Archive for April, 2012

Apr 28 2012

Profile Image of Walt

100-year-old Tree

Filed under Blog Post

Despite the specks of white tumbling from an overcast sky, I went for a hike up Aldis Hill. I had the place all to myself, of course. No one else was foolish enough to come out on such a nasty day.

Shortly after entering the woods, I noticed a big, old maple near the trail – one I hadn’t seen before. Then I kept moving. I was more interested in early spring wildflowers and knew just where to find them.

Amid a pile of large rocks, I spotted the leaves of bloodroot. The petals had been blown clear by the strong April wind. Just beyond the rocks, wild ginger. Trilliums, violets and blue cohosh bloomed along the flat section of trail between the lookout and the summit. Near the summit, I visited a thick patch of Dutchman’s breeches surrounded by trout lilies, hepatica and spring beauty. I got down on my knees and snorted the fragrant spring beauty the last time I was here.  Good thing I did so. Today they were closed tight against the weather.

I looked around for more wildflowers while finishing my hike but nothing new cropped up. That’s when I started thinking about that big, old maple I had passed earlier. How long had it been there? Why was it still standing? More to the point: Why hadn’t I noticed it before?  I gave it a quick nod before leaving the woods.

A half hour later, I returned to Aldis Hill to take a picture of that tree. I stretched my arms around its trunk to measure its girth. I couldn’t reach halfway around the giant. Stepping back, I took a good, long look at it. The tree had to be a hundred years old at the very least. And still going strong. I shook my head, wondering what else I hadn’t seen in this small pocket of woods during my countless walks here. Sometimes, I swear, it feels like I’m sleepwalking – even when my eyes are wide open.


One response so far

Apr 14 2012

Profile Image of Walt

Ohio Verdure

Filed under Blog Post

Once a year I go back to Ohio to visit family. I like to make the trip in early April so that I can get a jump on spring. The trees and bushes leaf out a couple weeks earlier in Southern Ohio than they do in Northern Vermont so I get to experience this lovely transition twice.

While everyone else was still in bed, my nephew James and I headed for a patch of wild forest just outside Yellow Springs. That was the plan, anyhow. In actuality, the parking lot was full by the time we got there and people were all over the trails hugging the Little Miami River. It took some doing to find an out-of-the-way spot where few people go.

When James and I stumbled upon a pair of large, flat rocks overlooking the lush river valley, we stopped for a while. I told James that the spot looked like a good place to party. He just smiled.

Our eyes soaked in the greenery all around us while we sat and talked. No one else was around. We talked about work, school, family, relationships, and everything else that popped into our heads. I avoided sentences with the word “should” in them, figuring that a young man in college gets enough of that. We ended up talking generally about the choices people make in life and the consequences of those choices. That seemed a fitting subject on a warm, spring day with the sun shining overhead.

New beginnings. Every spring season is chock full of possibility. The first wildflowers push up, the birds sing loudly, and forest creatures scurry about. More importantly, fresh verdure brightens the landscape, making it easier to smile.

It was time for James and I to link up with the rest of the family so we quit the rocks. We finished our short hike amid a throng of people. James talked about car camping this summer so I urged him to drive out my way. He probably won’t make the trip. That’s okay. We’ll have Ohio verdure to enjoy together next year regardless.


One response so far

Apr 02 2012

Profile Image of Walt

Reservoir Reflections

Filed under Blog Post

It’s a cool, overcast day in early spring. Even though Indian Brook Reservoir is only a few miles from the hubbub of suburban Burlington, Matika and I have the place all to our selves. The ice pellets occasionally spitting from the sky have kept everyone away – that and fact that it’s early afternoon on a weekday.

I have the day off from work so I thought I’d run a few errands in town then come out here to decompress. My dog Matika is happy to be in the woods for any reason. We hike to the far side of the reservoir then bushwhack a couple hundred yards off trail to a favorite rocky point where I like to sit and think. It’s a good day to do so.

We pass an old beaver lodge right before reaching the point. Plenty of new cuttings nearby. I wonder how long the caretakers of this reservoir will allow the beavers to proliferate before taking action. The longer the better as far as I’m concerned.  I like beavers. They make good company in the woods. Matika jumps on top of the lodge and sniffs around a bit.  Hers is an entirely different perspective, of course.

On the point, I sit on a rock and gaze across still waters reflecting the trees surrounding it. I come to this exact spot every spring to reflect upon events of the past year and quietly celebrate the end of another Vermont winter. A crow caws once in the distance then falls silent. Silence and stillness. Suddenly all my concerns seem trivial in the cool, gray light – all concerns but one that is. I’m another year older than I was the last time I sat here. Time marches on relentlessly.

I get up and walk around a bit. I spot a dead crayfish belly-up in shallow water. The shoots of a few wildflowers have already broken through the forest duff. Birth and death are common themes in the wild. They are clearly apparent everywhere one looks. I am both awed and horrified by it. The world is in a constant state of flux and this all-important “I” of mine is but an aggregate of dust quickly gathered then blown away. Fecundity and flux. Nothing withstands it.

I finish my hike without further reflection. I have things to do. If I dwell much longer upon The Big Picture, I’ll get nothing else done today. Perhaps it’s best to simply assume that things will go on forever just the way they are. That way we can go about our business as if any of it really matters.


One response so far