Saturday Morning Walk in the Woods

Yesterday morning I woke up and took Monty for a walk in the valley at the end of the park behind the house. He hasn't been down there yet, as I was waiting for him to be strong enough for a long walk. We made our way down the steep embankment, into the pathway that was gradually surrounded by ravine walls on either side. The chicken scratch wooden fence lined path became wilder and wilder until it was merely a trodden dirt path deeper into the valley. Car sounds vanished, to be replaced with the sound of birds, and Monty carefully followed me off leash as this was new territory to him. Voice commands helped him to stay to the path - "Hoi! This way! - hoop! This way!" and when I veered down towards the river, he bolted towards the river bank - finally getting his bearings.

Once on the wide river bank, which was covered in fine sand and stones, and small piles of finger-thick drift wood, and faced by a steep clay cliff eroded out from the high fields above, I sat down and watched the water flow by. I watched Monty explore and wade carefully into the rapids above the bank, and plop about in the shallows at the edge. He drank, we walked, he drank, he sniffed - this was good for a beagle.

I leaned over and stumbling about the stones and sand, gathering fistfuls of drift wood and piled them up right by the sand bank edge of the creek. Pulling out a pocketful of birch bark I had gathered on the way down, I withdrew my ferrocerium rod from my jacket and rolled the bark in my hands until it frayed and gathered in a fuzzy ball. A single draw of my knife across the rod sent sparks flying, and the birch bark was alight. I piled dried driftwood twigs and sticks into a tepee over the new flames. I laid out my jacket on the ground, sat down and watched the small fire burn.

A Spotted Sandpiper (I think) landed amongst the rapids and pecked about searching for grubs and bugs and minnows in the eddies at the top. Monty was very curious about this and launched himself as an introduction. Bird flew, and Monty paddled about investigating the minnow pools.

On the way back we were tromping up a hill covered in deep grass and cover when I smelled the smell of apple trees of my childhood. I looked up and the old orchard apple trees which had gone wild in the decades past showed their fruit pouring from laden branches. Red and small, they were perfectly ripe - the red extended deep into the meat of the fruit and I ate about 5 of them. Curved around other trees were wild grape vines - with purple grapes about the third of the size of a normal green grape. Each contained a single pip and I grabbed handfuls of these and snacked on them as we made our way up from the valley into the park again.

Monty trailed behind me in the park, under the hot sun, and every few feet I turned to see his progress. He eventually found a little shade by the baseball diamond and turned his back on me and sat down. He twisted his head around looking at me apologetically, or so it seemed. I clipped on his leash and we slowly made it the last block home.

A nice walk in woods - a great way to spend a Saturday morning.



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