A November Walk
Leaving the house for a walk, I passed the barn, granary, and sheds on either side of the driveway, the far shed ahead of me. Behind a fence to my left, young heifers and steers graze. On my right is a greenhouse. I followed along the fence to the corner, turned left and kept walking, the fence still running to my left. At the corner, another fence ran perpendicular. Cows grazed here, around a now dry pond. I followed the fence to its corner; turning left again I walked along the fence up the hill to the gate. At the top of the hill, to my left, is a lane; along the lane are nine paddocks for the cows. I walked in the lane headed north; I was going all the way to the last paddock.
Along the way, I took note of the dead thistles, frost on clover, dandelions still in bloom, two flowering yarrow plants, the oaks still holding on to their leaves. I looked across the hill and could see the maples shining like fire by the driveway. The grass was still green. There had been a glorious, gold sunrise this morning but clouds had rolled in since, making for a gray walk. My fingers were so cold, my nose running.
At the back of the last paddock were a couple oaks, grizzled, gnarled and full of character. On the other side of the fence, to the north, is a pasture we haven’t used for two years. At the back of the paddock beyond the fence is a wooded area for wildlife. Bending at the waist, I carefully stepped through the middle two wires of the four strand barb wire fence into the rested pasture. A bird was in the oak tree near me, I couldn’t discern its species. The grass was tall, above my waist. A few steps further and I came across a deer trail coming out of the woods and going into the pasture about ten feet. Fresh droppings were scattered along it. I chose to take this path into the woods.
I ducked under another wire; this part of the fence was in need of repair. I followed the trail along the top of the hill just before the trees got really thick, heading south. Gray and yellow lichen clustered on tree trunks. There was a thick leaf litter covering the ground. A few leaves still clung to the trees, mostly oaks. Tall grass grew in open areas. Grass matted where deer slept. I thought I heard a woodpecker. I had to bend low under some branches. Blue cones, which look more like berries, on red cedars add a dash of color to the woods. A blue jay calling above flew over to the neighboring tree, perhaps alerting the other members of the woods to my presence. I go just a little further, mindful of the morning waning. I turn around. In a tall, eastern red cedar, four black capped chickadees bustle about. All of them gone by the time I lift my camera. I walk back north. The trail diverges, one staying on the top (which I came in on) the other going down the hill a little among taller trees such as red and burr oaks, aspen, cottonwood, white pine, box alder, buckthorn, and elm. I went on the latter path. I cringed at my loud footfalls, leaves and twigs crunching underneath, echoing across the woods and, most likely, scaring the wildlife. I follow it many steps before going uphill again.
I came out a little further north than where I ducked under the fence and found another trail. I walked back, noting a few more deer beds in the rested pasture. I was back to the east-west fence separating the paddock and the other pasture, through the wires where I had gone before. I walked at a faster pace back to the front of the paddock, along the lane passing the other six, down around the fence with the dried up pond below, cows watching me.
I briefly marvel at the thin ice stretched across the mud puddles, not shiny like glass, but rather dull like plastic. And back to the yard and work.
– November 8, 2013 journal entry