Aside from a cursory dusting this week, we remain snowless here in southern Rhode Island. It’s so close to Christmas, and yet, if you explore the woods, it could be November. The trees stand stoically in their duff of fallen leaves, accepting whatever the weather gives them. Without the green of the understory or the leafy canopy, their bark and branches draw my eye. It’s always a pleasure to explore the forest now, without the bugs and the heat and the ticks. Sometimes, secrets are revealed. Other times, I simply appreciate the “bones” of the trees.
We are so vigilant about raking the leaves in our yards. In the forest, leaves form the “duff” of the forest floor, which in turn nourishes the trees:
In arboriculture, v-shaped crotches are considered bad, because if one side splits off from the trunk, it takes half the tree with it. In the forest, there are no such conventions:
I was drawn closer to this tree because of its deeply grooved and appealing bark. This is what I saw when I drew closer. When I touched it, it felt surprisingly smooth and warm, despite the cold temperature:
With Christmas nearly upon us, the trees are patiently waiting for their annual blanket of white. So am I.
I wish you, dear readers, the very best of holidays, and, where geographically appropriate, snow.