To The Woods

Forget indoor chores and projects. Pull on gym shorts, tank top, and beat-up old jogging shoes. Whistle up Maggie and Buck with my secret "are you ready for some fun" whistle, grab a camera and head to the woods.

Spring comes early to the Florida panhandle woods. I think these lipstick red leaves are a normally green smilax vine, but I haven't been able yet to find a reference for a variety of smilax that turns red in the spring. Whatever, it is gorgeous.

This snaky vine looks like an evergreen feather boa. It grows in wet, sandy places. I used to know what it is. Any ideas?

Maggie is 10 and a half now, but still has a puppy's curious nose. Lots of good smells on the walk today, even in an old wood pile. We ended our mid-day walk along the stream bed and laughed to see Maggie stretched out full length in the sandy-bottomed, spring-fed cool, shallow water.

Each spring, I wonder if this old oak, the one we call "survivor tree," will put out new leaves again. It has been struck by lightning, decimated by hurricane, bashed by pines falling on it. It has even suffered the indignity of butt rot. And yet, it perseveres; its generous heart shelters a young Longleaf that may one day grow up through its canopy and fall on it.

The base of "survivor tree" has developed a gorgeous patina. It looks like huge shards of mica, with a green velvet scarf.

See scar tissue, and healing; the beauty of toughness.

This pine, stripped now to its heart, is the mother of the young one growing so close to "survivor tree."

The top fell long ago. It has almost completely returned to the soil where it fell. What remains is soft, pliable and lovely.

The young forest is emerging. Most of these small trees were planted in 2004. They are tall enough now to change the way shade falls onto the fire line paths.



20 thoughts on “To The Woods

  1. Wow. Did you do something to your site that now allows me to comment? I’ve tried many times, and it refused to accept my ID.


  2. Your baby pines are growing up! Being able to say that means I’ve been following their growth for 6 years…how time flies! Your pictures are amazing as always…especially like the evergreen feather boa today…what an appropriate name and the way the shades of green change as they flow toward the tip.


  3. The only thing better than spring is an early spring. Years ago I attended a creativity conference in Buffalo, NY, in June. Their spring was in full bloom. I returned a couple years later in April, and sub-zero high winds had frozen everything. Huh-uh. Nossir. Your images of early spring are wonderful, and something similar is happening in the Hill Country.


  4. I’m so glad you posted this, Beth. I’ve missed seeing Longwood through your lens. And it was specially fun to see your 2004 pine plantings. I remember that year and your posts about the plantings and have wondered how they fared through the storms since. It was a reassurance to see such vibrant life.


  5. Beth, I’m way behind on your blog but I loved these beautiful pictures of spring and your luscious descriptions. As I looked at the young pines, I was thinking of the birds that will be drawn to them soon – Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler nest in these kinds of habitats. Let me know if they do come. You’ll love their colors and songs. Wishing you a wonderful weekend. We’re having lovely spring weather here in VA this weekend – sunny and mid-70s.


  6. The pictures are great. We miss you and Frank in the North Carolina mountains, but you have beautiful scenery where you are. In the cove the trees and flowers are bursting forth and the snow has finally melted from the mountain tops.I am sure you are weeks ahead of us. I am breathing a sigh of relief that spring has finally come, but there is a freeze warning for tonight.


  7. Hey Betty! Great to hear from you. We miss you, Dave and all the folks there in Beaverdam, and we miss the beautiful mountains, too. May just have to come back. We thought we had a tough winter, but it was a piece of cake compared with Western North Carolin (and lots of other places in the country). I’ll bet the cove really is something.
    Thanks for leaving a comment. Please give a hug to Jack, Aileen, and all our other friends. Love you, Beth


  8. Hi Loretta, thanks for stopping by to check in to see if I’m still alive and kicking! The sap is rising, and with it my inclination to tap on the keyboard. I’ve got some catching up to do on my favorite blogs (like yours, way at the tippy top of a very excellent list).


  9. Hi Barry,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind word. I love the phrase “generous sensibility.” By the way, there’s a new post and some photo over at the Sugar Shack blog, too. (The link is at the top of this blog’s front page.) It’s finally warm enough here that I’m not longing to be in Naples every day!


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