Aldo Leopold and going on a ramble

Last year while doing research at the Cornell University library I wandered over to the nearby bookstore for a study break, and picked up a wonderful book called Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work by Curt D. Meine. In his youth Leopold was drawn to the woods and took long “rambles”, usually with his sketch pad and pencil handy. He especially liked to make maps of the places he frequented. Yesterday I went on a ramble on our property, but I had a camera instead of a sketch pad.

April ramble
April ramble--lower beaver pond

I saw nesting pairs of Canada geese, scared up quite a few small ducks, and listened to red-winged blackbirds staking out territory from the tops of fence posts.  I was only out there for an hour or so, but I found two deer ticks on me when I got home, so we’ll have to be careful this year. I mostly followed deer trails, and I found plenty of deer and coyote scat, plus evidence of industrious beavers.

beaver felled hop hornbeam
beaver felled hop hornbeam near upper pond

This hop-hornbeam (ironwood) tree had been recently cut; the sap was still flowing from the trunk. I was hoping to see a beaver, but although I stood quietly for while on the pond edge, I only exchanged stares with vigilant canada geese. Finally on my way back out two beavers swam over near the edge of the lower pond to check me out. I expected some tail slaps but they must have been in a mellow mood. And I stayed a fair distance from the water so maybe I was not too frightening. The trees are flowering and the woods have a lacy look at this time of year.

April lace
Woods near the upper beaver pond

It’s hard to see but in this picture there’s a nesting pair of canada geese, one on the nest and one nearby in the water keeping watch over me.

mu'er fungus?
mu'er fungus? and moss

I found another kind of lace, too, on a boulder underneath an old yellow birch. I think this is what is called in Chinese mu’er, wooden-ear fungus, and it is featured in many yummy Chinese dishes. I didn’t try it, or gather it for cooking–not knowledgeable enough. I grew up in the woods, and was taught to never eat a fungus I wasn’t certain of!

I saw lots of buds and green shoots of wildflowers and plants, but mostly the color scheme was still washed-out beige and browns.

water and grass
grass and middle beaver pond
last year's nest
last year's nest
beaver lodge
beaver lodge, middle pond
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