Winter sunshine and mild temperatures are a lure I cannot resist.
This is especially so now that we have the many acres of woodland and fields to explore at the Pellyton farm.
Often I make a fire in the kitchen range, then go outside to greet the barn cats, check their feeders, putter about--while Jim collects his tools and begins the renovation tasks of the day.
On Friday, it was necessary to haul Charlie-Cat down from the barn rafters where he had apparently spent the night and part of the preceding day.
Although Charlie is rather witless, he is a sociable sort.
When I headed up the steep track that follows the curve of the ridge above the west side of the house, Charlie trotted behind me, full of anxious 'conversation.'
I was headed back to a stand of trees which Jim hadn't been able to identify--the bark pattern was different from any species he has encountered in the New England woods with which we are most familiar. In comparing on-line photos to what we had seen in our woods, he narrowed the choices to 'persimmon' or 'black gum.'
I decided that close-up photos of our trees would be helpful.
The track up the ridge is steep and deeply rutted. I don't make good time on the assent, stopping frequently to huff and puff--a good chance to look around and notice things.
The tree in the photo above is what I call a 'woodpecker tree'--one that is dead, in this case broken off at the top, and riddled with the drillings of various woodpeckers.
A close-up of the 'woodpecker tree.'
Not sure about the saplings surrounding it--the splotched markings of the bark suggest sycamore.
[I love that this new property is providing so many natural wonders to enjoy and to research.]
I pushed my way through a tangle of wild rose canes blocking the track and rounded the curve which brings us out at the top of the ridge near our boundary.
Charlie was untroubled by the obstacles which led me to detour--he rustled and bustled through heaps of dry leaves, paused to sniff at the base of trees; he kept up a commentary in his silly high-pitched voice.
There are perhaps half a dozen of these trees grouped fairly closely at the top of the ridge--several are mid-sized, others could be better described as saplings.
I took photos of the distinctive bark patterns.
One of the larger trees standing amongst oak and beech.
Note the rounded 'scales' of bark.
Beneath one of the trees was a heap of hickory shells and the hollowed husk of an acorn or two.
This area must provide rich feeding for animals in autumn and early winter.
Descending the track requires a slightly different sort of vigilance.
[Should I trip going UPHILL I would likely fall on my face in the leaves; if I fall over my clumsy feet or catch my boot in a hidden obstacle on the way DOWNHILL--perhaps I might roll along until I come up against a tree trunk or bump into a rock. I can even imagine free-falling right off the ridge--smack into the front porch of the house!]
I had, in fact, tripped over a fallen branch and in righting myself discovered this delicate collection of shell-like fungi on a twig.
The track leads out of the woods, inclining into a bit of scrubby pasture that borders the lane.
I called to Charlie who was still nosing about in the leaves, and we picked our way past a stand of wildflowers long gone to seed in the fence corner.
This one has the look of wild bergamot--something to check when new growth appears.
Queen Anne's lace--starry spikes.
Goldenrod and frost asters in this clump.
Back on the lane and nearly at the house.
I recall suddenly that I was meant to be preparing a meal as soon as the range top heated.
Charlie trundled along beside me, anxious now to go in the house.
Opening the door the aroma of food drifted out.
Jim, apparently despairing of cook and crew returning, stood over the stove, tending a variety of skillets. I felt a slight remorse as it was his birthday--and here he was, cooking his own [and my] lunch!
We stopped at the Mustard Seed store on the corner of the ridge road as we left for the day.
Our neighbor and an older man were seated at one of the tables.
After a few moments of conversation it occurred to me that they could likely identify our mystery trees. I fetched my camera and displayed my photos.
The immediate response was that we have a stand of persimmon trees, greatly beloved of every sort of wildlife in the area.
I have done some more research, learned that this is the American Persimmon.
It puts forth blossoms late in the spring--something to anticipate with delight.