When I was young, fields and woods started at the edge of our yard, and went southwest for miles, with hardly a house to be seen. In my short lifetime there has been more subdivision of land, and more building here, than in the previous three hundred years. Somehow, “development” has so far spared some of this ground near our house, and there is still a remnant of this wild land, with trails to walk on.
Before breakfast, early on an unseasonably warm February morning, human and dog set out for forty-five minutes of shake-a-leg. Dampness and mist filled the air.
Soon after starting, we had to take a mini-detour around a recently fallen oak. Quite a few trees have fallen in the past year. There’s usually a reason. Weak structure. Imbalance. Rot and carpenter ants hollowing out the stem. Then all that’s needed to take the tree down is a good puff of wind. One of these days I’ll take the chainsaw back there, and restore easy passage.
We came to one of our landmarks, a big glacial erratic boulder that sits on the ridgetop. At this point we have to decide whether to go right, into the valley, or to continue going along the ridge.
There are some fine and well-branched beech trees alongside the path.
Farther on, the path goes by the summer house of some people from Away. It’s aWe took a turn through their yard, and admired a rock sculpture at the edge of their lawn.
I tried a panorama shot, for some reason, and got an image that would have pleased John Cage, who so appreciated the role of chance and “accident” in art.
Coquina ended up mirroring the split granite in a Picassoeque manner.
Some beeches attract people with pocketknives. Some people think that to cut the bark of a tree is a terrible desecration of nature. I’m not so sure. I look at this tree, and I know who EWA is, and have heard the story, from someone who was with him at the time, of his carving his initials in this tree. EWA died some time ago. But here he is still, in the bark of this beech tree. He’s still talking to people, even though he’s gone. It makes me think that carving your initials in a tree is not always a bad thing.
The day is warm for the season. With the mild temperatures and ample moisture, today is happy time for lichens and mosses. Other plants are sensing that spring is getting near. In our yard at home, daffodil shoots are testing the air, and the first snowdrop blossoms hang from curving stems.
We’ve gone along the ridge, then down into the valley for the leg home. As we get near, we ascend to the ridge again, and four legs leads two legs for the last few hundred yards of the walk. Now that we have Coquina, the dog who would be perfectly happy to trot five or ten miles a day, we’re out walking more than we were before she came into our lives.