Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taking Out The Trash

Our pails, a silent sentry, as instructed -three feet apart, at the intersection of the woods, road and drive. A hawk, circling high overhead, issues its gritty reeeeeeeahh. The road, here, is quiet and I am noise.

Downslope, down road, toward the late autumn sun, down low.

Removing the trash and recyclables is a journey by any New York City standard. I, for one, was fond of dropping my trash right out the window into the pails below, but not here. No, trash removal has several steps, one of which is rolling the bin down slope, toward the culverted passage between one wetland and the other, then upslope to the road.

To my mind, it is cold out, for November, maybe six degrees F, yet the empty-handed return along the tenth-of-a-mile drive frees my senses for seeing, and I found myself trailing farther down slope, into the wetland, along a deer trail.

The wet lowlands contain the most attractive sites on this land, but the green season mosquitoes chase me out too quickly. In the white (or brown) season, I take time.

The drainage opens up, like a park, onto the wetland, the edge of which is favored by deer, coyote, turkey, and me.

Although the ground has yet to freeze, the wetland is firm enough for walking. I've explored its perimeter, before this moment, in December or January.

The wetland is, by its nature an amphitheater, a concavity, surrounded almost completely by upland elevated fifty to a hundred feet above the occasional water line. On its western flank is the headland of an esker that carries southward to frame lakes that were at one time deeper and larger. Our (Rex's) house sits on land that was likely a small island or peninsula, long ago, near this lake's northern boundary.

Recent heavy rains have been quickly eroding the steeply sloped land to the northwest and northeast, washing out sediment that fills the small wetland due north of house island. Soil and organic matter have been filling this basin for thousands of years. Trees have taken root in drier spells, then were soaked out in wetter ones. Water enters the large wetland at three points -east, north, and west, converging, then heads south toward a pinched outlet that funnels the water to a small, nameless pond, then farther on to Dutch Lake, and finally into Harrison Bay.

The cattails (I haven't yet identified the predominant species) have exploded into their fat and furry season, regal and rough. Finally, my camera and fingers are beat back by the cold and I head back into the woods.

The bones of the land are most clear in winter.