Winter Storm

We’ve had a week of snow and sleet storms. The snow hasn’t been that bad but the two rounds of sleet have covered the woods with a thick layer of ice. Trees are bent under the weight, limbs are breaking, trees are falling over. At the same time there’s a beauty with the pale white sky, snow on the ground, and ice-covered-everything.

Animals have been out and their tracks are visible in the snow. These are possum tracks, the hand-like tracks are paired like this, front and rear footprints with another set several inches away. We have possums visiting our compost piles and sheds all the time but usually we don’t see signs until there’s snow on the ground.

The first layer of ice built up during a rain when the temperature was just a tad below freezing. The photos I’m posting are all of the first layer. A few days later an additional layer of ice built up during a similar rain/sleet. The trees are starting to bud and sometimes there are large colorful buds encased in thick ice like fairy jewels.

In the garden area, to the south of the fenced garden, there’s a spot with tall grass in the summer, hip high. Here’s the dried grass from last year covered with ice.

The woods are really quiet when they are like this. Everything looks and sounds different.

Honeysuckle overhead in a sort of bower to the south of the garden fence. We move composted leaves in the spring from a pile from the previous autumn in our yard to here to finish breaking down. Last year’s leaves make this year’s mulch.

Pines with their needles collect and hold the rain. The boughs become extremely heavy when they are filled with ice like this. Large pines are bent over. Sometimes trees break, sometimes they uproot and fall over. Not just pines, I took a walk after the first ice storm and counted 4 large red oaks tipped over by the weight of the ice.

We’ll have some cleaning up to do after the ice and snow melts. We’ve kept the road open from our home to the woods gate. So far nothing large has fallen across roads, the cleanup will be mostly removing branches and tree tops.

Firewood Season

We heat our home in winter using a wood burning stove (we have two woodstoves going when it is really cold). Winter is also when we cut, split and stack firewood for the next heating season. I’ve been cutting firewood in a several locations, most recently on the point south of our garden and home. I’ve always loved the point. The trees are second growth hardwood and the forest is mature so it is open rather than densely filled with saplings. There are still understory trees like dogwoods.

The spot where I’ve been working is where 4 trees had fallen in a cluster, a decent sized white oak, a large red oak, and two smaller red oaks.

The split pieces of the white oak are in the foreground. The large red oak splits are in the background. I was still working on splitting pieces of this tree when the photo was taken.

Since this is winter there is sometimes snow on the ground when I’m working. This photo is taken looking south across a large hollow. Some of the large red oak’s top limbs can be seen in the left foreground of the photo.

Sometimes when I split wood I come upon exceptionally beautiful pieces, usually at crotches or where there are limbs. The colors are bright on a freshly split piece of green wood, they quickly dim as the surface moisture dries. There is also that special aroma when firewood is cut and split.

The white oak is stacked in the right of the photo. I still have some to stack for the large red oak. The other two oaks are cut, and one is split ready to stack.

Late Autumn 2020

I haven’t been doing a good job posting updates. It’s not because things haven’t been happening here; it’s because it’s all too easy to get caught up in the day to day. To end the year I’m posting some photos showing some of the textures and colors we see in the woods. All but the last photo are of tree bark, slowly rotting tree stumps, and moss. The last photo I took the day after Christmas when there was snow on the ground. It shows marks left by bird wings on the snow as birds hunt for seeds.