It was a beautiful early fall day on Friday so I decided that my dog Mikey and I needed to explore the big woods to see how things were progressing towards autumn. I always take a bag to collect fall things – acorns and pretty leaves, bits of lichen and moss. Our property is a mix of gently rolling hills and streams with some acres of hardwood (red and white oaks) up on a hill. It is one of the highest places around and one of my favorite escapes.
I usually don’t head up to the woods in the deep summer – too buggy and too many weeds. So I was eager to see what had happened since I’d last been up to the big woods last spring. Of course, this called for long pants and long sleeves, and some bug spray. Dang, I hate chiggers and ticks! And biting flies!
It’s a little early for many of the leaves to have changed color here but there were the beginning signs. And, as expected, the creeks were really dried up after the past few weeks without rain. Normally everything is very lush, even in the deepest of summer.
Mikey loves to go into the woods and runs about 20 feet for my every step. Of course, one will never see any wildlife as he chases it all off. But I eagerly look for signs and wasn’t disappointed to see some pretty big deer prints in the mud near one of the creeks.
Over the past 30 years, we have done some selective timbering. The last time was a few years ago and a new path was cut to the big woods on the hill. The old path had grown over but I wasn’t prepared for just how much it had grown over since last spring. I almost got myself into more work than I anticipated as I had to practically hack my way through the overgrown weeds and briers. It was a relief to come around to the new path (and mowed) area. I sure don’t know how the pioneers did it except that real heavy woods don’t have much undergrowth.
Mikey and I had a good hike (about a mile and a half for me) and much more for him. But we were both exhausted by the time we returned to the house. An immediate shower was called for to help prevent any chiggers or ticks from digging in. So far so good. Lots of good material for future paintings and a pleasant way to spend a fall morning.