December 2, 2011

A Walk in the Woods: In the Distance and Close at Hand

There are some newly expansive views on my woods walk: my neighbor has done some logging. In an area that was once covered with young trees, obscuring the surrounding hills, now I can see them ringing my town, and peer far off to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

It's made me think of the changes this landscape has gone through, from heavily wooded to almost cleared at the beginning of the 20th century. I have read that Vermont, in the late 19th century, was only thirty percent wooded to seventy percent cleared and now it's the opposite; much of that clearing was done slowly, acre by acre, with hand labor along with oxen or horses. Now, that hard fought cleared land is mostly back to woods, and stone walls that once fenced in pastures and fields wind between trees. I enjoy the feeling of my body moving from enclosed space to an expansive one, and back again.

There is much to see in the wide open world, but what I love about my walks in the woods are the small things that I have to keep my eyes alert to see. A few days ago I passed this tree stump, less than two feet high, that jumped out at me as a magical sprite, horned, long-nosed, ready to jump about at the touch of a magic wand.

Looking even closer, I found a small broken branch, 5/8 of an inch at its narrow point, that held some beautiful red fungus, a red jelly, that because it is in its winter state of dryness confused me into thinking it was a lichen. When I saw it on the ground I was only aware of a mass of deep red; it wasn't until I saw it through the macro lens that I noticed its complex folds, like masses of brain tissue. The world has small treasures along with its grand dramas.


  1. Thank you for the walk through Vermont's gentle land. I've never seen a red jelly fungi before...a marvel!

  2. Merci, Thanks it's beautiful. (alain g)

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    Holly, the fungus usually looks wet and shiny, like jelly, but it's dried up now. Yellow jellys are more usual.
    Isn't that stump wonderful, Lisa? it was a surprise to see it.
    Alain, I'm lucky to be living in this beauty.

  4. Big fan of that stump shot. Have you read "Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings?"

  5. thanks, Julie. No, I don't know that book. I looked it up and it seems interesting, but not quite my sensibility.

  6. Oh Altoon! The fungus is gorgeous and so similar to your fiber work with variations of red like folds in the cloth. You have such a keen eye for detail. My eyes let me see most everything in a blur.

  7. The stump reminds me of The Green Man of English history.

  8. Thanks Maggie, I keep my eye close to the ground.
    Ms. Wis., thanks for that reference; it surely is like that magical figure.