Enter this sacred forest quietly.

Enter this sacred forest quietly.

OK, we’ve known each other long enough.  Especially those of you who have been reading and looking at photos of this outdoor commitment  for 77 days now. We’ve developed a relationship of trust, haven’t we?  We’re ready to bring our relationship to a new level.

I am going to introduce you to an old friend, a tract of sacred forest known as “Marantha”.  (Please do not make fun of people who talk to fish and name forests, please.  That’s part of our trusting relationship…)  We must be very gentle with this hemlock and cedar forest, we must, for she has lately been…how do I phrase it kindly?…ravished. 

How many years ago now did the skidders and loggers and trucks enter beneath the deep green branches and begin to saw away her fine trees?  How many years ago did they raze her for lumber and/or pulp to give us our books, our tables, our chairs, our computer paper, our newspapers, our cardboard, our walls, our houses? 

I cried for a long time when they harvested all those wonderful trees, beauties under which I used to walk and think and pray and dream.  They left behind barely-navigable brush and tops, which for years prevented easy hiking.  I’m afraid we never regained our earlier intimacy after the logging.  Only now has the underbrush rotted into the earth enough to allow easier wandering.

Shattered remains of tree points to the heavens

Shattered remains of tree points to the heavens

This morning I found myself walking into Marantha without even snow pants or snowshoes.  Shocking, yes?  Enough melting has occurred to condense the snow to several wet inches in forested areas.  Of course, there’s traps and holes.  So be prepared to get wet if you venture in without being properly dressed!

I remembered a swampy creek-like area with a rotting tree which contains a large hole carved near the base.  Years ago, porcupines wintered in this hole.  I cheerfully ventured nearby to photograph the hole for your inspection, when…  

Are you ready for this photo?  Look closely!

The rear end of a frightened porcupine hiding from a frightening human

The rear end of a frightened porcupine hiding from a frightening human

I snapped two photos quickly, not wanting to scare the little fellow more than necessary.  Odd, my brother-in-law just questioned last night:  did we see many porcupines?  I can’t wait to show him this photo when they arrive home after ice fishing!

There are so many interesting things to look at in the woods.  Odd tree angles, stumps, piles of nibbled pine cones, woodpeckers, sunlight filtering through branches, exquisite green moss contrasted with white snow. 

Some of my favorite wood-creatures are toppled-over tree stumps.  Such as the one below:

Underworld roots beneath fallen tree

Underworld roots beneath fallen tree

I could post about six more photos of Marantha, but will leave you with only one more.  Just as I prepared to leave the woods and discover the solid dry road once more, a red squirrel chattered overhead.  What a scolding!  It glared, made that fierce whirring sound designed to scare away any unsuspecting invaders, and dove down the tree to eat me for lunch.  Not really!  But witness the Evil Squirrel Eye:

Get on out of here, you human!

Get on out of here, you human!

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