Archive for May, 2016

May 27 2016

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The Ten-acre Wood

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10 Acre WoodTemps reached into the 90s today – the hottest day so far this year. Ridiculously hot for May. I went for a short walk in nearby woods anyway.

After visiting the house under construction that will soon be home to Judy, my dog Matika and me, I slipped into the Ten-acre Wood. That’s the name I’ve given the woodlot less than a hundred yards from where I will most likely spend the rest of my life. Most of the woodlot will be developed someday, but for the time being it’s mine to enjoy.

I’ve been following the procession of wildflowers in the Ten-acre Wood since early spring when bloodroot and hepatica came out. Trilliums and trout lilies soon followed, then came violets, bleeding hearts, and a host of subtle bloomers. Most of those are gone now as the canopy overhead has closed. But today I found Jack hidden in the lush greenery covering the forest floor. Jack-in-the-pulpit, that is – a wildflower that is easily missed.

Jack’s an old friend of mine. We’ve had some good times together during my past springtime excursions into deep woods. It’s good to see him taking up residence close to where I’ll soon be living. Or is it the other way around?

No doubt I will make other delightful discoveries in that woodlot during the years ahead. I still plan on making lots of trips to much wilder places, but it’s nice knowing that I’ll soon be able to take a twenty-minute break from my computer and tramp this small, wild place. Sometimes a few minutes among the trees is all I need to clear my head. What a blessing to have such a place close by!


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May 19 2016

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Urban Wildness

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urban wildnessI took my dog Matika with me when I went book hunting in Burlington yesterday, thereby committing to a short hike at some point. At midday I stopped by a city park only to find it closed. Hmm… Went to another place along the Winooski River, parked my car and slipped into the woods. Matika dashed ahead.

I followed the trail as long as I could then drifted into the trackless woods. Matika followed. A short while later we dropped into a ravine as wild as it was beautiful despite discarded tires, a little trash, and the rusty remnant of an old car. I followed a dry creek bed leading nowhere, all the while listening to the sounds of the bustling city around me.

This is how I got my start as a woods wanderer many years ago, tramping through undeveloped pockets in urban settings, enjoying a taste of wildness close to home. The half-burnt pieces of wood in a circle of stones that I found assured me that kids today enjoy this wildness as I once did… as I still do.

The tramp didn’t last long. There wasn’t anywhere else to go once I had reached the river at one end of the ravine, and the power lines at the other. No matter. Matika got a chance to stretch her legs, and I got a taste of wildness during the middle of my workday. That would have to do for the time being.



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May 09 2016

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verdureA cool, overcast day in early May. I head for Aldis Hill to run my dog. I tell myself that it’s all for Matika, but I need to stretch my legs as much as she does. We’ve both been indoors too long.

I meander up the trail in no rush, noting all the wildflowers in bloom along the way: purple trillium, dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, violets – the usual suspects. They are blooming right before the forest canopy leafs out. Their time to shine lasts only a few weeks.

Halfway up the hill, I spot patches of green on the forest floor – the shoots of wildflowers that have recently pushed up through the bleached, brown forest duff.  A little later, I come upon leaves unfolding from a bush next to the trail. Fresh spring verdure. No matter how much I anticipate this, it always comes as something of a surprise.

Spring beauty, hepatica and bloodroot are gone already. The spring season is so ephemeral, so easy to miss. Soon the temps will reach into the 70s and I’ll let out a dreamy vernal sigh. Then the bugs will come out. Then the verdure before me will darken to summer green. And I’ll only half notice the transformation as I go about my busy-ness. With that in mind, I take a long, hard look at the tender leaves before me right now and thank god I’m here to witness their magnificent unfolding.



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