Yesterday if you followed my tweets in the morning, you would know that I went on a little jaunt with a Forestry Expert through my property. There is this little thing called Green Belt taxes and it was time for us to re-certify. In order to do that we had to have a Forester come to the property and walk it to do an analysis of our amount of land vs. timber available for logging. I won the coin toss with my husband and went to go grab my hiking boots.
Our appointment was for 9am and around 9:15am Forester Tim called and said he needed better directions to my house…he was lost. Friends, I was about to go into the wild wilderness with this guy and he is lost on asphalt roads with clearly marked street signs? Are. You. Kidding. Me? I hid my hiking boots and challenged my husband to another coin toss. I lost and quickly got on to the Android market to download the compass app for my phone. Just in case.
Forester Tim finally showed up and the first thing I saw was a little old man with a walking cane and a handicapped plaque dangling from his rearview mirror.
Now I have nothing against the handicapped and believe that they can do anything they put their minds to, but when it comes to hiking in my woods down a ravine…well, I was hoping for more of the Grizzly Adams look than the little old man from the movie “Up” As he talked he informed me that he had been a Forester for almost 55 years (I started doing math in my head for his exact age) and that he would not only be doing the analysis but would be teaching me all about the forest at the same time.
See that metal pole about halfway down the picture on the right hand side? That’s his walking cane. Turns out that is one handy sucker to have walking down a ravine and I envied him for having one by the third time I tumbled down. (By the way…sorry for the quality of the pictures. I took them with my phone because I was afraid of dropping my camera) Let me just tell you this man was awesome! Not only could he identify every plant, tree, animal dropping (ewwww) and rock, but he could tell me history about them. I began to fall in love with him a little until…
…he got us firmly stuck in a bramble patch. This was necessary because he had to take a sample from a Yellow Poplar and apparently we just “had” to go through this way to get to the illusive tree that could be found on the top of the ravine on the other side. While inside the patch it felt strangely like the time that I was wrestling with the 3 girls and they all needed to have their fingernails cut. This patch is about 3 acres wide and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, you try having your arms scratched and hair ripped out for 3 acres. It is an ETERNITY.
When we finally made it from the patch and to the bottom of the ravine (Yes, we still had to walk all the way up the other side) we discovered a stream on the forest floor. I told him it was my love of nature, but I am pretty sure he knew I was too pooped to pop…I convinced him to stop and take a break by the water edge. We sat there and listened to the water run by (HEAVENLY SOUND) and he took the time to show me a gray fox den (empty…boohiss) a place where the deer had bedded for the night, a tree that was hollowed out that served as a hotel for raccoons, squirrels, birds, etc. and pointed out the coolest Sassafras tree I have ever seen. I am totally going back with some kind of bush hog to take out the brambles and putting a park bench right at this spot.
We finally journeyed up the other side and made it to the top of Mt. Crayon. If it weren’t for all the trees there would have been a heck of a view! I felt like a real Explorer and was bummed to realize that I had no flag to stake there. I may or may not have burst into a round of “This Land Is My Land This Land Is Your Land” While I was belting out a song, he had located the Yellow Poplar and took a sample to check its maturity and growth rate. 9 rings. This was the clincher for him and as he handed me the little toothpick like sample from the tree, he also showed me that the sap had not risen in the tree yet. This, my city friends, means that spring is not right around the corner, but another cold snap is on the way. BOOHISS!
After our mission was complete and we made our way back to my homestead, he became full of jokes and we laughed all the way back. We skipped the journey through the bramble patch this time and he surprised me by showing me that sometimes the best way through the woods is to find a neighbors adjoining property that has been cleared and to take a nice leisurely walk through a cattle pasture. As I resumed my tweeting because I had a signal again, he kindly did not point out the HUGE pile of cow poop and allowed me to see the danger of walk/tweeting/cowpoop/notlooking scenario. Thanks Forester Tim. I shall now just burn my hiking boots.
I am so glad I won that coin toss with my husband and see many years of spending time in the woods. I guess it takes about 55 years to gain that type of knowledge about the nature that is contained in there, but only about 2 hours to gain a love for it.