This is the time of year when the landscape looks quite battered, and it’s hard to see anything new or beautiful of note. It is due to the eye of the beholder, as well—your eye gets tired of the same palette and things seem to all wash together. Frustrated by this, I decided the other day to look even closer, shaking myself out of the habit we have of going numb. I started picking up things that caught my eye, and, once I started, I couldn’t stop. My eyes always land on the small spot of reddish-pink that you see in opened up acorns, getting ready to germinate. There’s the green of the beautiful and hardy Christmas fern, a Queen Anne’s lace flower looking like a silvery firework, pine needles, an old dryad’s saddle. A quiet landscape suddenly burst into view.
I’ve continued this pattern, the other day appreciating a slip of wintergreen with a berry still attached, some very crenellated lichen, unidentified mushrooms, and lastly, beech nuts. I’ve been wondering why I never see beech nuts, so on the last walk I attended I asked our knowledgeable guide where they were? I felt a little silly, because he easily found one within minutes of my question. The answer was to dig a bit in the leaf litter (under a beech tree, of course). Beech nuts are a tad more elusive and delicate than acorns, for example, which make their presence very known on walking paths. It sounds very obvious, but once I started looking for them, there they were!
Mountain Lion story is a hoax. I feel a little better, but some people are not convinced by the DEC’s statement.
If you want to be in the company of knowledgeable and friendly people, a great local group to join is the John Burroughs Natural History Society, which has been around since 1950. They host varied and informative walks and birding field trips. This weekend on the 8th you can catch Early Migrants on the Rondout with Mark DeDea, local naturalist superstar. You should also check out their coffee club, a great way to buy organic, fair trade, bird-friendly coffee. Even if you can’t join this club for locals, you can still order directly from Birds and Beans.