Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dogwood Leaf and Downy Woodpecker Feathers

What a weather day! We woke around 5 a.m. to thunder and lightning - such a treat in January. Around breakfast came pouring rain that later in the morning slackened to drizzle and fog. After lunch the rain stopped, but left behind dark scudding clouds flying overhead, parting occasionally to reveal tiny patches of blue. By the time I put on my hiking shoes (2:00) and headed out the wind had picked up and the sun shone brightly.

Daisy, anxious to be off, dashed away down the front path followed by Atticus (our neighbor-dog), our old Calico cat named Cookie (who acted very nonchalant and only half interested in what was going on), and me. We wandered through piney woods until the wind rose high enough to break a branch and send it crashing down. Yikes! It's hard to know which trees have pine beetles and are apt to fall at any time, so we hurried on, passing by the big rocks at the sharp bend of Old Thompson Road, and a big flat stone covered in shockingly bright green moss. Close to the stone, under years of leaf litter, lies a rusty metal bumper of a car. For all I know the whole car is down there, having missed the curve many moons ago. I know it's possible, because not far from this spot, in the woods beside a sharp curve of Emma Cudd Road, lies the bent and rusted carcass of a '59 Chevy!

My little party stepped out onto the pipeline and headed in the direction of Lawson's Fork. Along the edge of the pipeline I noticed a dogwood leaf (above) that was stuck on a small branch of the tree. The leaf shimmied in the wind but even in the gusts, never seemed in danger of being lifted off the branch that so neatly fit through the tiny leaf-hole. I wondered as I drew - which came first? Was there a hole in the leaf that just happened to fall exactly in the right way to land on the small branch? or did the leaf fall onto the branch, which punched the hole, and held the leaf as it dried? I know, I know....this is certainly not one of life's biggest mysteries, but I wonder just the same.

Daisy chased Atticus around in the sun while I drew, Cookie the cat purred and rubbed against tree trunks in the small parcel of woods between two pipelines. Meooowwww! Once I finished we continued on, passing through an old homesite with moss-covered bricks and a rusty wire fence growing into an oak trunk, and on down, close to the river where there is a huge fallen tree covered in Stereum ostrea, or False Turkey Tails, and Stereum complicatum, Parchment Fungus. The tree proved to be a perfect stage for Cookie, who strode up and down, showing off her beauty.

Truly one of my favorite kind of days!

False Turkey Tail tree before Cookie became interested...

Cookie modeling on the False Turkey Tails.

Parchment Fungus
A fence has become part of the tree at the old homesite.


ToadMama said...

Do you know what I love about your posts? Your writing and descriptions of your strolls evoke the same feelings of peace and serenity I get when walking through the woods with my pets. I love that you notice AND wonder about stuff like how the leaf got caught on the branch. Sure there are bigger mysteries in life, but isn't it fun to contemplate things like that. What an awesome escape. Of course, I love all of your drawings, too. :-)

Folk Heart said...

I just love your take on life and you wonderful appreciation of the nature that surrounds Middlewood. Many thanks for taking me along by proxy.

Helen said...

Thank you both! Whatcha' bet the three of us would have a fine time hiking/observing together.

:-) Helen

Elva Paulson said...

What a lovely day! You captured it well. And I love your sketch of the lone leaf.

Helen said...

Thanks, Elva!

Betsy Grimes said...

Helen, dear, I think EVERY day is one of your favorite kind of days. Something I admire and love about you very much.