A little forest walk

A Little Forest Walk

Above the craggy mountain that I live against is a small community forest composed of 600-plus acres with some astonishing views and excellent birding, as I discovered this morning. To my great delight, I heard the first Indigo bunting of the year and many warblers dear to my heart. Wandering off by myself, I heard the hermit thrush’s poignant musical trill, a song that sometimes wakens me at dawn.

I was pleased to note that since the last time I was here just after the forest had been brutally logged, some lush greenery including burnished young oaks seemed to be thriving. I noted that the young hemlocks were free of the woolly adelgid. Hemlocks are foundational trees meaning that they mediate flooding, lower forest temperatures in summer, and provide shelter for birds and animals in the winter. They continue to be indicators of general forest health. Discovering a hidden cluster of about 30 lady slippers enchanted me. The forest is in recovery …

When I decided to attend this bird walk because James, the leader is my friend and the person who taught me how to listen to birds (I had learned as a toddler to identify birds by sight), I was ambivalent – wary – hoping that new greenery would disguise recent tree slaughter. It did. What I didn’t expect was to see so much beauty. Of course, the Greening of the Earth steals my heart every single year. It makes it impossible for me to leave my blooming fruit trees and carpeted wildflowers home for the last two weeks in May. Instead, I disappear into the transforming.

Earth Consciousness Becomes All There Is.

When I walked over the gravelly granite road and learned how soon a trail would be created to allow physically challenged folks to reach mountain ledges for a view, I decided I could live with the one snowmobile trail that bisected the property. At least during the winter (if the snow remains firm), no plants will be crushed or damaged. I believe that the ever-worsening problem of air/water pollution due to the (often unnecessary) massive use of lawnmowers and recreational machines is an issue that needs urgent attention by conservation groups/land trusts everywhere because these ‘protected’ places are behavioral models for the general public. How can we promote an earth consciousness/ awareness if we stay stuck in our individual/ or particular group wants? The loud noise and pollution from all machines destroy the peace of the woods for humans, animals, and trees (yes, trees hear).

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Bucks Ledge Community Forest models what a responsible ‘land trust’ chooses to prioritize. Developing an earth consciousness would allow us to perceive that we are one of many intelligent species, not the only one. This inability/unwillingness to absorb oneself into the greater whole is an issue that remains under the Giant Shadow of our destructive economy, the indifference of willful people intent on using machines without restraint no matter what the cost, and those whose toxic optimism blinds them to what is.

The Community Forest at Buck’s Ledge sets a concrete example of responsible stewardship, as well as the importance of a light touch to a forest in recovery by creating narrow winding woodland paths that allow folks to pay attention to their surroundings, as well as demonstrating the critical importance of a light human footprint. This little forest also allows access by road to those who are physically challenged and might not otherwise be able to approach a mountain summit to appreciate the views. Donations for further improvements are gratefully accepted.

Both of these ideas and the approach – allowing the forest to recover by creating woodland paths and allowing access for those who cannot walk them to the summit – impress me deeply.

I want to close by saying that I will soon be going back to climb Moody Mountain to make friends with whoever I might meet in this little protected forest. And lastly, I want to offer my gratitude to those who have worked so hard to make a woodland sanctuary out of a mountain that suffered rape in my own backyard.

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