Sultry Morning in the Forest

By Boak Wiesner

Escaping the heat of an early summer morning, I slip into the deep woods of the Wildflower Garden. The dense foliage lets through only a little light which dapples the forest floor. The sun peeps through the leaves overhead.

DSC_0344Here amongst the handful of Hemlocks, I’m reminded of how much this little glen reminds me of the coves in the Smokies. There is a marked contrast between the light green of this year’s new growth and the much darker green of the that of the past. A shaft of sunlight makes the effect even more apparent. Aldo Leopold refers to this growth at the end of the branches the “candle” – how apt!

DSC_0355The fact that I have to look closely to see a gang of seven turkeys picking their way through the woods near me after hearing them for a time well demonstrates how the dappled floor with dead leaf litter can let even big animals be pretty camouflaged.

DSC_0370Some leaves of Swamp White Oak stop me in my tracks – it’s the fact that they’re all chowed down! What makes them so delectable to caterpillars compared to all the other trees around here, I wonder. No other species of tree is so significantly consumed. Could it be that it’s not native, really, around here so the local denizens are going after the novel taste?

DSC_0395A Gray Squirrel, what animal so well defines a forest around here, takes pause and, in the next instant, chases after another.  It’s summer – time to play!

DSC_0407Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer

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