long winter shadows

12.23.23 ~ Carolina North Forest

Our first winter holidays in North Carolina were amazing! Our walks were few and far between, though, due to all the other activities. Time to get back on track and back to the blogosphere.

Look back on Time, with kindly Eyes —
He doubtless did his best —
How softly sinks the trembling Sun
In Human Nature’s West —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1251)

eastern bluebird

I think if I’m going to photograph more birds we will have to visit more gardens than forests. The trees seem to be so much taller down here and my zoom lens just doesn’t reach those high perches to capture the winged creatures that well. But I’m including this bluebird picture anyway to remind me how nice it was to see and hear a few of them, way overhead, that day. 🙂

fading autumn

11.19.23 ~ Bolin Forest, Carrboro, North Carolina

On a chilly Sunday morning my friend Susan came over so we could take a very local wander in the woodlands. Susan has been living in this area many years so she led the way. Down the hill from us, on the edge of the neighborhood, is Bolin Creek, which runs through Bolin Forest. It might become a go-to place for Tim and me when we don’t want to have to drive somewhere for a nice walk.

crossing Bolin Creek
looking up Bolin Creek
reflections
beech leaves and shortleaf pine (?) bark
little holes in the bark might be resin pockets

A very unique bark characteristic separating shortleaf pine from loblolly, longleaf, and other southern pine species. These are resin pockets, also described by various references as “spherical pitch pockets,” “small spots of resin,” and “volcanoes.”
~ N.C. Cooperative Extension website

heavily shaded pine grove
eastern white pine (?)
marcescence with pine backdrop
leaf dam in Bolin Creek

Your thoughts don’t have words every day
They come a single time
Like signal esoteric sips
Of the communion Wine

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1476)

harvest season begins

“Potato Harvest” by Camille Pissarro

Except in magnificent floral displays, August is not a favorite month with the naturalist. The characteristic features of summer are well-nigh over, and when we linger in the shade of the old oaks, our thoughts are more apt to revert to what has been, than to become centered upon what is. And yet how prone we are to forget the character of the seasons, once they are passed!
~ Charles Conrad Abbott
(Days Out of Doors)

birds and sleigh bells

“Last Snow” by Konstantin Korovin

You wouldn’t think it was spring, Austin, if you were at home this morning, for we had a great snowstorm yesterday, and things are all white this morning. It sounds funny enough to hear birds singing and sleigh-bells at a time. But it won’t last long, so you needn’t think ’twill be winter at the time when you come home.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to William Austin Dickinson, March 24, 1852)

Springtime snowstorms were not uncommon in southern New England a hundred seventy-one years ago. They happened often enough when I was a child, sixty odd years ago. I prepared this post several years ago, hoping that we might get one again and I could use Emily’s words to go along with the weather. But it was not to be and since this is my last spring in New England I decided to post it now, in fond memory of times gone by.

for it knew now where it was going

3.3.23 ~ Sheep Farm
remains of 18th century grist mill dam

We first came to this open space property three years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, and have been here many times since. Since we know we’re going to North Carolina in a few months this visit seemed special because we were well aware that we may never pass this way again.

standing on top of the dam looking upstream at Fort Hill Brook

A few days ago I spent some time sorting through my “walks” index file, pulling our favorite walks out of the rotation so we might visit them one last time before we go. Please forgive me for this very lengthy post. I want to save as many picture memories as possible!

the lower side of the dam

Usually we walk down to the waterfall and back up the hill, but this time we explored two side trails. First we walked upstream to the dam and walked out on it until the break which lets the brook through now. Then we hopped down off the dam and walked along the brook, getting a different view. With no leaves on the trees yet we could see a lot of the features in the woods.

dam in upper left quarter of picture
the break to restore the water flow is visible between the two dam sections
the dam is above the waterfall, behind me

By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” But all the little streams higher up in the Forest went this way and that, quickly, eagerly, having so much to find out before it was too late.
~ A. A. Milne
(The House at Pooh Corner)

turning around, looking down over the waterfall to the footbridge below

We had never been at the top of the waterfall before. Tim even went out over it a little bit. My legs didn’t seem long enough to jump down where he was.

Tim at the top of the waterfall
from near the top of the waterfall

Then we found the main trail again and made our way down to below the waterfall. I was looking forward to getting pictures of an old tree with amazing roots extending into the brook.

an impressive glacial erratic on along the trail down to the waterfall
the back of the old tree with amazing roots
looking at the waterfall from the footbridge downstream
looking at the waterfall from the opposite side of the brook
the front of the old tree with amazing roots

After crossing the footbridge and getting the above pictures we decided to follow a new trail for a little bit. Sheep Farm South, a property adjoining this one, was purchased by the Groton Open Space Association in April 2021. New trails were created on it and linked to the existing ones on Sheep Farm. So we started down this one which passes by a large moss covered outcrop. It was taller than Tim.

there were many kinds of mosses on this large outcrop
a dripping icicle at the end of a branch sticking out of the outcrop
layers at the top of the outcrop
moss sprouting out of lichen
looking back along the outcrop
moss at eye level, a different perspective than usual

After we passed the outcrop we found a path that went up above it and walked through the woods a bit until we circled around and spotted the waterfall below us. I’m pretty sure the little vine below is partridge berry. It looks like the plant my brother-in-law identified for us at Connecticut College Arboretum, although not as lush looking.

partridge berry (Tim found it!)
waterfall viewed from up high above the outcrop
scorias spongiosa on beech leaves
scorias spongiosa coating beech twigs
one side of the old tree with amazing roots

Before crossing the footbridge I noticed a side view of the tree with the water hugging roots. It was a rough trip back up the long hill to the parking lot because Tim’s sciatica started acting up, but he made it. Perhaps we strayed a little too far this time but we did get to see a lot of things we haven’t seen before.

one side of broken tree with hole
other side of broken tree with hole

Packing boxes have arrived and I’m feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of the task before us but it was great spending a little time outside in the woods we will miss so much.

cutting our ancient shortcomings

image credit: pixabay

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same thing last year about this time.
~ Mark Twain
(Mark Twain Speaks for Himself)

winter comes to us

“Last Touch of Sun” by John Henry Twachtman

On this, the shortest day of all the 365, I wander over the covered paths of the garden hillside. I wade through the drifts along the swamp edge. I walk over the snow-covered ice among the catttails. The wind is gone. The day is still. The world is decorated with unmarred snow. This is winter with winter beauty everywhere. Autumn is finally, officially, gone. Like the evening of the day, the fall has been a time of ceaseless alteration. Cold, in the autumn, is overcoming the heat just as darkness, in the evening, is overcoming the light. All around, in recent months, there have been changes in a thousand forms. The days of easy warmth were passing, then past. Birds departed. Threadbare trees lost their final leaves. Nuts fell from the branches. Pumpkins and corn turned yellow in the fields. For animals and men alike, this was the time of harvest. The phantom summer, Indian summer, came and went. The chorus of the insects died away in nightly frosts. Goldenrod tarnished; grass clumps faded from green to yellow. Milkweed pods gaped open and their winged seeds took flight. The windrows of fallen leaves withered, lost their color, merged into one universal brown. Now they are buried beneath the new and seasonal beauty of the snow. Autumn, the evening of the year, is over; winter, the night of the year, has come.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)

~ winter solstice ~
(4:47 pm eastern time zone)

sundown for the year

“Last Hour of the Day” by T. C. Steele

In the garden the dry rustle of leaves, stirred by the breeze, has taken the place of the insect music of only a month ago. Most of the crickets are gone. The clock of their little lives has run down, never to be rewound. At sunset, the breeze dies. All sounds are low or short or subdued. This is the sundown of the day and the month. It is sundown for the year as well.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)

flora by the sea

10.10.22 ~ Cognitive Garden at Avery Point

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day my good friend Janet and I took a long afternoon walk from Eastern Point to Avery Point and back again, passing by Beach Pond both ways. The weather was picture perfect, if a bit on the breezy side.

After admiring the views of Long Island Sound and identifying the various islands and lighthouses we could see on a clear day, we found the “Cognitive Garden” on the Avery Point campus. There was still a lot of interest to see there in the middle of autumn. Textures and colors.

Cognition means to acquire knowledge through the senses, experience, and thought. A cognitive garden encourages learning through these three processes while exposing people to nature. While the benefits of nature extend to all ages, young children learn primarily through their senses and a multitude of studies have demonstrated a correlation between sensory stimulation and brain development.
~ University of Connecticut, Avery Point Campus website

The naturalist is a civilized hunter. He goes goes alone into a field or woodland and closes his mind to everything but that time and place, so that life around him presses in on all the senses and small details grow in significance. He begins the scanning search for which cognition was engineered. His mind becomes unfocused, it focuses on everything, no longer directed toward any ordinary task or social pleasantry.
~ E. O. Wilson
(Biophilia)

black-eyed Susan

I wish I could include the smell of a patch of thyme for you, dear readers. What an amazing scent filled the air!

thyme ~ it smelled wonderful!
a bee enjoying the smell, too

On the way back I was happy to see that Beach Pond was full of water again, although we were still in a moderate drought that day. I suspect Thursday’s torrential rains may have moved us up into the abnormally dry category. No waterbirds around but still some flowers blooming, and others spent.

asters at Beach Pond
cattails with fluff

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver
(Red Bird: Poems)

the pond is full of water and the breeze was making little ripples
juvenile song sparrow
backside of a lingering swamp rose mallow and orbs
swamp rose mallow bud and orbs

It felt so good sauntering along and catching up with a friend!!!