Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trail Maker

Rex's woods had been neglected over the years, probably at some point a farmer's woodlot. But he is a woodland trail maker -its his favorite activity. It gives him an intimate knowledge of the woods he lives in and opens the woods up to people, mainly his neighbors. Last year I carved a trail sign out of Redwood for his network of trails. We mounted it on two Cedar posts this passed July at the head of the main trail behind the house.

Rex uses the fallen timber to frame the trails and the wood chips from the chainsawing to soften the path. Moss often grows on the old logs.

He can often be found clearing the woodland brush. These woods have been invaded by Buckthorn, an invasive brought over from Europe as a hedging shrub. Over many months he piles up the brush and twigs which form great piles like the one below.

At any given time there may be a few of these piles around the woods. In winter, if there is good enough snow cover, he will burn these piles. I'd like to be there when he does.

Heart Land

My father-in-law, Leroy (Rex), has ownership of about 38 acres in south central Minnesota. Its quite different out there, from my vantage point here in Brooklyn, NY. This blog will be about that landscape.

The land is glacially sculpted, much like the land I grew up with on Long Island, NY. But his land sits in the Big Woods- an area defined by deciduous forest. The land is hilly, or rolling, with many small and large lakes (the land-o-lakes), wetlands and bogs. To the west is prairie. This part of Minnesota has distinct boundaries, created in part by the glaciation, in part by precipitation, and partly by fires. As you drive west, you can sense the change from the Big Woods region to the prairie region even though it has been drastically altered by farming.