Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hanna Flats Addendum

I do have a few thoughts and additional information to share about my brief time in the Hanna Flats Cedar Grove. I do love getting back into the woods, but then there comes a point when I am struck by the dead quiet, sometimes not even broken by a bird call or the chattering of a squirrel. I'm suddenly aware of my vulnerability, that the animals that call this home rule here and may have the upper hand. I was entering this grove late in the afternoon, about the time many woodland creatures are leaving wherever they spend the heat of the day and move towards water. As I made my way deeper into the towering trees spaced wide with little undergrowth between them, I remembered bears roam this area and I should be making noise so if one were close it would not be taken by surprise but move away. I usually whistle to announce my presence, so I let one off while looking around. It was like being in a cathedral, my usually weak whistle carrying clear and loud under the canopy of high-up branches. I hustled along.

The point where the trail loops back toward where it begins is the thickest with cedar trees, both young and old. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the scent of cedar at a strength I only remember experiencing at Christmas when dad would bring fresh cut boughs into the basement family room to arranged on either side of an exposed overhead beam and along the fireplace mantel. Always a surprise how scent can instantly trigger a place, a memory.

Cedar boughs with their needles are flat as opposed to other pines with needles that hang down in clumps like tassels or brush bristles. This has always fascinated me. The individual needles are also quite small, so the overall appearance is delicate, light, airy, almost lacy. For the woodsman, a stack of boughs can serve as a mattress under bedding or arranged to provide shelter overhead. I might not know this if not for my dad's tales of camping rough while out hunting.

Something else I learned from Dad - see that long wispy stuff hanging from the tree? That's a kind of moss, he informed me, that the deer and elk survive on throughout the winter when there's not much else to feed on. Packed with nutrition, he told me, while I looked high in the branches and wondered how they reached it. It does become dry and brown and blows off the trees, but then there's also the deep snow that, if it can be walked on without punching through, brings the hungry deer closer. 

Technically, I think it is a form of lichen, but this is softer, the strands finer, like tufts of hair, at least until it dries up. These strands can be 12 to 18 inches in length. Can't remember what my dad called it, except for the moss part.

And try as I might, I simply can't stop photographing tree trunks. As I zoomed in on one of the last ones, I realized I could take pictures of their textures all day!


1 comment:

Michele Matucheski said...

I have to tell you -- I grew up wandering around in my dad's woods. Now they have a house and he can step out the back door anytime he wants. He's in that woods several times a day. He would die without it -- quite literally. Sounds like you went out at siesta time. And the mention of being in a cathedral -- There's a route home to my parent's house through the Menomonee Indian Reservation. THey are world-reknown for sustainable logging and timber practices. The woods comes up right next to the road, the trees arch over the road -- I always try to go home in the fall at the height of the changing colors to see that great color show. In June I went through right after a pretty nasty storm. There was a big line of cars behind a logging truck that was clearing the fallen trees off the road -- instead of snow plows, they had tree plows. Quite a system!
I think the cedar used as bedding also kept some critters and insects away, too. Not only does it smell good, it served a few other purposes, too.
And I DO appreciate the bark pictures. ;-)