Haven’t spent enough time in the Woods, lately, and New Year’s Day was a pretty one, so off I went. There’s a preserved bit of Maritime Forest nearby and it has become a lovely State Park. A few hours hanging out in the Woods got the New Year off to a good start. The Park was crowded, but no one else was out where I was.
In an exploratory mood, I found a new trail, just a path, really. It was low land, very lightly traveled, a few hundred yards from the Bay. There was just some Birds, Squirrels, and a Marsh Rat, or two, running around, among the big Pines and scrubby Oaks. I could hear what was probably a Pileated Woodpecker banging away on one of the dead Pines, but never did catch a glimpse of the wary bird. As you walk through the Woods, it seems like not much is there, but stop and stand or sit quietly for a while and an amazing variety of small Birds just pop out of the background and zip through the scrub and trees.
One of the benefits of exploring a new place, obviously, is coming across something cool and beautiful that you didn’t know was there. Today didn’t disappoint, and the highlight was rounding a bend and stepping into a beautiful Moss Cathedral. The Park was home to, for a time, the northernmost stand of Spanish Moss, but it has continued northward and now has a foothold in several places on the Eastern Shore. This silver grey epiphyte hangs from branches in stringy clumps, like long hair that’s been alternating between dips in the Sea and drying off in warm Trade Winds. It brings the the Gothic charm of the deep Southern Swamps to scattered groves in the Forest. When it’s thick, hanging abundantly from thirty or forty feet up, with low afternoon Light sharply contrasting and piercing the striated shade it makes, the effect is hauntingly Beautiful.
It was a fun hike, almost three miles through low woods bordering salt marsh and creeks on a mild afternoon, a few hours of recharging Body, Mind, and Soul to face the Year that lies ahead…