The cycle of death and rebirth

After months of bitter cold and snowstorms, last Friday the ground finally thawed enough for a stroll into the woods. It was still dark as I set out.

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As the sun rose, the light felt more like fall than spring.

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And other than a few tufts of moss, everything still seemed dormant.

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But thanks to the barren branches I was able to spot something unusual at the bottom of the ravine.

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I have no idea who built it, or how long it had been there.

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It measured about eight feet across, with an opening facing upstream. My theory is that it’s designed to stop trash from flowing into the holding pond downstream.

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Maybe because subconsciously I knew it was Good Friday, it reminded me of the Crown of Thorns.

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But, regardless of its purpose, isn’t it a beautiful bit of weaving and engineering?

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Unfortunately my stroll took a darker turn as I left the woods and found another curiosity among the barren branches. It looked like someone had field-dressed this squirrel (taking the front legs in the process) and hung the pelt up to dry.

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It was unsettling to wonder who would do such a thing just a few steps from my home.

Well … that’s the death part. And now comes the rebirth!

After a warm and sunny Saturday, by Easter morning flowers were poking up everywhere. It really does feel like a resurrection each spring when the first tiny things emerge from the ground.

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And as it happened, I also had plans to visit my friend Pam in Frontenac. There were signs of rebirth there, too, as a tiny purple finch had returned to nest in Pam’s Christmas wreath.

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On our stroll to the lake we spotted more wee flowers. The Dutchmen’s breeches were a favorite of her mom’s, Pam said.

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But I’m more partial to the bloodroots, which remind me of showy divas wrapped in silky green bathrobes.

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The river was still at flood stage, though you could tell it had receded a bit (because the previous high-water mark was outlined in driftwood and logs).

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We also saw a small flock of migrating white pelicans — alas, my photos were rubbish — and a pair of bald eagles. One sat in a tree looking regal while its mate ripped a fish to shreds.

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And of course, no trip to Frontenac is complete without a stroll past Locust Lodge, which continues to slowly rot. But even here there was evidence of rebirth, as someone had recently installed a new gate. Voilà … instant curb appeal!

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No trip to Frontenac is complete without a walk through the old cemetery, either — and here too we found rebirth, as volunteers have been painstakingly restoring the old tombstones.

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Now it’s Monday morning and it’s pitch-black outside as the first thunderstorm of the season rolls through. It’s all right, though: April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes. It’s all part of the cycle of death and rebirth …

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    • My friend Pam told me that Locust Lodge was built in the 1850s by one of the original settlers in the area, Evert Westervelt. Despite the “lodge” name it was always a private home and traded hands a couple of times, most recently to the Antiblion (or Antiblian, in some records) family. When the parents passed away in the 1990s they left the property to their only daughter Margaret, but she never took much of an interest in it (and still owns it). In spite of being listed on the National Registry of Historic Places — and in spite of the locals’ efforts to save it — I am sorry to say that it’s virtually in a state of ruin now. What a pity; it must have been magnificent in its day, don’t you think?

    • Indeed, Tom! You taught me that lesson through your life’s example: Keep growing always, and always seek renewal. Thank you for that …

  1. How you see things through your lens is really something. The Twighenge (snicker) looks like a painstaking work of many days. First collecting who knows how many twigs, then cleverly and artfully weaving them. Really fantastic. I’m afraid I had to whiz by the squirrel and refrained from reading more than a couple of words. I carry these things on the brain for far too long .
    Your natural flowers seem so abundant. A walk through our forest might yield moss and mushrooms but rarely much more.
    It’s a crying shame that Locust Lodge has been neglected to the point of no return. It certainly has curb appeal, with or without the new gate (that’s an odd bit). Why wouldn’t the daughter sell it years ago if she had no interest? I suppose there’s still furniture in there and stuff. Well, nice that the mice have had a posh place to live all these years 😀 I picture them being all cozy in a tiny hole with remnants of silk drapes in china teacups for beds. See, it’s not all bad xK 😀

    • Only a true nature lover would think of the mice, all cozy amid the remnants of the silk drapes, dear Boomdee. I simply ADORE that image! I do think there’s still some furniture in there, though, because during our visit last year I saw some newspapers and lightbulbs stacked on a table by one of the windows. But it really is a mystery to the whole town why the daughter didn’t sell it years ago. Perhaps there are too many memories there and she just can’t bear the thought …

      As for the flowers, well, I must confess a couple of those are cultivated. It’s not unheard of for folks here to plant things in their gardens that then spread to the woods, and vice-versa. In fact, Pam showed me a plot in the cemetery where someone planted day lilies, which are now wandering into the nearby forest. That’s probably how we ended up with buckthorn, a scourge that is threatening many of our native plants. Sigh.

