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Posts Tagged ‘Tree Roots’

Years ago I tried to do a post on Chesterfield Gorge, which lies over in Neighboring Chesterfield New Hampshire ,but it was really too dark there for the light gathering capabilities of my camera and I gave up on the place. Until recently that is; a helpful reader wrote and told me that our terrible storms this summer had toppled some trees and let in much more light, so last Saturday I went to see for myself. There was indeed more light available and I was finally able to get some passable shots of the gorge.

Chesterfield Gorge was created by Wilde Brook and it is said that it has taken it many thousands of years to cut through the bedrock to where it is today. The cool, shaded gorge has been enjoyed by locals for hundreds of years and in 1936 a local farmer named George White bought the land to be sure it would be forever preserved. It eventually became a state park and now anyone can enjoy it at no cost. There were many people here on this day including lots of children, which always gladdens my heart.

In places you’re high above the canyon that the brook has made and in the most dangerous areas the state has put up fencing to keep people back from the edge. But people will be people and some are foolhardy enough to climb the fences just so they can “get a little closer.” Not me; no photo is worth that fall.

The last time I came here there was only one bridge across the gorge because the raging waters of the brook had washed the upper bridge away. Happily I found a new one in its place this time. Though Wilde Brook seems placid enough it can quickly turn into a monster, so I’d never come here right after the kind of storms we’ve had recently. Over a foot of rain has now fallen in some places in just 4 weeks.  The brook starts at small ponds upstream and flows down into Partridge Brook in Westmoreland.  The last time I visited Partridge Brook I found that it also had raged and had scoured its bed right down to bedrock in places. It had also completely altered the landscape and had caused some serious flooding.

One of the trees that fell was a very big and old golden birch. There are many of them in this forest.

Sawdust on the inside of the fallen birch points to carpenter ants. I’m guessing that it probably had woodpecker holes as well because they love carpenter ants. Note the hollowed out space where the tree’s heart wood should have been.

Dry rot in the heart of the fallen birch pointed to fungi, and there were plenty of different mushrooms growing all over the fallen logs. The fungi rot the wood, ants move in, and before long a 100 foot tall tree is completely hollow inside. Add 60+ MPH winds and a lot of them come down; hopefully not on houses.

Some of the older birch logs displayed this wavy pattern. I think it was in the inner bark but I’m not positive, and I don’t know why it would be on only parts of certain logs. It was beautiful, like it had been sculpted.

I saw a lot of tiger’s eye fungi (Coltricia perennis,) also called fairy stools.  This one shows how the velvety cap reflects the sun and makes it look shiny. These are very pretty little mushrooms that vary in size and color. This one was probably an inch across and might have stood an inch tall.

I also saw lots of yellow spindle coral fungi (Clavulinopsis fusiformis) growing along the trail. These fungi almost always grow in tight cluster like these examples but I did see a single “finger” here and there.

Many trees had fallen into or across the gorge. It didn’t look like there was any way to get them out or to even cut them up. What will most likely happen is the next flood will wash them away.

The lower bridge is smaller than the upper one. It’s apparently also less likely to wash away, though I’m not sure why it would be.

I was surprised to see how low the water was by the lower bridge, but even so in places it still ran with enough force to knock a person down.

Here was a small, dammed up pool that looked perfect to cool off in. I often find these shallow pools that have been made by someone damming up a stream or brook with stones they’ve found just lying around. It’s hard to tell how long they’ve been there but I do know that people in the 1800s weren’t so very different than we are today when it came to recreation.

I’ve had some breathing issues lately so I’ve avoided hill climbing in the hot, humid weather we’ve had, but I had forgotten what a hike it was all the way down there and then back up again. I had to stop and pretend I had seen something interesting a couple of times while I caught my breath but I did surprisingly well. If this Louisiana weather ever leaves us I’ll have to start climbing again.

I kept taking photos of the gorge, trying to show how deep it really is. The safety fence at the top of the photo is about 4 feet high, so that should give you a sense of how far the drop to the water would be. I wish I could have gotten a closer look at all the plants on that cliff face, but it wasn’t possible.

Here’s one of those interesting things I saw while I stopped and caught my breath. At some point someone had bent a piece of iron into an S shape and hammered it into the end of this post. It looked quite old but I can’t guess what it meant.

Near the post was what looked like an old well cover. That’s something you have to be careful of in these woods because the wooden covers have often been there for a very long time and are rotted. And they’re often covered by leaves, so you have to pay attention, especially when near old cellar holes.

