Exploration and Discovery

Almost a year and a half on the property, and just about exactly a year since I hollered ‘do overs!’ on the original Mitigation Plan, and I am still finding the new about my patch

A peaceful composition at wetland's edge: water, nurse log, salal, cedar, and snow.

of woods, wetland, and clearing.  Whether the thrill of believed-to-be-extinct wildlife, the serenity of a snow dusted pool of wetland, or a mundane-yet-vivid fungus, there is hardly a day that I don’t find something I have never seen or noticed before.

This weekend, I stole a few hours to continue post-storm cleanup around the clearing, marveling at my forest’s ability to manufacture windfall branches.  From the amounts on the ground it is a mystery that there are any left on the trees.  The Pacific Northwest is enjoying what I call ‘False Spring,’ a regular February phenomenon of unseasonably beautiful weather.  Sometimes just a day or two, right now it has lasted a week and is forecast for several more days.  It is caused, I think, by an unusually stable mass of high pressure and may be influenced by the keen and wail of thousands of Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers; it will likely come to an end when some benighted soul says, ‘Wow, we’ve had sunshine for a few days in February. I think I’ll wash my car!’

The wetland margin has suffered this winter from wind, snow, and ice, and there are a number of broken trees, canes of salmonberry forced down under their weight, and years, perhaps decades of accumulated windfall branches and debris.  As I cleared away forest litter I exposed a salal covered log and just behind it a lovely stump wreathed in salal as well.  As I lifted away two newly fallen trees and a tangle of ancient sodden branches, the stump revealed itself, like a sculpted wooden vase filled with greenery: an ikebana of forest and bog, framed by the wetland view, now in the spotlight of silvery midwinter sun.

Where forest, clearing, and wetland meet

Sometimes I will come across a boulder poking out of the constant ebb and eddy of forest duff, one that I can lift and will nicely dress and texture the clearing; other times I press through woodland scrub to enter an arched cathedral of vine maple and happen upon a ‘mother field’ of moss I had not previously encountered.  These are the times I feel like Henry Morton Stanley, or even better: my own self as a boy, Tarzan-ing about my yard, lost in the irrepressible joy of just being. There is no expressing this Indiana Jones feeling when I come indoors: “I found a rock” sounds like only that and no more in a world composed of mostly rock and moss.  “I cleared that area down by the wetland,” I said, as I shed sweaty camouflage and fleece. “Oh.  Look at that stump!  It’s beautiful!” my wife replied. Yes.   Exactly.

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2 Responses to Exploration and Discovery

  1. rainyleaf says:

    I loved our week of sun! It felt like I was playing a video game with my kids and just earned five extra lives! Now I’m good to go for a while. The clearing looks nice in the sun!

    • calvincaley says:

      Thank you! Because of the winter angle, usually we have ‘full daylight’ but little direct sun back there-as opposed to spring and summer, when the bigleaf maples make everything shady. That sun WAS so welcome! There are always one or two days like that in early-ish February, it seems, though this time it lasted for several days. Definitely renews the spirit..

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