Closing in

young maple leavesI’ve been specially aware of the restitching of the woods here this week. Perhaps it began when a wild gust of a southwest wind off the cold lake water met the rising heat from our  rocky woods. This burst was followed by a queer, glittering stillness. Only later did a wrenching “crack” make me glance out the window in time to see a slender young tree fold into pieces and collapse to the ground with a crash. Within this particular piece of woodland, the pattern of life will change now. The new clearing where the tree fell will surely allow the entrance of an unusual amount of light and wind, which may open the forest community to further ravages. But the tree’s death may also open the way for new pioneering saplings, which may rush up to lend their support to the interwoven web of the forest.

Living as I do, in a clearing, what I am noticing most right now is the swift enclosure of edges.  My entire vision of our woodland is changing. Before we bought this land, cottagers foraged for easily harvested firewood, leaving the margins relatively open. May is the beginning of flourishing new growth. Soon, once again, a startlingly dense canopy will change our landscape. However, what I am noticing most this spring is how quickly the borders are regathering the forest community into itself. For our first years at Singing Meadow, even in summer, we had unnaturally easy views into the heart of our woods. But how quickly saplings have taken advantage of the favorable ease at the edges. Aspens, basswood and ash, along with tangling, twining, vines and brambles are racing to shut the doors into the woods. Before long I see that I will no longer be able to simply glimpse the interior. I will need to enter it.

About Peri McQuay

Peri Phillips McQuay is the author of Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home, The View From Foley Mountain, a book of nature meditations on her experiences living for 30 years at the Foley Mountain Conservation Area and A Wing in the Door: Life With a Red-tailed Hawk is the story of her adventures with Merak, a human-imprinted hawk, who lived free but saw McQuay and her family as her special people. Also Peri has written numerous essays, articles, book reviews and a weekly column, published in the Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine. Her credits include Country Journal, Harrowsmith, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Snowy Egret, Seasons, The Fiddlehead, Herizons and Brick.
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