moments of wonder and joy

1.7.23 ~ song sparrow at Moore Woodlands

Resuming our walks! When we arrived at Moore Woodlands the birds were singing and it sounded like spring. It was 44°F/7°C and cloudy on this warm-for-January day. As we started walking around the meadow a song sparrow came down to the bushes and started singing for us. This made my whole day!

standing out in the meadow
lone tree in the meadow
beech marcescence

It is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
(Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & The Teachings of Plants)

wondering what those rusty maroon blobs are growing with the reindeer moss
~ amber jelly roll mushrooms ~
(thanks to Eliza for the identification)

In the woods we found a great many eastern red cedar trees that must have come down in a storm. Where they fell across the trail they had been cut and moved off to the side. It was interesting seeing the redness of the freshly cut wood.

We also saw a lot of English ivy growing on the ground and climbing some of the trees. I did some research when I got home and learned that the ivy is invasive and greatly weakens the trees they climb, making them more likely to fall during strong winds. It looks like the Avalonia Land Conservancy has been working to remove the ivy from this patch of woodland. We also saw quite a few eastern white pine saplings.

It also looks like the land conservancy is starting to identify the trees with little tags! I’d like to get more familiar with our local trees and welcome this new aid. This was a lovely first walk for the new year. 🙂

28 thoughts on “moments of wonder and joy”

  1. Glad the weather permitted you to take the first walk of the year. There is joy in walking through the woods and seeing all the little details in nature. Enjoyed your photos.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the photos, Peggy. 🙂 It was a good feeling getting back out there and finding treasures in the winter woods.

  2. So wonderful that you were able to get out and take a nice walk … in January, no less! Mother Nature is beautiful in ALL seasons, don’t you agree?

    1. I do agree, Debbie! 🙂 Each season has something beautiful to offer if we’re willing to focus on the positive aspects of the changes. I think that’s why I like following the 8 festivals (solstices, equinoxes and the midpoints between them) on the wheel of the year.

  3. Amber jelly mushrooms. I’ve been seeing orange ones on dead hemlock bark, too. They really stand out! The weather has been so mild, some of the birds here have been singing spring songs here as well. Confusing!

    1. Thank you for the identification, Eliza! Amber is a much better description of their color than the one I came up with. 😉 Looks like they flourish in the winter. Our temperatures have been above normal and spring-like since that arctic blast at Christmas. Confusing, indeed!

  4. Congratulations on resuming your walks again after the push to finish your project, then the holidays Barbara. And isn’t it great to walk on a January day which feels like an early November day? We had a gorgeous day yesterday with some sun – what a great frame of mind I had when I returned home. There is nothing sweeter than the sounds of a Song Sparrow echoing through the woods. The only comparable sound would be when the Red Wing Blackbirds return to Council Point Park in March and start singing in the reeds along the Creek. I know that Spring is on the way, even if the Creek has a thin veil of ice or the landscape is still barren looking. The amber jelly mushrooms were interesting to see – I had no idea what they were. The lichen and reindeer moss is always so interesting in your photos. The tree branches that DTE lineman hacked off my tree and are now on the ground look just like this and about that diameter as well. They were healthy as these probably were before the chainsaw in my case and the wind in your case had their way with them.

    1. It was a refreshing return to walking in the woods, especially with the warm-for-January temperatures and birds singing like it was springtime. I also love the sound of red-winged blackbirds, although I don’t think we have as many here as you do. There is usually a pair in the reeds by the pond down by the beach. Reassurance that spring will come. I do wonder if I had ever seen amber jelly roll mushrooms before, or if they’ve been around all along and I just never noticed them. Apparently they thrive during the winter. That’s so sad about your trees. I read online that the berries of the eastern red cedar are an important source of food for more than 50 bird species. I wonder if you could salvage any of the wood for a small piece of furniture? It’s aromatic and protects woolen clothing. Make some cedar chips maybe?

      1. I must admit there is a spring in my step when I hear the call of a red-winged blackbird and we have a lot of them at the Park, especially since one side of the walking path goes along a marshy area, so they are everywhere. And, they eat peanuts, so they, like the cardinals and jays will follow me as they know where I will be putting the seeds and peanuts down. They are pretty bold and fly down almost to my feet. I have to get more photos this year of them. I have gotten pics of them on the ground next to the squirrels. I don’t recall seing those amber jelly roll mushrooms before and will be on the lookout at woodsy venues for them going forward. I will have to see if I can get something done with the pieces … I heard the DTE guys with their chain saws and went out after they left and was a little horrified, although DTE had inspected the trees and said they would trim them at some point – that was several years ago and when I had flickering lights two years ago, they sent a DTE tree trimmer out to see if the trees were the culprit – they said no and could wait. I asked if it would be wise for me to hire a tree trimmer to get it done (worrying about power outages) and his answer was “no, let us do that for you, just wait, I’ll ensure you are the list.” I am curious if my lilac tree is a loss or if it will come back. That is a good idea that you have Barbara – I like that.

        1. Like the old saying goes, if you want to get something done you have to do it yourself. Your poor trees… Was your lilac tree the kind with a wonderful scent? I hope it comes back for you. I was happy to learn that the amber jelly roll mushrooms are native. At first glance I thought they looked pretty ominous and threatening and perhaps invasive!

          1. My lilac tree did have a wonderful scent Barbara – there were two, planted like bookends on either side of the back garden. Way over on the other side is the other lilac tree and it is dark purple flowers – this one light purple flowers. I had to keep it from getting “attacked” from neighbor Marge’s wisteria which was always tangling into it. Marge trimmed it, but after she died, her son did nothing with it – the wisteria wound tendrils around it and tried to choke it if I was diligent pruning the wisteria away. I also lost a “Miss Kim” miniature lilac bush which was in the back garden where the fire was. It was pale lilacs but it didn’t always bloom – in fact I planted it in the 90s as Marge had one and we liked it and it didn’t bloom until a few years ago. I look at the back yard every day when I go to check the generator light is on and just shake my head. The person behind me had a white vinyl lattice fence they attached to the chain-link fence and I just noticed one day last week that it was melted where the fire had been. Interesting how we can see something like the amber jelly roll mushroom and not have a clue what is is and probably passed it before and it didn’t catch our eye.

          2. I have a wisteria competing with the river birch in our little garden. I love them both but wish I had them planted farther apart! It’s going to take you a while to think through the best way to proceed with restoring or redesigning your garden. It could be fun having a fresh start. 🙂

          3. I could not believe how those tendrils reached into my yard and they seemed to grow a foot between cuttings. Marge never trained it – she bought an arbor with wooden seats on either side, but she never trained it to weave through the arbor – it was wild. I get what you mean about your wisteria and birch being too close to one another. I do look at the garden every day, still mindful of the arborvitae idea … all the bushes and likely the lilac tree will need to come out and likely those trees as well. I still like the idea of the mulched path with wildflowers rather than grass back there – it’s a small yard. Still dwelling on it. 🙂

          4. I don’t have an arbor for mine either and Tim has to whack it back severely with the heavy duty clippers every spring after it blooms. It does grow remarkably fast! It’s easier to cut the branches and twigs on the birch back to give it some room. I love them both and I wish they weren’t competing! A mulched path with wildflowers sounds lovely. 🙂 There is a trend away from maintaining lawns which I wish our condo complex would embrace. The sounds and smells of the gas-powered lawn mowers all summer drives me crazy.

          5. I have to look for my wildflower path pic because I thought it was doable. The house I have spotlighted a few times in my blog has ivy ground cover instead of grass and it looks great and it is a corner lot. Not a speck of grass. They have rocks embedded in the ground cover and perennial Spring flowers planted and when it all comes together it is a really homey look.

          6. It sounds wonderful! My mother had a rock garden with shade-loving ground covers and a few perennials between the rocks and I loved the natural woodsy feel of it. It sounds like a lot of fun for you, planning and planting a new garden, a symbolic fresh start. 🙂 Do you have room for a bench?

          7. Yes, it could be brought back to its original form I think Barbara. I would have room for a bench and wanted one before, but I thought it might crack over the Winter, even if covered with a tarp. They look so nice in the garden.

          8. I suppose you could bring an outdoor lounge chair to the garden for the warmer months. It would be fun and peaceful to read a book out there in your pretty garden. Sometimes I really miss having our own private outdoor space.

          9. It’s been years since I sat out there – I got away from doing that but when I had the butterfly garden, I would sit outside with my camera and take their photos. I can see how you could miss it as you enjoy gardening.

          10. That must have been so enjoyable, being surrounded by butterflies and taking their pictures! No need to read a book with that happening all around you. 🦋

          11. It was and I’d run out in the afternoon to top off the birdbaths (I had four at the time – 2 big, a medium and a small) and see butterflies and run back inside for my camera. I had a 4X zoom camera at the time, so I had to stand pretty close to take their photos, but they still came out clear – the butterflies were so intent on sipping nectar that they stayed in place.

  5. Another lovely walk. How wonderful that the sparrow sang for you! The inner markings (rings) of red cedars are so beautiful. Some of ours fell, too, and the cut ends sometimes look like hearts.

    I love that quote from Robin Wall Kimmerer (I loved her book, too). I am thinking it would do me good to place those words front and center, to be reminded of joy.

    1. Even a wounded world… those words come often into my consciousness. It is amazing how beautiful the world still is, and how much it provides for us in spite of our recklessness and selfishness, she keeps on giving. I’ve started reading another Robin Wall Kimmerer book, Gathering Moss: A Natural & Cultural History of Mosses. What a gifted nature writer she is.

  6. Oh how I enjoyed this winter walk with you, Barbara, thank you. The greeting of the song sparrow, the bare tree and lots of lichen and growth on the trunks. I was especially dazzled by the cut cedar tree. I’ve never seen a cut cedar, and you’re right, they are so rich inside. Lovely quote too, and one I really identified with. Have never heard of her, thanks for the intro. Cheers to you for a new year of nature and joy and good times.

    1. So happy to introduce you to Robin Wall Kimmerer, Jet. She’s an amazing botanist and engaging nature writer, blending indigenous wisdom with modern science. I love both her books. Those words ~ even a wounded world ~ often come to my mind when I walk in the woods or by the sea and notice how much beauty there is on this planet in spite of all the damage and harm we humans have caused. Best wishes to you, my friend.

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