A Walk in Nearby Woods

I last posted about the treehouse we built for my daughter in the redwoods near our house. It’s a lovely spot and, in addition to being a great place to relax beneath the trees, one of its bonuses is that, once you’re in it, the surrounding forest opens up to you. Our family recently took a little walk through it, lured by the beauty of the shafts of sunlight that beamed through the tree branches and by the call of owls — perhaps the same ones who spent part of last summer living in a tree close to our house.

We walked on the forest floor, which was soft with needles, leaves, mud and duff. We came upon these whimsical Trilliums (also called Wake Robins), an early spring wildflower that proliferates in the shade.

Forget-me-nots are another sweet shade-loving flower. Our property will be blanketed with them soon.

Three-cornered leeks (wild onions) have a lovely bell-shaped flower and a distinctly sharp spring smell.

We started to see owl droppings, and looked up to find our friends. We spotted their nest, high up in the redwoods. (We believe there to be at least one pair of Northern Spotted Owls, because we saw a male and a female last summer, and heard them now.) On the ground were owl pellets, the remains of small animals and plant material that the owls had eaten. We identified mouse bones. (I promise I will go up again and get a better picture!)

We looked up to see the owls’ nest.

While looking for the nest, we saw a basket high up in the trees. This is a very isolated spot and we were mystified as to how it could have gotten there. A person could have placed it there, but that’s not likely — it’s more than 50 feet up in a very isolated spot on private property. We wondered if the basket would be light enough for birds to have carried up, in the hopes of making a nest out of it.

After a while, the land opened up as we reached another path, which was sunnier.

Pretty yellow Goldfields were sprinkled along the path.

We saw Miner’s Lettuce, which of course we imagined generations of people before us — Native Americans, trailblazers, miners — eating. (We later learned that Miner’s Lettuce is appropriately named, and edible, but I remain very hesitant about grazing for food along the road.)

We circled around and came home, knowing that, with the weather turning warmer, and our newfound knowledge of the woods and path by our house, we would be back often.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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13 responses to “A Walk in Nearby Woods

  1. Namaste,
    great post.
    wanted to offer a thought about the basket :-)

    on our little farm, when we first planted trees here, ab0ut 30 years ago, my children developed a little interactivity with them as both they and the trees grew.

    Once the trees were starting to fork and gain height my children, then adolescents, would annually place older Easter baskets, always natural ones, in the forks of the trees in hopes of providing nesting sites. This continued until they went on to University education.

    Occasionally one would offer a home for the migratory birds returning here for the spring time to hatch out their babies.

    Over the years, my children became adults in their early 30’s, Hurricanes and the occasional severe thunderstorms have removed all but an occasional trace of the baskets.

    This spring my grand daughter, (5), will be getting lifted up to place her Easter basket as offering to the birds and continuing a tradition spontaneously created so many years ago by the kindness of children.

    Interaction with the rhythms of the seasons has helped mold my children into committed environmentalists and activists working to protect what remains of the truly rural environment that nourished them and they are paying it forward.

    My heart often takes refuge in these events and they are always a source of Hope and Peace in my soul.

    Congratulations on having perhaps encountered a random act of kindness from days gone by.

    Peace be with you and your family.

    Michael Sykes

  2. Seeing these photos remind me so much of tramping around in the redwoods when I was in college at Humboldt State U. I love the mountains and big open spaces of Montana, but there is a big place in my heart for the redwoods and northern California. Thanks for sharing the photos!

  3. Thank you, so much, Michael and Mel, for visiting and leaving your beautiful thoughts.

    Michael, that is such a moving and generous post. Of course! It makes perfect sense that someone would have left a basket a long time ago. It’s so high up and pretty wind-battered — after reading your lovely thought, my daughter and I discussed how long ago someone may have left a basket.

    I have a neighbor in her 80s who raised her children here. 50 or so years ago, our house wasn’t here. Horses and cows grazed locally, and kids played on the land where the basket is. I’m going to ask my neighbor, who happens to be quite whimsical, if such an act might ring a bell.

    You are so right that the heart takes refuge in random acts of kindness. You provided one by sharing your wisdom and observation. Thank you.

    And, Mel, your love for the Northern CA redwoods is always apparent. I just think we have to get you out here for a visit. Redwood forests are indeed special, unique places. I grew up by (and enjoyed) the beach, but have always been drawn to forests. They offer so much mystery, solitude — something at once ancient and deep, but not without whimsical forms in which to imagine a fairy glade. I suppose they’re full of possibility and discovery, much like the basket in the trees, which may have gone unseen for decades.

  4. Your kind words are a deeply appreciated, it is a blessing to be able to share insight into wonder. You might look for a little pop up book called “how to find faeries” it offers wonderful information about how to spot faeries in all environments, especially forest and woodlands. I gave it this past Christmas to all the children i know. Full of wonder and beautifully crafted. I got it at a Barnes & Nobles outlet nearby our farm.
    Peace and light,

  5. Wow, Suz, what a lovely world you have access to right in your own backyard! You’ve got me longing for summer strolls through the woods surrounding our family cabin in Yosemite. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi Debi! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I know your family cabin in Yosemite means a lot to you (and I was just thinking today about how special that spot is.) Have you been able to get there lately and share it with your boys?

  7. This is a lovely post Suz and reminds me of our woods next to our back garden. Towering Ponderosa trees, home to so many squirrels, birds and a stunning pair of Owls that I once was lucky enough to stumble upon. The woods have become a sanctuary for my daughter Jasmine, helping her to relax after a stressful day at High school and the pressures of teenage life.
    As for the mystery of the basket-I think one of the Butterfly Girls may have placed the handmade basket high in the trees filled to the brim with the most delicious wild berries, for all the forest creatures to enjoy.Knowing once all the fruit had been eaten, the basket would become a home to one of the Little Humbugs feathered friends.
    Wishing you many more wonderful enchanting experiences in the woods with your family.

  8. Suz, with our oldest now in school, our trips to Yosemite must wait until summer. We’re already planning at least one 10-day trip right after he gets out at the end of June. I’m already dreaming of it! Thanks for asking!

  9. Hi Marghanita! Your woods sound heavenly, perfect for dreaming and magic. And, yes, a sanctuary in the woods is lovely at any age but might be particularly important for a teen. You may be right about the Butterfly Girls placing the basket in the trees. Thank you for that image. I wish you continued woods enchantment, as well!

    And, Debi, June’s not too far away now. That will be a wonderful time to enjoy Yosemite. I’m sure you will!

  10. Suz,
    Love your pictures of those gorgeous redwood trees! What a wonderful place to live – and so handy for nature walks! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Gayle! Great to see you here. I’m so glad you enjoyed a little walk in the redwoods. Country Camps looks very special, too. I look forward to learning more about it.

  11. I am not familiar with your blog so I’m not sure how much time you spend posting about good books, but your walk in the woods made me think of Arbor Day Square by Kathryn Galbraith, in which a pioneer town plants trees over generations to build and beautify their community. I highly recommend it. I loved your later post about children and toys. As a granny I am very familiar with the appeal of boxes.

    • Hi Pat! I’m delighted you found me and visited. Arbor Day sounds like just my kind of book, and I appreciate you recommending it. Thanks, also, for weighing in about box play. Your blog is lovely, and I’m glad to have found it as well. I hope to “see” you again soon.

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