Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Walks of Winter

Laurie and Judy are right, you know; walking in winter is lovely. (Casting oneself headlong down mountains, on the other hand - hmm, maybe not.)

I've taken a number of walks these past few weekends, since the weather is cooperating. Sometimes I've walked with friends, sometimes alone. Sometimes I take a camera, sometimes I don't. All of the walks have been nearby, but places I've never been in the winter.
Officially, I suppose I'm walking for the exercise or the company, but I really think I'm walking just to see, to observe, to find out.

Here are a few random photos of what I've seen, because you all seem to enjoy them.


Cass Meadows in Athol is the floodplain of the Millers and Tully Rivers at their confluence, just a couple blocks from the center of town. Now largely owned by the town and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, it supports quite a variety of wildlife, even in winter. I saw vole tracks...


And what might be shrew tracks...


And what are likely deermouse tracks. I have no idea why this mouse or mice was so interested in this post.


These sumac seedheads reminded me of Margene's new shawl, with the colors reversed.


The Tully is the smaller river, here...


It flows into the larger Millers...


I'll bring you back to the Millers again this summer; it's a great place to find cool dragonflies. Right now, though, maybe not. (Well, actually, any dragonflies in the river must be pretty cool right now, come to think of it.)

Over at the Quabbin Reservoir, on another walk, I found this stone structure in the woods near the reservoir's edge. I thought it was an old root cellar, but my friend Dave Small, who works at the Quabbin, said no, it was a former tomb, used for storing the bodies of people who died in winter and couldn't be buried till spring.


Created in the 1930s by damming two rivers, the Quabbin is the drinking water supply for Boston and many of the cities and towns around Boston. Everyone who lived in the four towns where the reservoir was planned had to move out to make way - can you imagine? The reservoir itself covers 39 square miles and more than 100,000 acres of upland are protected around the water to preserve its quality. All the graveyards of the four towns were dug up and all 6,000 bodies buried in a new cemetery near the main Quabbin dam. Thus, the empty tomb I found.

A powerline crosses near the tomb; atop one of the supports was this large nest - a raven, I thought, and Dave confirmed it. No birds in sight, but maybe this spring I'll see them.


A view from the northern shore of the Quabbin. This shows only a small part of the whole reservoir.


I didn't dare walk out on the ice (for one thing, it's illegal to do so), so you may not be able to tell this is a deer carcass. Those are ribs sticking up on the right. Deer sometimes venture out on the ice and slip and break a leg; the coyotes finish them off. Or sometimes the coyotes chase a deer out onto the ice. Those giant regal scavengers the bald eagles will often show up at a deer carcass. We saw no tracks by this one, but it looked quite old; maybe it has snowed since the deer died.


The beavers and pileated woodpeckers are still alive and working away at the trees of this forest.



The yellow-bellied sapsucker is long gone from this series of holes in an oak tree, but maybe I'll be lucky enough to see it opening them up again this spring.


Real spring is still a couple of months off, but as long as it's sunny and not too windy on the weekends, I expect I'll keep enjoying my walks in winter.


Bezzie said...

Nice walk! Those ravens and their nesting in power lines. Eee...makes me nervous.

judy said...

Great walk! I love Quabbin. Haven't walked there in years.

cyndy said...

Nice to see the photos of the confluence...have to think very warm thoughts to imagine rivers in summertime.

Whatever the reason you are walking, it is enjoyable to see your posts!

Erica said...

Beautiful, beautiful walks. Thanks again for sharing them!

Laurie said...

That was so much fun. I love seeing it through your eyes. And getting the background information.

You could snowshoe. Or XC. Neither involve mountains. Or hurling oneself anywhere.

knithound brooklyn said...

Hi. Your sumac photo reminded me of this:

My friend is a painter.

Lovely walk...