      And how exciting that you might find moss and mushrooms in YOUR forests! Our mushroom season won’t start for another month, but already I am dying with anticipation to see if I find any morels this year. (A girl could have worse hobbies, right? Ha ha.)

      Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by and for bringing a huge smile with your lovely comments. xx

      • Mwah! Guess what came in the mail yesterday ?!! I’ve a whole menagerie to play with and they’re adorable. Thank you so so much H 😀 I love the card too 😀 sending email xo K

        • My goodness … did the postal service WALK all the way from Minnesota to your door? Sorry it took so long, lovely Miss Boomdee! But glad the little menagerie arrived safely just the same. xoxo!

          • Please no appology is at all necessary. I’m totally tickled with my new critters.

            I’ve already invested in a little thing with a story in mind 😀 ❤ This is the norm for Canadian Postal Service I'm afraid. It's very short hours and Monday to Friday only, no holidays!! Alys is always surprised how long it takes. I've mailed things within the US to other US addresses and they arrive so quick. Alys gets postal deliveries on the weekend too ! It's privatized in Canada and it's all about profits, service is not in the equation 😦 xox ❤ You're a doll to send a gift my way… will still be receiving Canadian mail, hopefully not too long from now xo

          • I didn’t know that about the Canadian post, Boomdee. What a pity! But I’m glad the little critters reached you just the same, in spite of the privatized-so-we-only-deliver-on-very-specific-terms service. xoxo!

          • And PS: Thank you in advance for whatever you may have put in the mail to me! I know it will be beautiful and creative and very sweet, no matter what it is. More xoxoxoxo!!

    • Aww, Lara … thank you so much! I really was celebrating yesterday when I actually got too hot during our hike. It’s been a long time coming. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Marcus. The Easter connection occurred to me only in hindsight, but it did seem like an appropriate theme to link these images. I’m so honored you liked them!

  2. Such gorgeous photos of spring’s rebirth! Your posts always delight me, and this one is especially apt for Easter. But I do need to check, up and out before sunrise? I am not a morning person–that opening just seemed so crazy! HA. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh my yes, Patti: Up and out before sunrise. I’ve been a morning person my whole life, and that’s when the light is good. But on the weekends sometimes I go back to bed after I’ve had my fill of the outdoors. 🙂 And thank you so much for your kind words! I’m beaming from ear to ear at the thought of delighting you. xx

    • Thank you, Fiona! I was surprised by how close both eagles let me get. Usually they are much more skittish. I suppose it helps to be distracted by a juicy fish, ha ha.

    • Hmmm. I hadn’t thought of that! The holding pond is full of ducks, actually — though there are houses just beyond it. Hopefully no one is even thinking of hunting there. Well … something to think about as i stay upstream i guess! Thank you for the intriguing theory, and for your kind words.

  3. I had to wait until I could savour these photos on the bigger screen. That light on the leaf! Those precious little eggs! Love your lens on the awakening world. Merci Heide!

    • And thank YOU for making my day with your kind words! You’ve inspired me to grab my camera and get out there for another photo walk before work. Merci!

    • Not nearly as picturesque as your walks are, Michael — but nature in any form is still worth observing. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Not quite. It has been gloomy since we came back from our extended trip to Australia (first blog post was published today). It is cold and rainy most of the time and we are very much looking forward to getting nice weather…

        • Boo! I’m so sorry to hear it’s been dreary since your return. (But isn’t it always, after a trip to Australia?!) I missed your post somehow, so I’m eager to read all about it. Welcome home!

  4. Such a long long winter here! I’ve been enjoying the better weather but am not thrilled about tomorrow’s forecast. I guess it makes us appreciate the sunny days even more! 🙂

    • Isn’t it a relief that the snow never materialized? (Dare I actually write the words “I think we’re over the hump now?”) But absolutely, yes, it does make us appreciate the warm, sunny days even more. Hope they’re not too far off now.

  5. Love this! I especially love the flower pictures, the pops of bright color on an otherwise neutral background. I’ve also always had a fascination with cemeteries and old houses. You are a great photographer!

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! I really appreciate your kind words — and it makes my day to know you enjoyed this post.

    • Thank you for making my day with your very kind comment! Your photography is lovely too, and I love the concept behind your blog. Very much look forward to joining you and K2 on your future adventures!

  6. Beautiful photos, I especially like the bald eagle shot ~ but still your opening shots of the early morning light brings perhaps the best feeling. A changing of the season is always exciting and to add the calm and beauty of early morning is something special and you’ve captured this feeling with this post.

    • Thank you so much, Dalo! I’m honored you like my photos and am very pleased they conveyed the special atmosphere of these early spring mornings. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. You’ve captured such wonderful images of your time outdoors. The two nests, one tiny, one huge, are a testament to spring’s rebirth, year after year, one bird, one plant, one organism at a time. My visits to your blog are always a pleasure. I’m hoping life is treating you well.

