G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post.
I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post.
I’m getting used to the snow…
..although there’s a snowstorm predicted for tonight which could cause intense suffering if there’s no school tomorrow.
Temps have been tolerable — it’s minus 6C outside and that doesn’t even sound bad for me now, particularly if there’s sunshine, as there is today, creeping in the skylight and across my toes.
Kate and her girls are back in school (Kate’s learning how to cut hair and did her first sideburn trim on a live target — me — the other day) and I am typing this at my new stand-up desk. We’ve been turning this end of the upstairs room into a garret-like study that serves Moe the Cat and I well as a place of refuge from occasional tantrum squalls downstairs.
There’s been lots of cleaning, Amazon and IKEA catalogue perusal and arranging. Numerous trips to Home Depot…
..and I have a new Dieffenbachia sharing the skylight illumination — call it an indoor- or houseplant rather than a pot plant in these parts and avoid the raised eyebrows.
But I knew I had to get some walking in each day, despite the snow, if I was going to emerge in Spring sane-ish and relatively slender. A few days back I walked the three miles to our regular coffee place, which helped me orient myself to my new urban environment. And soon afterwards it was time to try something a little more woodsy. Like, say, some woods.
There’s this green and inviting ridge near our place. Nobody I asked knew its name or the legality of walking it, but on Google Earth it looked glorious:
We’d driven past a side-road called Hilltop Drive that looked like a way in, and as luck would have it a Dunkin Donuts lurked nearby to snare week-willed passersby such as myself. As a hiker, one of my highest priorities when I move to a new place is locating the nearest source of decent caffeine-and-donut-based nutrition. So: free afternoon, two birds, one rock.
Off I ambled, past some woodpecker condos…
..keeping my head down…
..till the ridge came into view…
..then turned left on Rt 9 towards you-know-where, stopping for two Old Fashioneds and a latte, of sorts, that convinced me that the three-mile walk to Panera, our usual place, is worth the trouble.
Then, cradling my bounty, up the side-road…
..which ends abruptly at a turnaround at the edge of the trees.
A rough, snow-carpeted track with plenty of footprints. No signs, except those little ones telling you to clean up after your mutt, so it at least appeared open to the public. Good enough for me. I wandered in there and immediately surprised two deer that bounded off up the path, white tails flashing brilliantly in the dim light.
I didn’t go far. Kate would be home soon, and if I’m not ready with a foot massage when she slams the door she gets kinda scary. But I wandered in far enough to note that this place was Woodpecker Central:
Highly organised and literate woodpeckers:
A little research suggests that the likely culprit for those neatly spaced holes, above, is the yellow-bellied sapsucker, which can actually kill trees in its search for sap and insects. The Department of Agriculture found that when sapsuckers dropped by for lunch, there was…
..a mortality of 67% for Gray Birch (Betula populifolia), 51% for Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and 40% for Red Maple (Acer rubrum).
So this forest is obviously a work in progress.
Excited by the possibilities of the path — now christened the Woodpecker Trail — I went back with Kate the next morning, wisely bypassing Dirty Dunkin’ D:
Here’s the trail entrance — if trail it is:
Another short wander — Kate’s boots need re-waterproofing (one of today’s tasks) — but we went a little further. If anything, the woods were even more beautiful this time:
More woodpecker architecture:
Again, no frostbite, no amputations, and I was even walking bare-handed for short spells. Am I in danger of enjoying myself in the snow?
* Shopping trolley in the Queen’s English
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote