Fantasyland just down the road

Red-spotted Purple ButterflyThe woods are lovely, dark and deep.  That line has rolled around in my ear for days, though my calendar is nearing summer and Robert Frost wrote “Snowy Evening” about a woods filling with snow.

the floor is carpeted with last year’s leaves and this year’s ferns

Butterflies, small ones, like miniature Emperor Moths only drab-hued, flitter around clover blossoms. Higher in the trees, a flicker of yellow catches my eye, and is gone. I would like to believe it was a Monarch, because they are becoming scarce, but I didn’t see it well enough.

Closer in, and on or near the ground, several Red Spotted purple butterflies, so called because they are purple, mostly, with red spots among white accent marks, search the duff for goodies. They seem afraid of heights; I rarely see them higher than a few feet. Mostly, they seem to favor the edges of dirt roads and, at the lake, open pebbly beach areas with tall-grass surrounds.Read more

A new walking stick

A comfortable walking stick can make the trail a little easier.Peavine bought himself a new walking stick. A dandy specimen it is, too – a really nice five-section telescoping stick with a compass on top. Each section is accented with, in his case, a bright orange ring.

He bought it, he said, because it came in orange. It also is available in black, blue, green, purple, red, gold and titanium, but as long as we’ve been hanging around together, I’ve never known Peavine to go for those flashy colors. Besides, orange is a good color in the woods because deer can’t see it. Read more

State and national parks and forests: a great value for taxpayers’ dollars

Michaux State Forest encompasses more than 87,000 acres of woodland, including a reservoir, several streams and a section of the Appalachian Trail. The Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website still claims about 85,000 acres, but I think that does not include 2,500 acres purchased from Glatfelter’s paper company circa 2008 and donated toRead more

“Seen any deer?”

I let him eat, and he let me shoot.A few years ago, a friend and I took a week in Colorado, driving through the back roads of the Rockies, generally following one of our favorite country music artists – and premiere writer of environmental songs – on what we termed “The Ultimate San Juan Oddysey.” The trip took us above the tree line, to long defunct silver mines, historic avalanche sites, Silverton (via the Durango and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad), and Black Bear Road, (“You don’t have to be crazy to drive this here road, but it helps.”).Read more

Storm troopers on gossamer wings

They are reportedly as aggressive as they appear.Something caught my eye, something that didn’t quite belong among the long green needles. I don’t know why I looked up for it, except that I habitually wander around with my eyes pretty wide open, the better to see stumps and other things I might run into while walking through the woods or paddling close along the shore.

Then I found it, a volleyball-size wasp nest hanging from a Pitch Pine, about 10-12 feet up from the ground. And about six feet from the trail, where joggers, bicyclists and other woods wanderers regularly pass by, probably without noticing the armory above their heads.Read more

What bird is this?

Walks along the lake shore, doesn't get his feet wet.Sometimes when you’re wandering or paddling around, you find something even the pros can’t identify. So here’s asking my loyal readers:

“What bird is this. It can be found at the central Pennsylvania canoeing lake about 15 miles from my home, walking along the shore, grabbing food from between rocks and logs, twigs and other such flotsam. I’ve never seen one actually get its feet wet.Read more

A walk in the woods

Rain had fallen in the overnight, and the piece of low-lying forest through which I wandered was mostly wetland, at the edge of a cattail-filled meadow. Beneath my hiking shoes the path was cushioned – not soggy, but like a carpet with a nice sponge under it. Ahead of me – he’s always ahead ofRead more

Leaves a-Fall-ing

A lone oak leaf at the very end of the branch

There was ice in the bird bath this morning. a blanket of frost coated the lawn, and the thermometer in back of the house showed about 28 degrees. A lone oak leaf clung to the farthest end of the skinniest branch on the tree in our front yard.

I guess it’s time to stock up on ice melt and windshield de-icer, and maybe buy that snow thrower we’ve been thinking about. Or we could wait.Read more