The (Not So) Secret Woods of Early Spring

I love this time of year— early spring: the snow is gone but nothing much is leafing out yet, so you can see the bones of the landscape. Even without the anticipation of the spring birds arriving almost daily, early spring is an exciting time. We can walk more easily through the woods now that the snow is gone, and we can see far into the trees without giving ourselves away.

The not so secret Bones of the Woods, by Robin Harmer

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way into the woods for an early morning walk, when I noticed some movement about 200 metres ahead of me. I could clearly see a line of female turkeys scuttling across their usual path through the woods. And when I brought my binoculars up for a closer look? A young doe bringing up the rear! She froze, and we stood “binocular-to-eye” as I waited for her to move on. After a minute or so, she bounded on with a flash of her white tail. In winter, we might see such a sight, but the deep snow often inhibits the turkeys, and at that early hour, it is too dark to see far into the woods. Even now, the cover-up has begun as the ramps and trout lilies have begun to poke up. In summer — everything is hidden inside the mantle of wild raspberry, dogwood leaves, leaf covered trees, grape vine and yes, alas, those nasty invasives. Over on the summer meadow, the head of an occasional turkey will show above the grasses and wild flowers, or a deer will emerge from the forest briefly in the late evening dusk — tall enough to be seen clearly. But for the most part the secrets are well hidden from May until well into November, when the skeleton slowly but surely emerges once again to expose its secrets.

So — maybe those turkeys and that deer travel in convoy in the winter too, hidden by the shadows of dusk or the dark of night, or in summer masked by the green mantle of verdant underbrush. Who knows what happens when the woods are clothed in darkness or cloaked in green? But this is the time of year when we might just get a glimpse of something unexpected …

An old tree that once grew in the middle of a pasture field, by Robin Harmer

by Robin Harmer, Earth Day, 2020 April 22

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