Wednesday, March 24, 2010

While it snowed

The nature preserve, as viewed by the feverish land steward ready to return to field work.

The meadow vole dislikes multiflora rose thorns, too.

The snow in the parking lot was pristine. The shades were closed in the windows of the old brick house that hides behind a squarely trimmed and balding privet hedge. Piles of cut multiflora rose were made brittle in the winter sun, having months ago been separated from their roots. Their removal making way for swamp white oaks and mountain mint.

Vultures took flight reluctantly and soared on wobbly wings as I crossed the thawing field. I, too, explored the white tailed deer carcass, and added my prints to the weeds surrounding this well traveled path worn by scavengers and the curious.

While I had been tapping away on an unchanging keyboard winter-long, bound to a glowing screen by tasks and a low clearance vehicle, all had been at their own work.

This orderly stick pile will not be taken away by the municipal trucks on the third Thursday of each quarter.

The deep snows kept me out of the nature preserves, but allowed meadow voles to reach higher portions of rose canes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

American linden (Tilia americana)

"You'll choose a tree and hang out with it. That's one of your assignments."

Linden. Black birch. No, linden that's a good one. Dozens of thoughts crowded in. Where was the nearest linden, one mature enough to flower but with low buds to observe spring's work? Black birch, that's in the yard and filling in the little meadow - I use it for tea, I love the bark, I like chewing on the twigs, I like introducing this tree to others, I hate how it's culled in favor of timber trees. You know black birch, get to know the tree better.

Linden - I just found a few linden trees in the red maple swamp. I never knew they were there. Their bark looks much like red maple. I love the ruby red bird claw buds - I photographed them at Cushetunk Mountain until I felt I would not confuse them with any other bud (I still can't tell you how many scales the buds have).

Linden, however, came to mind first. Between fairness and needing a simple organizing principal to make firm choices (too much self doubt), I will spend the next month with linden.

"How was your class?" asks Jared.

"Good, good, good," I reply pulling mason jars of oil and vinegar from my bag. My hands still smell of onions and horseradish. Thoughts are blowing around like this winter's snowstorms. "Yeah, good. I learned a lot - about myself, too," remembering how one classmate chewed on the dry mountain mints leaves; another rubbed them into her hands which became soft; and myself, who inhaled the leaves' aroma deeply and continually.


About linden:

Linden's unusual flower stalks - Jared and I asked Hildy at Bowman's Hill, "What are these?" we asked her. We had looked in George Symonds' mysteriously (aggravatingly) arranged The Tree Identification Book. "Tilia flower stalks," she replied easily. "Ohhhh...." I said looking at the beautiful perfoliate leaf and stem. "May be I shouldn't have given it away so fast".

At our first woodland Treasure Hunt, one guest returned with what we called a "Barbie peach". I searched many books for what plant made Barbie peaches - may be it wasn't a fruit. Could it be an insect gall? Linden fruit...

Tilia is the name of an acquaintance's daughter. A lovely name.