of a cat, maybe mine, prowling through the night.
    One set of tracks was older, left in the snow when it was mush.  Last night's freeze had turned each print into a lattice-work of crystals.

 As we left river's edge and turned toward the barn, the wind was no longer at my back, but biting my cheeks and nose.  The lee of the barn was a quiet reprieve, almost warm where the wind couldn't blow.  No wonder the sheep spend all their time there.

As I climbed the last hill on the way to the house, I stopped in the graveyard to pay my respects to Samuel Wilson.  His stone is subsiding into the grass, helped along by the tunneling of at least one groundhog.  Above the stone, a lone bird's nest had pocketed a bit of snow.

    Finally, I made my last right turn, and followed the fence home.  The brisk wind bit my nose and cheeks, making the warmth of the wood stove a welcoming friend.

1 comment:

  1. Honored that you took us all on this walk with you. Will you take us on more?!


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