Saturday, February 13, 2010

the magic of a woods in winter

So Farm Boy surprises me with a quick trip to the farm. There really is no quick trip about it since it is 3 hrs each way but I have said, apparently several times, that I wish I could see the farm with snow and John Dear wanted to rev up his tractor and check out the roofs so off we went; me with my trusty camera and John Dear with his atv, his keys and his big ole' heart of gold. The drive was quick, we were eager to get there and the scenery along the way was beautiful. Pristine fields of solid white, mostly uninterrupted aside from the occasional drift or animal tracks.

I was not disappointed when we arrived at our little place. In fact, I was delighted to find that no one had attempted to track back to the woods for deer or turkey hunting and the land lay bare and quiet. Parking at the neighbors so as not to get stuck we weighed our options for arrival. A) would the truck make it in through two feet of compacted snow? (of course it would he said - it's a four wheel drive...but I don't want to have to dig us out, he added.) Option b was the atv - but it sort of had its own issues as in "i don't want to take the time to unload it." so Option C it was - time to put on the hiking boots and start walking. The snow was so hard we mostly stayed on top of it but every three or four footsteps we'd sink into a soft spot and have to pull our ankles out to continue - great cardio workout if I hadn't already had mine for the day. We walked the half mile up the driveway to the trailer and the garage. We had had company - bird tracks joined us on our walk and closer to the house a small animal had been playing leaving behind his footprints, perhaps a racoon. The woods welcomed us with its quiet majesty. Tall oaks and tiny evergreen scrubs alike stood tall to show us they had waited patiently for our return. A little further up the drive we came to the storage barn - all was in good shape except for the unmistakable odor of a skunk party a few nights back - faint but definately skunky. Even the icicles offered a welcome, spelling out the word Hi as they froze solid along the vines that clung to the barn. We continued down the lane, James' meadow on one side and the woods on the other, listening to the many sounds that the woods offers. Wild turkeys called in the background warning others that someone had dared to invade their space. We both noticed how clear and close the mountains seemed this time of year without anything to block their view. We came out into the opening where the circular drive will one day go and surveyed the back fields and noticed that a) the abandoned house had not yet caved in and b) the spring fed creek was alive and well and happily carving its path through the snow. This stream had not yet had water in it that we had seen so we hiked down to it to check out the spring. John wanted to hike up the hill to the house but I begged to proceed through the woods (partly from the cardio workout and partly because I knew there would be better pictures awaiting me in the woods.) So off we went again in the direction of the woods, past the deer tracks and down the path towards the "big" barn and the little sharecroppers cabin. John Dear commented on the many great places for sledding. I personally was dreaming of a fire pit. Some day he will be out sledding with the grandkids and I will stay in and tend the fire, I said. He smiled, "Of course you will" In the clearing of the tobaccy barn we noticed that a good third of the roof was no longer a part of the roof line. "Well that takes care of that," he said, making note that some of his spring work had been started for him. We walked down to spring-fed creek #2 - this one also noisily making its pathway through the woods. Back through the woods we traipsed, the snow being much softer under the trees making our progress a bit slower, giving us time to notice the lacy effect of soft leaves that had not fallen, the buds on other trees promising us that spring was coming and the sheer peacefulness that comes from a walk in the woods.
An hour and a half had flown by as we made observations of the farm in winter. Day was dying and light was quickly waning. We popped into the neighbors house to say hello (that's what you do in the country) and to warm ourselves by her cheerful fire. After a short visit of pleasantries, invitations to dinner, rainchecks and promises of being back soon, we loaded up in the truck that waited in her driveway and headed back home.