Friday, December 2, 2011

Still thankful

I'm sorting through the pictures I took during Thanksgiving weekend and I realize I do have enough for a post - better get it done before it already feels old!

What a nice, long, lazy weekend we had, all to ourselves. The warm weather took us outside for hours, exploring the woods and natural areas we find around here. While the turkey was roasting in the oven we walked - as usual - to Franklin park, where only a couple of golfers enjoyed the afternoon. I found this great Highbush blueberry I haven't noticed before.

At the back end of the golf course we entered an overgrown "island" of pinetrees. Suddenly, with a loud thump, a redtailed hawk landed right in front of us, securely grabbing a mouse with claws and teeth, not bothered by us at all. The mouse squeaked a little, then the hawk took it in its mouth and flew away to a pine tree where it continued to eat.

The next day we packed our lunches and went to Blue Hills Reservation, a large hiking and recreation area. In the summer we often swim in Houghton's pond, and during the year we often take walks on any of the many trails.
We sort of aimed for the highest hill without knowing if the kids would really make it, and we were not in any hurry. We sat down for lunch on a boulder, next to a little busy brook of water. A tree was merging itself with the rock.

Moss covered rocks lightened up the woods.

 Old Indian pipe flowers.

 The busy brook

 Almost neon-colored moss

 But the biggest excitement of the day was the discovery we made by the water side. A skull, not intact but with the missing pieces lying about, a piece of spine, bones from legs and hips.


 We are city people with little experience of larger animals, and we thought it might have been a dog or coyote. After going home and asked friends, and friends of friends, we were eventually told that it was a fawn - a young deer. We googled fawn skulls and indeed, there was a match.

We passed this beautiful evergreen leaves by the trail, and I was proud to be able to remember - Downy rattlesnake plantain, a native orchid. City people as we are, we pinned the site in my phone's gps system so that I can return in spring to see the flowers.

An old log covered in all sorts of mosses and lichens.

The following day we were back in Franklin park - we all really like it there. The ground was covered in paper thin beech leaves.

A little flower I've seen there before - I thought it might be another orchid but I couldn't find a match. I could have just waited until it flowered so I could identify it from a flower book, but I was too impatient, so another nature blogger helped me name it: Shinleaf, or Pyrola. Not too showy, but at least I know its name and I will like it even more now when I know what it is.

Our second mystery occurred. Who did the feathers belong to, and what happened? We didn't see any bones or other signs of a fatal incident, just these feathers. Maybe a bird got lucky that day. But what bird? These are big feathers. Could it be a wild turkey? And what attacked it?

After thanksgiving I went back to garden work. When I was working in a very neat, landscaped, tiny backyard I lifted up a couple of wet hosta leaves and found this:

Three tiny redbacked Salamanders. I was a little surprised at first but then remembered that this garden has a little pond with decorative plants around it. 

 I moved them carefully to a corner where I made sure I wasn't raking anything.

So Nature is so full of wonders, death, life. Signs, mysteries, so much taking place that we don't know anything of. And sometimes just peace - as with the little sleepy salamanders, or this little woodpecker who after eating sat on the feeder for a good 30 minutes, just taking a break.


  1. Well, that was a wonderful, wonder-filled walk! Amazing photos of that hawk. And so many finds, including those salamanders. To see that Rattlesnake Plantain in bloom, you'll have to wait until late July, early August. Although they're small, they're worth the wait. Love the larger photos.

  2. That was simply beautiful to all of my senses Asa..
    You are truly nature's child. xo