Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Woods

The bulk of the leaves have fallen and the woodland walking trails are now covered over. The combination of deer and human foot traffic will have the paths visible again by spring, but the leaves being crushed and trampled into the soil will help protect the trails from erosion.

The woods don’t look much different than they did prior to leaf out in the spring. Windy and rainy conditions over the summer brought many standing dead trees to ground. The number of new fallen trees seems to balance the number of old trees that have finally lost their shape and crumbled to the ground. A casual observer probably wouldn’t notice the subtle changes that are constantly occurring. Since I’m a frequent visitor to the woods, I tend to notice when a tree loses its fight with gravity; especially when the tree ends up blocking one of my paths.

The extremely wet summer caused the woodland Diarrhena Grass to flourish. Fallen leaves are hidden by the grass stalks and the woodland floor takes on an uncharacteristic shaggy appearance.

The last logging effort left some openings in the woods large enough to encourage the establishment of Eastern Red Cedars. I would probably remove these cedars if there weren’t so many other more important things to do. Cedars are sometimes detrimental to the spring wildflower population because of the year round shade they provide. When they are just a few scattered cedars, the decrease in light level is not very noticeable. Eventually, the cedars will die from lack of sunlight when the deciduous tree canopy completely closes.

The cedars will soon be reduced to skeletons taking up negligible space in the forest understory. Unfortunately, they are fairly rot resistant and will remain for many decades. The dead deciduous tree will fall and be long decomposed before the cedar begins to show its age. I enjoy the open winter woodland just as much as I do the closed summer conditions. I’m glad the seasons keep things cycling, so I don’t get tired of any one situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment