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Posts Tagged ‘forest’

After numerous days of torrential rains and relentless wind gusts, it’s refreshing to get a glimpse of blue in the sky.  Could winter’s fury finally be giving way to a calm resignation that its days are numbered?

Strong winds caused many tired and weakened trees to snap.  There seem to be even more diagonal lines in the forest. 

Rain water has gathered in the recesses beneath uprooted trees and in lower lying areas in the woods.  Known as vernal pools, these temporary wet areas not only provide animals with access to fresh drinking water, but also contribute to the biodiversity of the forest.  Amphibians thrive around these pools as do numerous varieties of mosses and grasses.  They will slowly dry up, but be filled again during subsequent rainstorms.

The rain melted all the snow, which is not at all good for snowshoe hares still wearing their winter white coats.  By contrasting more with the landscape, they become easier prey for foxes, coyotes and bobcats.  Hares will begin acquiring their brown coats later this month.  Until then, they’ll just have to keep a low profile and run a little bit faster if they want to survive until spring.

After every storm, the sun will smile;  for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.
~ William Alger

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A fresh covering of white clothes the woods in perfection.  Snow drifts in the forest have created hiding places for snowshoe hares.  Low balsam fir branches  even provide nutritious snacks to be enjoyed while they’re snuggling.  Snow is an excellent insulator, as air is trapped between the snowflakes.

Higher up, even the rough contours of dead branches are decorated with filigree.  The drifts on branches make it difficult to spot the well camouflaged black-capped chickadees. 

The layers of snow are so thick on some branches that it’s a wonder they don’t break under the weight.

Even the delicate lichens don’t escape an icing of snow.  These are home to tiny arthropods, eaten year-round by the chickadees.

The old man’s beard lichens look especially ethereal.  It’s all beautiful.

I’ve always regarded nature as the clothing of God.
~ Alan Hovhaness

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Snow covers the landscape, coating everything with blue in the early morning light.  Blue can be beautiful, but it also can also make a frigid day seem even cooler.  

With the warm, rich colours of fall a distant memory and spring still many long weeks away, it’s at this time of year that many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Less sunlight and exercise cause many to feel the winter blues.  Tiredness and lethargy make some wish they would have gone into hibernation back in the fall.  Others get downright depressed.  Children become restless too and it becomes more difficult for both young and old to focus on the task at hand. 

For people of all ages, perhaps the simplest solution to the winter blues is to go outdoors in the open air and get some exercise.  Whether you go for a short walk to the end of the driveway or a stroll around the neighborhood, breathing in the fresh air and feeling outdoor light on your face is a step in the right direction. If there are trees nearby, you’ll also benefit from the extra oxygen they expell.

If you really want to lighten your spirits, and especially those of children, you could try a winter picnic.  You don’t need to pack much.  A couple of sandwiches, cookies and something warm to drink in a thermos will do.  Bring along some seeds for any chickadees you might see flittering in the trees.

You need not stay out in the cold for long.  Being out in the natural light surrounded by trees is sure to put you in a different frame of mind.  The warmth of the indoors will seem even more enjoyable afterwards.

Now I see the secret to making the best person:  it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
~ Walt Whitman

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There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.
~ William Sharp

With each snowfall, the forest acquires a new wardrobe.  Each branch of tree and blade of grass is covered with a new garment of white.  These evergreen branches seem to have fingers that are now gloved in snow. 

The air is cool and the snow is sparkling clean. Who would have thought that January’s white clad woods could be as refreshing to the spirit as June’s green ones? 

The positive effect isn’t just a visual one.  Snowfalls actually help clear the air of pollution.  This is especially helpful for people suffering from airborne allergens. 

Fresh fallen snow also traps sound waves between its snowflakes.  Even a light layer of snow on the landscape will absorb some of the ambient noise.  It’s no wonder that a newly snow-dressed forest seems so peaceful and quiet.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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Yesterday afternoon, two Bobcats came to prowl in my backyard.  It was the grey shadow cast by the first cat that caught my eye.  

Though my sons saw a Bobcat earlier this summer near the Salt Marsh Trail, I’d never seen one before.   Like all wildcats, they do tend to be elusive creatures.

Just on the edge of the woods near the house, their large form with bobbed tail and ear tufts made them easy to identify not just by me, but also by my son and my friend Sybil who was visiting at the time.  

Although I wasn’t quick enough to capture an image of the cats, I did manage to get some photos of their tracks.

Bobcats are supposed to be nocturnal but are known to hunt during the day in the winter.  They are likely here to prey on the Snowshoe Hares that live in my yard among the Balsam Firs.  I wonder if they’ll be back…

The drawing of the Bobcat, at top, was completed January 24th.  Various stages of the drawing can be viewed at http://drawingconclusions.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/bobcat/  

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The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit watch the roots.
~ William Blake

Challenged by Lake Superior Spirit to find six new and interesting views of things you have noticed or photographed before, I decided to get to the root of the matter.  Under the root to be more exact.  Since I’m so accustomed to photographing the part of trees that grows above ground, or looking at upturned trees from the outside, I thought I’d crouch under a very large Balsam Fir root and see what a small mammal might see if it was hiding there.

The first thing I noticed was how dark and quiet it was under the root.    

Balsam Firs tend to be shallow rooted and so are easily blown over during high winds. 

After falling to the ground, the roots of large trees remain intact, with some strands dangling to the ground.  Many provide hut-like enclosures that offer shelter for small animals.

Often, new trees start growing in the dirt left clinging to the upturned roots.  Over time, these roots eventually form mounds in the forest which help to speed up the rate of new growth.

Water often gathers under overturned roots.  Though presently frozen, these vernal pools provide places for amphibians to lay eggs or small mammals and birds to get a drink of water during warmer months.  The variety of life found around the roots of these overturned trees contributes greatly to the biodiversity of the forest.

For more information and photos of overturned trees taken from a vantage point out from under the roots see Pits and Mounds.

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