Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Cool Job

Kodi returned to daycare at the Yellow Dog's Barn yesterday after a 25-day hiatus. He was coming home with some bad report cards, so we decided to keep him home for a while. Kodi is spirited and has thrived spending all his time with me (my work has not thrived as well since Kodi looks for a daily outing that often stretches to hours). I quickly oblige at this time of year. October has been gorgeous.

Yesterday I was to be in the field all day and Kodi would have distracted me from the work at hand. When we arrived at the Yellow Dog, Kodi seemed excited to be back. JoAnne, one of the owners (who I think has a soft spot for Kodi), said she had visited my website in the intervening weeks and exclaimed that I had a cool job. Sometimes it takes someone else to help you recognize your good fortune. I thought about her comments all day as I walked the boundaries and interior of a local conservation area. I was monitoring a conservation easement to ensure that the boundaries, trails, and other features were in good shape.

The day started cool, in the 40s, under a clear sky, with a whisper of a breeze. The maples were simply stunning beneath the blue sky.

Even the dry, faded fronds of ferns were beautiful in form. 

When I walk about in the woods on such a work day, sometimes I follow trails, or bushwhack through the interior, or follow boundaries along stone walls. I carry a compass and a survey or similar property map, so I never get lost. I like to be off trail finding my way by watching the sun's path, or following the edge of a wetland or brook, or the ups and downs of the local topography. I stop to watch migrating birds -- warblers, kinglets, thrushes --  flit about in the understory picking off late season insects or fall seeds. The birds are quiet, sometimes emitting a soft, quick chip as they move about.

I watched a porcupine shuffle up a big hemlock tree, their favorite cover. Eight wood ducks took flight as I walked the shore of a slow meandering river. Sugar maples, draped in golden leaves, illuminated the stone wall beneath and a woodland trail that I traveled.

The trunks of trees are laid bare in the open understory. I felt the hard, muscle-like bark of American hornbeam (also called musclewood) and noted its striking textural difference with shagbark hickory elsewhere on the property.

American hornbeam or musclewood, Carpinus caroliniana

Shagbark hickory, Carya ovata

I guess I do have a pretty cool job. After I finished my walkabout of this property and absorbed the last of the late afternoon October sun, I packed up and headed to the Yellow Dog's Barn. JoAnne said Kodi had a pretty good day, still causing a little disturbance, but he can come back. So, I guess he had a pretty good day too.


  1. I think it's very cool to have a job that is out of the ordinary. This is especially true when you consider what most everyone else has to do to get by. You do have a cool job!

  2. And I feel especially fortunate during this fall season that has been so glorious. I get to be out wandering the woods when some people have to be out campaigning for political office!

  3. Hi Ellen,
    JoAnne here... funny to find myself in your blog! People tell me all the time that I've got the coolest job~ most of the time it is, but like all jobs, sometimes it takes a small reminder to get you back in the groove of it. And in my case, its not always about the dogs, it can be as simple as making a dog's mom have a great day ;)