Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Wintry Sunday Walk and a Delightful Discovery

Around the corner from our house, on a quiet back street which ends at the local high school, is a marshy lake backed by acres of what I always assumed to be farmland.

I almost never go down this street - I see plenty of marshes while cycling - but on Sunday I decided to take my camera for a walk by this particular marsh, to see what I could see, and to try to fill the gap left by the end of the riding season. (Oh, how I'm missing my weekend bike rides.)

Remarkable in spring and summer mostly for mud, mosquitoes, and the brush which obscures the view (and for occasionally flooding the surrounding streets when too much rain falls), this marsh comes into its own in late autumn. An austere beauty hangs over the buff-coloured grass, and silvery waters reflect ghostly grey trees.

Deep leaves cushion the verge, with an occasional splash of fresh piney green to relieve the wintry browns.

The cattails are shedding their woolly seeds and reverting to their brown velvet selves.

Dried flowers line the marsh's edge. Here's what they look like from below...

...and above.

A mysterious seed pod, prickly and fascinating, hangs from a spindly branch.

Past the marsh, near the end of the street, I see a track leading into the fields. Normally such tracks are festooned with "No Trespassing" signs, but this one is temptingly free of warnings. So I decide to walk down it and see where it goes.

A little way down, and here's a sign - which says nothing at all. Whatever message it once bore has been effaced by time and moisture and moss. It stands amidst tangled vines that are tinted a rosy grey.

Ahead is a most promising picturesque building, abandoned and surrounded by trees...

...with an empty corn crib (or chicken house?) behind. It must have once been a farm outbuilding.

I like its back door and stone foundation.

The fallen log next to this building bears small lacy fungi...

which look like sea creatures when viewed from below.

The track goes on into open fields. I spy small orange signs dotted here and there, and realize to my delight that I'm on a snowmobile trail. Perhaps this is public land, or simply unused land made available to the public by a benevolent landowner. The track I'm on has clearly been mown to provide for walking (and snowmobiling when we get enough snow).

The fields stretch out ahead of me, crossed and re-crossed with trails waiting to be explored. Since the cycling season ended, I've been feeling starved for the freedom and solitude of open country - and here it is, just a short walk away. (Of course our village is surrounded by open country, but most of it is private land and therefore inaccessible.) Now I can look forward to a happy winter of walking these fields and following the trails - and taking pictures for posting here.

Stretching out ahead is a lovely treeline, with gnarled oaks backed by misty-looking trees.

Three giant hay bales dot the field to my left. This one reminds me of Shredded Wheat.

A snowmobiler's directional sign seems to point to a birdhouse.

And another sign stands at the edge of a dried-flowered field. I've stumbled across a prairie restoration project. This walk keeps getting better and better.

The prairie is simply covered with flower seed heads. I can't wait to come back in the summer and see what flowers produced them.

At the edge of the field, as I walk under some trees, I hear a quiet tap-tapping over my head. Sabbath or no, a downy woodpecker is working away at a tree branch. This is the best photo I could get - the little guy wouldn't sit still.

By now I had circled around and come up behind the high school, on the very edge of the village. Time to take one last dried-flower photo and head home for supper.

There are many trails here yet to explore, and a winter full of weekends in which to explore them. A good walk and a happy discovery.

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  1. Lovely photos, Sue. It all appears so quiet, so serene. The sign which seemingly points to the birdhouse is my favorite.

  2. Oh, it is so beautiful! What a marvelous "find". I can only imagine how glorious it must be in every season.

  3. That first photo could be a postcard or greeting card. I suppose it ices over soon?

    I agree with other readers; what a goldmine! Now I know I'll be seeing the best of winter every time I come here for the next couple of months, at least!

    The snowmobile sign pointing to the birdhouse really cracked me up!

  4. What a great find! I think the flower heads look very tasty. :) The Goatmother still likes to go back and look at the photo you took the other day with the car lights. :)

  5. What a wonderful discovery, almost on your doorstep too. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your countryside.

  6. What a wonderful walk. And how lovely to have discovered somewhere new so close to home. That wild flower meadow holds so much promise, but meanwhile you have the winter calm of a world that is glorious in its every-shade-of-brown :D

  7. Wow, there is so much here - what a wonderful discovery! Beautiful pics and descriptions - nice to know we'll all be able to enjoy more of it with you.


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