November 9, 2010

A Walk in the Woods: Animal Traces

Leaves are no longer obscuring the rising trunks of trees, both living and dead, so looking up, I now am more aware of the many holes of different shapes and sizes drilled into them. I assume that these are the work of woodpeckers, who drill into trees for insects and grubs. The larger holes may be for nests. There are other trees with bark that appears deeply scratched and torn, which is probably the work of bears. Trees feed other creatures in many ways.

This pattern of small 1/4 inch holes, looking like a secret code or an accounting, was made by a yellow bellied sapsucker, a type of woodpecker. Yes, there actually is a bird by that name, which for me is the silliest animal name there is. Was there a cartoon character years ago that was a yellow bellied sapsucker? a friend of Woody's perhaps?

Birds and bears are not the only animals in the woods leaving their marks on trees. Of course Homo sapiens cuts them down and manages the woods, but there are other more subtle traces of their presence. The trees along stone walls were once saplings bordering pastures, and barbed wire was strung between them to keep in the herd. Decades later, the trees have grown around the wire, and it sometimes disappears deep into the tree, to reappear on the other side.

And lastly, the declaration of personhood and presence:


  1. Pattern making in the this exploration in photos.

  2. Not only artful, but spiritual as well.

  3. thank you, Julie, though I certainly don't set out to attempt that. My woods walks give me a great deal of pleasure, and often something deeper, a connection to beauty, and the world, outside myself.