I saw lots of tree roots on the trail. I think the recent heavy rains have washed a lot of soil away from them, and that weakens their holding power so when a strong wind blows, down they go.

Some of the tree roots looked as if they had been carved and polished by an artist; so beautiful you wish you could take them home. I can’t guess how many years and how many feet it would take to do this.

I’ve chosen this little mushroom as the prettiest thing I saw on this day, but not just then; I’m seeing them everywhere I go this year and that seems a little odd since I can’t remember ever seeing them before. I love its colors and its waviness. I think it’s called the smooth chanterelle (Cantharellus lutescens) but I couldn’t guarantee that. There are a few chanterelle mushrooms that look a lot alike.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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Special Note: In case you haven’t heard today (Saturday) and tomorrow nights are nights of the “super moon,” when the moon is expected to appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than at any other time this year. As if that weren’t enough, the Eta Aquarid meteor display also happens this weekend. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

Every now and then I run across something that I think is really interesting so I take a picture of it. Then when I’m putting a blog post together quite often the interesting thing doesn’t really fit in, so it sits and waits for another post. This post contains all of those things that just wouldn’t fit in anywhere else. I hope you’ll think they are as interesting as I did. Opened cones of the Eastern white cedar or arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis.) I’ve seen many thousands of these but the color of these ones was simply amazing; a beautiful non-flower that looks like a flower. There was a big black slug beside these spring mushrooms, and I wondered if it had been eating them. From what I’ve read, this is most likely the slug called black arion (Arion ater,) also known as the European black slug, which is an invasive species. There is a catch all category of difficult to identify mushroom called LBMs, which stands for little brown mushrooms. Some are harmless and some, like those in the genus Galerina are deadly. They can grow in spring, summer or fall and are often found on logs. I wonder if they are toxic to slugs too. Oak marble gall. Galls can be caused by various insects laying their eggs on the twigs (usually a wasp.) The oak tries to protect itself by growing a gall around the insect eggs. Little does the oak know that this is exactly what the insect wants it to do; once the eggs hatch the larva eat their way out of the gall, leaving a tiny escape hole in the shell of an empty brown marble.  If you find one with no hole like those in the photo, an insect larva is still in residence. Iron sulfate mixed with tannic acid from oak galls made ink that was the standard writing and drawing ink from the 12th century until well into the 20th century. Some still use it today.

 This blue bottle fly was kind enough to hold still while I took its picture. I wish I could get a blue heron to do the same. Maybe I just have to start small and work my way up.

 This spent puffball caught my eye because it was bigger than a quarter. It wintered well. I don’t know what plant left these seed heads on all winter, but I like their furry, animal like appearance.

 I haven’t shown any lichens for a while, so here is a nice one. The rain we’ve had recently should plump most lichens up. Because this has a leafy look it is in the foliose lichen family. I haven’t shown any turkey tails (Trametes versicolor ) lately either. Here they are growing on a mossy tree trunk. I see them almost everywhere I go, but I’m still searching for a blue one. If I could find blue turkey tails and some blue lichens I’d be a mighty happy hiker.

These virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana) seeds shining in the sun were an attention getter. Virgin’s bower is our native wild clematis vine that blooms anytime from July through September. It is usually found draped over shrubs or climbing up trees. Clusters of small white flowers cover the plant, and the hairy looking seeds that follow give it another common name: Old Man’s Beard. I have the cultivated variety that blooms in the fall growing on a trellis in my yard. The fragrance is unmatched. 

 The very top of a pine tree broke off and was lying on the ground in the middle of a trail. My grandmother had a cuckoo clock that used metal pine cones as weights to keep the clock running and those cones looked exactly like this one. I remember as a boy wanting those metal pine cones very badly, but I can’t remember why. Maybe it was because they tried to be as beautifully bronze-like as the real one shown here.

 This lone milkweed was the only one to escape the roadside mowing crew last year, and then it stood all through the winter. For perseverance alone, I thought it deserved having its picture taken. This is another tree root that I thought looked beautiful enough to have been carved by an artist. The smooth, sanded and polished look that comes to wood from weathering is amazing, and I always wonder how many years it took nature to create such a thing. I have a bookcase that holds several wooden art objects like this, and it’s very hard for me to leave these foundlings behind in the forest.  And that is precisely why I don’t carry a saw. 

This is the kind of weather we’ve seen here this week. I’m hoping for clearing so I can see the moon this weekend.

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.  ~Author Unknown

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these things that I occasionally stumble upon in the fields and forests. Thanks for visiting. Be safe in the woods.

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