Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Six Points of Normalcy

Time slips by and I don't manage to get my canoe in the water on a day that is ideally calm for a paddle.  Instead, I walk south towards the ocean, and then west when I get there, and then south again as the shore goes that way.  This takes me through one of the lowest of neighborhoods, one that is about a block wide with ocean on one side and a large wetland on the other.  All the way along are piles of remnants - carpeting, wood, furniture and just plain stuff.  The water flooded the ground floor of anyone who had a ground floor.  My camera stays in my pack, no one needs me taking photos of their problems.  Once in awhile I can see through an open door - the sheetrock stripped, the floor pulled up exposing the joists so that the crawl space and structure can dry out.  At least two houses are just plain gone.  Soon, they will rebuild and repair so that they can knock down the walls and pull up the floor and throw out the furniture again, and again, until the house falls down.

I reach Silver Sands and walk the beach until Iget to the first boardwalk that takes me back to firm land on the opposite side of the marsh.  There is no damage to anything unless it is man-made.  When one walks off trail in the forest, a fallen tree is a fallen tree.  It is only damage if it should happen to fall across a road or trail or campground. 

Nature happens to everything.  
Damage happens to man.  
Change is natural.  

Even here, following the hurricane, I am hard pressed to find damage in places where we have not made something.  The marshes didn't change appearance one bit, surviving their total flooding as if it was just a normal occurrence.  ...that's what I think about when I walk.

Just as I get to the main road, a large 6-point whitetail buck crosses the street with no more hurry to its step than my own.  It sees nothing out of the usual.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


First, I've decide to continue this blog.  Even though I am no longer at Smoke Farm, it seemed to make sense to continue logging my terrestrial explorations in the same place.  Of course, Smoke Farm contributed so much to what I am continuing to do that, in a sense, it is still "notes from Smoke Farm".

Today -
I came prepared without a map, but with my compass on a lanyard around my neck - the antithesis of a boat anchor.

There are trails here, but no signs to direct me to them, so I walk up the hill into an open deciduous forest that has already dropped its leaves - an orange mat punctuated by the countless grey boulders that define the close-up view of the woods in this region.  I figure that I will eventually cross a trail and I do, although it is the pawings and scat of white tailed deer and old stone fences from when this was a farm.  The newest and the oldest of goings.

I find a trail and it heads to my left and to my right, either of which is as good for me as the other.  The trail becomes an old farm road.  It leaves the forest for a patchwork of old farm fields defined by more stone fences.  And then, it becomes a trail again, just as the rain begins.  The rain in a bare tree forest where the leaves are on the ground creates noise that is out of proportion with the rainfall.  It reminds me of the loafing shed at Smoke Farm and how the tin roof made a light sprinkle sound like a midwestern thunderstorm in full roar.  As I near the stone foundation of a house, I hear a branch crack.  I pause.  Then, I take a step or two and a very large white-tailed deer, a doe, bounds out of the brush and down the trail ahead of me with its very long white flag held high.  It is that out-of-proportion rain sound that enabled me to get so close, the rain on leaves hiding the sound of my feet, which to a deer make noise that is out of proportion to the size of the animal.

The vine does not always win

The trail ends at a road and I backtrack until I am bored with retracing my steps - something like 50 yards.  I go cross country again finding and following deer trails, because deer trails are usually the path of least resistance when going off trail.  It goes well until I near those farm fields.  The brush grows dense and I find myself greatly relieved to know that the Pacific Northwest does not have a monopoly on plants with large sharp thorns.

I come out into a field to find a man walking slowly in a big circle.  He is my size.  When he sees me he puts out his hand and we shake.  I have large hands, but not compared to him.  "I'm Yugo," he says in deep voice with a heavy accent from somewhere in the place formerly called Yugoslavia.  He is the assistant gardener at the community plot that lies some hundred yards distance.  We talk briefly and I head off into the forest again.  I suspect that I will see him again.

White-tailed deer

The trail follows a ridge and then drops down to a pond.  There is a picnic shelter with a group of men warming themselves at the fireplace.  One comes over and we talk about deer.  He slept nearby last night and they heard deer moving about all night.  It starts to rain again and I continue and a couple hundred yards further on I surprise two more does, who eye me cautiously rather than run off.