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Posts Tagged ‘Sumacs’

The trail I walked in the Countryside Round, marked in red.

A couple of hours were available to me yesterday morning, so I was up with the sun and on a trail just as the sun crested the hills to the east. Four or five miles (I haven’t put a string to it) were walked up and down hills, through woods and fields, and along waterways. Along with the excersize, I wanted to see how the woods had fared through the Heat Moon, as the Thunder Moon starts tomorrow.

A young maple showing the signs of enduring a rough year.

And it does look like the Heat Moon, in cohorts with all of the rain the woods have received this year, has taken a bit of a toll. The top of the forest canopy still looks pretty healthy, as does the forest floor, which is still flush with green. But the mid-story level of the woods is showing signs of fatigue. Rust is appearing on the leaves of the smaller trees, some of the staghorn sumac leaves are turning red, and the walnut tree leaves are fading to a pale yellow and falling in quantity when a stronger gust of wind finds them. Of course, being a human, I can witness all this “life is fading in the woods” and try to put a dramatic tone to it. But I’m sure the woods, after all these millenia, is quite expecting this fading, and really couldn’t do without it.

Sure has me thinking of fall and the hunting seasons! Squirrel season starts in less than a month, and an early duck season starts a few weeks after that…That will be some life and death drama – literally.

What used to be a road provided part of the trail.

But back to the walking! And a question!

Have you a piece of the land that you consider “adopted” by you? By this I mean do you have an area that you know like the back of your hand, and know intimately? Where the stands of birches and cottonwoods are, where each oak or hickory tree is located, what kinds of wild fruit trees and berry bushes provide for the critters and possibly yourself, where the sources of water run, and where the major animal trails lead from and to and why, what woodland wildflowers show themselves in the early springtime?

Some of the road is a bit more overgrown, and part of the trail is not road at all, so it wasn't all this easy!

This area has all the makings of an “El Dorado” for this particular walker. I love the trails and the land surrounding and between them. Provisions of the best sort could be had here. From game meat (deer, squirrel, turkey, rabbit, raccoon, and groundhog sign were all present this day) to fruit and vegetable foodstuffs (wild plums, blackberries, sumac shoots, mast trees, and I remember a wild apple tree that a friend and I found morel mushrooms under two years ago, right off this trail!). Very tempting, yes….And a lake to provide fish is not far away.

That is really all I can write to you for now, as two pieces of less than good news are affecting lives of this family for the next few days, weeks and months, and my mind is sure to be a little discombobulated for a bit. But – I’m sure it will all make me take to the trails more than usual to help work it all out, so at least that is something.

Until I can write again, peace and take care!

Your friend,

Casey

P.S. Here are a couple more photos taken during my walk. I hope you enjoy them!

One of the last flowering weeds before fall - goldenrod.

The greens are not so green anymore.

Sumac red - bring it on!

Ripened wild plums. And something has been enjoying them. See that matted-down grass below them?

A stand of cottonwoods and birches. These are my favorite trees, as their leaves seem to be waving Hello! to you in the slightest of breezes.

Small puffball mushrooms in the trail.

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Ol' Trapper

Sticklebacks! It’s been hot!! And very rainy, too. A person would think, if they had never been here in the winter, that the Countryside Round were a part of the tropics instead of northeast Iowa! And still I get the urge to wander around outside?

I could have stayed in the shade offered by the inside of my house, complete with air conditioning, and enjoyed the simple, delicious comfort that comes from kicking your feet up and watching a baseball game while taste-testing the day’s freshly baked zuchinni bread (and chocolate zuchinni bread!). But I feel deep down, that when conditions seem to be more than what you prefer, you should test yourself against them a bit, just to see where your limits seem to be set lately.

I love the blues and greens of a marsh.

And so, with Trapper’s company, I did. I am not a fan of temperatures above 90 degrees, but by the time I had finished supper and prepared us to go, the temperature had dropped to 88, and there was a steady breeze to offset the oppressive humidity. Off we went to visit the marsh where I shoot most of my ducks. I like to visit the marsh a couple of times each summer, just to get a feel what it’s like during the times I’m not normally using it.

June berries? More study needed on my part.

A sad reminder overwhelms me as I walk the trails here. The times seem farther between and fewer that I make trips specifically into the wilder edges to collect foodstuffs that are overlooked by most people. Everywhere I look, plants stand out that are known as edible. I’ll admit that I have not tried them all, but there is a list in my head that I run through every time I’m out, and many were on display during my short walk. But, alas, my time available is short, and I wish to spend this time with my mind trying to absorb all it can of the sights, sounds, and smells.

And there was a smell, let me tell you, on the trail through a piece of low-lying woods we walked through. Something smelled dead, and sure enough I found it’s source as I was dodging the puddles on the path. The woods must have been under water for quite some time. Earthworms, large and small, decomposing into the warm, wet earth lent their perfume to the still air under the trees. Some of you may know the odor of rotting worms from the days you used to spend fishing with them, and then forgetting and leaving them somewhere inconvenient. This was how the woods smelled. I hope it’s long gone before squirrel season gets here, as I harvest some from here every year.

This one has some meat on it. Hopefully it, or one like it, will be around yet this fall.

But there is a lot of life still happening! Trapper and I jumped several wood ducks and mallards from the cattails, and heard wood ducks squealing away on the creeks meandering through the timber. We also moved off some Canada geese from the trail. They didn’t seem too worried about us, but still kept a distance far enough away that the photos I took did not turn out well. The same applies for the ducks. It is hard to sneak up them when I’m letting Trapper play more than hunt. And the insects are doing EXTREMELY¬† well right now. Our ears and eyes were constantly swarmed around. Funny to think that they won’t be around this coming Long Night Moon (December) when I’m stalking the woods for a whitetail.

If this heat keeps up, I will have to make a trip to a cold, spring fed creek near me to wade and get cool, and perhaps spin for a few of the trout that swim in it. Well, I was planning on doing that soon anyhow, as my freezer is getting low on it’s supply of fish. Catfish, bass, and walleye fillets (bless the generosity of my brother) are thawing as I write this, so replenishment is on the order. Hopefully, I’ll have something of that to share with you soon.

Until then – Peace, Cheers!! and enjoy a few more photos I took during our walk.

Your friend –

Casey

A sign of autumn approaching? This maple is standing in water, which may have something to do with it's turning color sooner.

Young sumacs! Berries to make sumac-ade and trap dye.

The hickory nuts are swelling!

Wild grapes, still green.

I sent Trapper into the water to cool off, but he was trying to lap up scent! Atta boy!

P.S. – And after getting home and washing up, I was able to enjoy some of that chocolate zuchinni bread! Mmmmm.

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