How Do You Like Them Apples?
Approaching our meeting location for the day, the veil of fog I had been driving in for an hour seemed to be lifting with the rising sun that had began peaking through the clouds, just up over the treeline in the horizon. I was taken by the beauty of the first rays of light hitting the frosty landscape of rolling hills and tree lines. The fine layer of ice that had developed overnight, covering the autumn vegetation, was reflecting the rays of the rising sun in a way that makes you really feel grateful to be alive. Everything on the landscape was glistening sunlight.
We met up on the side of the dirt road and promptly decided we should tuck into the other side of the Cedars to escape the chill of the wind. This brought a first lesson in starting to think more like an animal, seeking natural forms of cover to conserve energy and help provide cover. The winds were strong and blowing from the North-West so we made a plan to head over to the eastern edge of the cliffs and along southward so our scent would be blowing away from our target destination as we approached.
a while, I realized the leaves were no longer damp, the frost had melted and the sun had begun to dry out the leaf litter of the forest floor. It would be a lot harder to travel as quietly now. Alexis reminded us to try to think like a deer. How we walk is important. When deer break a branch as they are walking, they freeze and check their surroundings before they take another step. Although we couldn’t be completely silent, we could change the rhythm of our footsteps to be more like the deer, careful, with intermittent pauses.
Following the trails, we found an old porcupine den, piles of fresh raccoon scat, signs from various woodpeckers, flying squirrel scat, and half-eaten apples stashed up in tree limbs. As we worked our way to the apple trees, we saw various animals had been feeding on the huge abundance of fruit. We compared measurements of the incisor marks on some apples, discussed what was possibly eating them and debated what was likely the creature(s) that had left the marks on the specimens in our hands.
As the day came to an end, we headed back North, slowly, along the Western edge of the field as the sun was beginning to make it’s was to the other horizon. Once again, I am filled with gratitude and appreciation for the natural world, and the abundance of gifts, lessons and experiences Nature has to offer.