Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rattlesnake Knob and Beyond

A superb day for any outdoor activity, whether work or play. I took part in a bit of both. By the end of the day here at Winterberry Farm, the perennial beds were raked, the leaves and branches picked up, and the rhubarb patch was weeded. In between these projects, Kodi and I hiked up to Rattlesnake Knob, a small outcrop with a nice view over to Long Mountain. This is where I learned to love nature as a kid.

 A view of Long Mountain from Rattlesnake Knob in Amherst, Massachusetts

This trail is just a mile from Winterberry Farm, the family homestead. It winds through a beautiful hardwood forest of oak and hickory and beech.

In early spring, before leaf-out, you can see through to the forest floor from a nice perch on Rattlesnake Knob.

A small, clear brook runs alongside a portion of the trail that leads to Rattlesnake Knob. Skunk cabbage were emerging in the moist soils along the water's edge. This plant, which seems to have few admirers because of its skunky smell, is a favorite spring sighting of mine. It is quite beautiful, despite its odor, which is only noticeable if the plant is crushed.

Most of the trail follows a gentle grade before it turns sharply right and climbs steeply up the side of Rattlesnake Knob. The steeper section requires an occasional pause to catch one's breathe. Or you can make an excuse to stop and look at woodland wildflowers, and there is a beauty peeking out of the leaf litter this time of year: round-lobed hepatica.

Later in the day, my parents, Kodi, and I went for another walk. This one along a rail trail that passes by a large wetland. Beaver are active in this wetland and turtles too. Not only did I see my first painted turtle of the year sunning itself, I counted 45 turtles lying about on logs and hummocks in about a 1/4 mile stretch of wetland!

There are 20 18 painted turtles just in this photo 
(click to enlarge)

I wrote a few days ago that the pace of spring emergence is quickening. Today was one of the those days, where something new appeared no matter where I looked or listened. A chorus of spring peepers fills the evening air as Kodi and I step outside for a final walk about the yard before calling it a night. Tomorrow will surely bring something new, but we might just go back to see the turtles too.

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