After the snow has gone and before the leaves bud out there’s a pause between seasons that’s just right for exploring the woods. Because the forest floor litter has yet to rebound from its recent compaction from the weight of snow, land shapes are clearly defined. Ancient trees have left evidence of their former stature in the earth pillows and cradles created by their toppling and uprooting. Dark, moist ledge outcrops and loose stone screes stand out on dry slopes. Stone fences, once lining high meadows, now stand only as a testament to a bygone sheep farmer’s singular tenacity.
Today I took inventory of stone resources I can employ in upcoming projects. My supply is abundant but difficult to access due to its remote location. I’ll return in high summer with equipment to do some harvesting. The underbrush will be thick, the stones concealed. I’ll have to remember this day, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. There’s one memory that’s sure to last. A glossy-coated black bear galloped across the trail in front of me. Up a steep hillside it scampered without breaking stride until pausing briefly to peer through the trees at the invader of its woods.