A Final Walk in the Woods

I think this will be my last post written in New England. We are supposed to fly home later today. However, Northwest Airlines is having a “pilot slowdown.” This resulted in hundreds of random flight cancellations over the weekend as pilots refused to fly. We’ll see. If we get stuck here, it’s no problem. Now I’ve packed an overnight bag in case we get stuck at our connection in Minneapolis. Expect the best and prepare for the worst, right?

Megan took this picture while Mum and I were picking raspberries at Uncle Russel’s house. The kids really didn’t want to, but Mum needed the berries to make a jelly roll for the last dinner party of our trip. So I handed Ian the Canon (video) and Megan the Nikon (photo) to keep them busy. Oh my, I didn’t realize how the elementary passion for bathroom humor would translate into film. I’ve censored their collection…

After two pints of berries, we drove to a farm to pick up corn on the cob and tomatoes. Ian got a little upset when the case labelled “Fresh Apple Cider” contained nothing but a curtain inside the door. He marched right up to the sales clerk (who looked 14) and demanded an explanation. “Not until Fall,” she explained with a little eye-rolling. I bought a canvas shopping bag with the farm’s name on (our only souvenir this time) and a block of “farmhouse cheddar” made at another nearby farm without a shop.

Kurt and I had walked his parents’ lower property twice this trip. We mentioned to his dad that our usual path along the logging road had grown over in several places. So yesterday he fired up his “bush hog” and cleared the front half of the path, shredding the thorny bushes that snagged us on our walks. Dad suggested that we take a walk to view the rest of the trail. I reclothed myself and the kids into long pants, rubber boots, hats, and insect repellant (ticks recently invaded from the south and there are always mosquitos). The kids had never been on this walk. It ended up being perfect.

We saw seven salamanders along the way – I’ve never seen them there before. If there are any herpetologists out there, could you explain why they would be hanging out on the rocks? There’s no hot sun reaching the forest floor, so I wouldn’t think it would be for heating their bodies. They weren’t in a hurry to get away, either. I got my camera lens 2 cm from some of them.

Megan spotted eight different fungi and three different lichens. I think I got her hooked on their unusual beauty. I’m sure several of my photographic subjects will be used as “artist reference” for future sketches and sculptures. She also liked the twisty tree, though Ian said “Yeah, yeah. Can we go home now?” Guess I’ll have to botanize him later.

Dad also showed us a trail Kurt had looked for but not found. There was a branch off the main logging road that they used to cut firewood on. Dad showed us a softening stack of wood wedges piled at the foot of a maple. Apparently his dad had visited the day he chopped it, and it was his last visit before he died. Megan and I lingered, thinking about it. Ian, again, wasn’t impressed. Now if Dad had stacked the wood on the day SEGA invented Sonic the Hedgehog

We had a final dinner party – two of Kurt’s friends from high school, now married, and their 10 year old son. “N” played Nintendo with the kids for awhile, but much preferred tramping around the grounds analyzing Dad’s mower, tractor, and snow blower. They had to leave early because “N” had a 1/2 mile swim ahead of him to qualify for junior lifesaving next year. They sure grow ’em different here!

So, this is it. I’ll post in a couple days with some closing comments and a link to my Flickr gallery for anyone that wants to see more. I love electronic sharing of vacation pictures. I can offer ALL the pix I think are exciting. But when you’ve seen enough, you can just turn it off instead of sitting on my couch trapped between politeness and bored slumber.


Quote of the Day

Ian – crouched looking at a salamander looking at him:
“I wonder who will win the staring contest?”

Megan – stepping on the springy mat of sphagnum moss & listening to my explanation of quaking bogs:
“I want to go and jump off the edge!”


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