Thursday, December 26, 2019

First Snow

Although there were some snow flurries in early November and a dusting a week or so later, the first time we had what most of us would call a real snowfall was in the pre-dawn darkness a few days before Thanksgiving. It still wasn’t much, with only about an inch and a half of heavy, wet white stuff on the ground. Still, it was enough to prompt a neighbor to clear his driveway – despite the forecast of 45°F late in the afternoon.

There will be plenty of chances to wield shovel and snowblower in the coming weeks so I headed to the Big Woods to enjoy what might best be called a winter wonderland – in spite of the fact that it was still fall.

During the short drive to my usual parking place the trees on surrounding hillsides were coated with snow –

From there I walked an old road into the forest –

That old road passes a line of sugar maples that, over 100 years ago, shaded a one-room school where the local children received their education. The building is long gone, but the sugar maples remain –

Further along, the road swings close to the stream that drains the valley; the rocks in the stream had a topping of new fallen snow –

From there I left the road and walked into the forest –

Where the few leaves still hanging from maple twigs also bore a layer of snow –

Small American beech hold their leaves long into the winter and bear a heavy burden whenever a wet, sticky snow falls –

Speaking of beech, a contorted beech sapling provided a change of view from the otherwise straight trees –

Back along the stream I went, enjoying the sound of the flowing water and the snow covered logs and rocks –

Time to head for home, passing a picturesque small hemlock –

And an American hornbeam along the way –

Yes, by late afternoon almost all the snow had melted and the next day there was none.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Good-bye Trudi

Dogs are only in our lives for a short time, 
but they stay in our memories for as long as we live.

Trudi died last week and she’ll be greatly missed. Our son and his family adopted her after she had been returned to their local shelter, they loved her and she loved them in return – she especially loved our son and he reciprocated. Trudi also loved the rest of her extended adoptive family and we felt the same toward her.

Trudi was featured in this post a couple of years ago. About that time she was diagnosed with a tumor on her pancreas which hadn’t impacted her significantly until the last few months.

She always enjoyed a good walk even as her condition worsened; she took her last "I'm happy to be out here" walk just two days before she died.

Now she’s gone and many a tear has been shed, but she’s left us all with wonderful memories –


Trudi was a great dog, we were privileged to have had her in our lives – Good-bye Trudi.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bucks in the Night

In northcentral Pennsylvania the breeding season (the rut) for white-tailed deer peaks in mid-November. Some bucks become interested in does in October and they may continue pursuing the ladies until January, but most does are bred during two weeks in the middle of November.

Research has shown that, as the breeding season approaches, bucks begin roaming widely and many entirely leave their home range in search of receptive does. After breeding season those bucks that survive hunting season tend to return to their home range.

The camera traps on the hill above the house captured videos of bucks that came in search of the does that frequent the area. 

The videos were taken at the peak of the rut, only the spike (called 2-point in the video) and the 4-point were around before the rut; then the larger bucks came looking for girlfriends. Those two young bucks were probably 1½ years old and hadn’t dispersed earlier in the year – but they may have dispersed to look for a new home now that the big guys have arrived, the young bucks haven't been caught on camera traps again.

Those big bucks might hang around for a while before most of them gradually make their way back to the home ranges they occupied earlier in the year. Others may find our area more to their liking and stay here.