Friday, March 6, 2015

The Backwoods

At the western edge of the land, just before it rises up toward the old gravel pit slash horse farm, there is a topographical depression, what I will call the swale. Although its origin may be artificial, it is one of the more interesting features of the land.

I walked out to the swale to investigate bark-stripping that, as far as I can tell, is only happening here.

Stripped clean from the base well up the tree, with no broken branches, so it isn't deer rubbing or eating the bark.

Several feet away I spotted this mess and a hodgepodge of prints.

Above it, more stripped bark. An animal that climbs, or flies. Hmm, I'm going with climbs as birds at the base of a tree seems to put them at risk of predators. Probably a rodent, maybe a squirrel.

I see hanging material, which at a distance I took for lichen, on many of the upright twigs. On closer inspection I recognize it as the dried remains of duckweed. Ah, an excellent indicator of the depth of the past summer's vernal pool, which looks to have been nearly two feet in places.

Trees fall easily here, succumbing to the wind and saturated soil, a soil made visible by the exposed root mound of a fallen tree. I wonder how it is that it holds much water at all, as it feels crumbly and porous. This, and the spring which emerges from the base of a tree about two hundred feet from here, reveal a complex hydrology that I've yet to fully understand.

Toward the back and upslope lay an assortment of aggregations; what looks to be concrete, dumped by the gravel mining operation that long ago operated just over the property line.

The aggregations have weathered, moss clings to it now, and one day I may make aesthetic use of this waste. 

An old, plastic six-pack in the swale.

Beyond the swale, up and quickly down again to the edge of the large wetland, a sign painted and hung by Rex. It read "American Trash Museum."

This neck of the woods, at the bottom land of a ravine just beyond our property, is full of cast-off appliances. Some go back fifty or more years. The dump exists at an intersection of what farmers would consider three "wastes" -a ravine, a wetland, and a woods. Well, the woods held some value as a woodlot, and the cows could roam them for munching on all kinds of under-growth (which probably helped the buckthorn get a foothold), but the other two were rarely looked upon kindly by farmers and country men. 

Looking southeast you see the wetland. Where there is little to no grasses there's visible snow, revealing where water is most likely to stand in wetter periods. Here the ravine drains its steep-sided slopes.

Up the ravine, littered mostly with old washing machines, but also empty fifty-five gallon drums and five gallon pails of mostly unknown chemicals. If you live in a second-growth forest that once was part of a farm, on or near a farm, you can probably find this kind of dump, or what remains of it. 

At the top of the ravine, a two hundred feet or so off our land, looking toward the adjacent horse farm and the steep incline of the old gravel pit. 

Trash comes in many forms.

And offers its warnings.

Heading back, one of Rex's many brush piles, consisting mostly of fallen branches. There are ten or twelve of these around the woods, and more could be made, should one choose to.

1 comment:

  1. We often see that kind of bark stripping from porcupines. Along with skunks, they're some of my least favourite neighbors...


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