    • Oh, Alys … I am so happy my posts bring a little extra happiness to your day. Just as your lovely comments always make my heart smile! I love your observation that spring isn’t so much a season as it is one plant, one bird, one tiny organism waking up in its due time. How marvelous. Hope all is well in your corner of the world too! Sorry I’ve been a bit of a stranger here, but I’ll catch up with you soon. xoxo

      • I hope that all is well with you and yours. We’re enjoying some unexpected rain today, so rare for a May in San Jose. We have another storm on Sunday. The garden will be once again refreshed, thought the cats aren’t too happy about the current situation. Sending love your way. xo

        • Hello dear Alys,
          How lovely to hear from you, and also that you’re getting some rain in your corner of the world. I hope that will bode well for fewer fires this summer (even if the cats are temporarily put out). All is indeed well here — “here” being France, as i’m traveling with my sister and her partner for a few days. We’ve had some unexpected adventures on the road, all of which will make great stories someday. 🙂 Take good care, enjoy the rain, and more to come soon! xoxo

  8. I was reminded of you when I saw your comment on Pierre’s blog….I think I’ve been here before, maybe years ago. What a great post this is -I am a Bloodroot lover too, and the little irises, how perfect. Not to mention the twighenge mystery in the woods. Your theory sounds good to me. Happy spring!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words — and especially for introducing me to your blog through your kind comment! You are an extraordinary naturalist and a gifted photographer, and as your newest subscriber I very much look forward to following your future adventures. Happy spring to you too, and thank you again!

  9. Hello Heide.

    How wonderful post presenting how mother nature awakes after winter. Many of Your photos remind me about our country house (1993-2012) surrounding. My favorite photo is the fourth from the top – a real treasure. We have had cold and warm days. Exceptional was that on April 27, we had one summer day! Then the temperature climbed up to 22 Celsius. Thank You sharing Your photos with us.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • We’ve been riding the weather roller-coaster here too, Matti! Like you in Finland, we’ve had one summer day (on which everyone cams scurrying out of their houses like ants) but now it’s back to being unseasonably chilly and rainy. But at least the flowers are coming out in numbers, so it gives me hope for warmer, sunny days ahead. I’m so glad this post brought back happy memories for you and thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful day as well!

    • Yay! I’m glad that I too can now click the “like” button to “like” your “like,” Yann. 🙂 And yes indeed, it was wonderful to see you in Paris. Thank you again for carving time out of your busy schedule.

    • Thank you kindly, Otto! I’m taking a bit of an unintentional sabbatical (due to extraordinary work obligations) but your kind words are encouraging me to come back here and check in with my blog friends. Thank you!

  10. Dropping in to Blogland for the first time in (literally?) *years*, the only place I wanted to visit was yours, of course! I’m so happy to see you’ve posted a bit this year, even if Easter proved a hiatus for you as it did for me. (Only I think my hiatus is terminal.) Anyhoo, love your photo narrative as always. The twigs! Like an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture. The wee nest – squeee! How delightful! And I have an idea about the poor squirrel. Despite looking like an extra from ‘Predator’ (yeah, I used to be big on Arnie movies) I think it might *not* be proof of a human psychopath in your neighbourhood. In Scotland, I would say that it had fallen victim to a goshawk, the psychopaths of the bird world. They are more than capable of leaving an eviscerated fur coat draped casually on a branch. I’ll just leave you with that happy thought. 😉

    • My dear, lovely DB!! What a treat it was to return here after my unintentionally long hiatus and find your kind comment — though I fear my hiatus may be terminal too. We shall see. I did love your Andy Goldsworthy invocation; I knew Twighenge reminded me of something, but I couldn’t put a name to it. And of course you’re spot-on. (Side note: I ambled into the woods last weekend — now that the mad hornets have finally gone to sleep — and was delighted to find that Twighenge still stands.) As for that squirrel: It’s good to know it may have been the work of a hawk, because the idea of a person leaving such a scene was too much. I will thus venture out with a bit more confidence, though perhaps now keeping a warier eye on the sky. The rest I shall save for email. xoxo!

    • Hello Yann! I’m sorry I’ve been such a stranger. Rewriting that 1,400-page website I told you about in May took everything out of me, I’m afraid. But other than being a bit overworked all is well, thank you. I hope you and yours had a lovely Christmas and that 2020 is off to a great start. I wish you every happiness and much success in the year ahead!

        • Fingers crossed for a return visit, Yann. Sadly, I fear they’ll become less frequent because my parents are needing more help lately. But I’ll certainly drop you a note if I should find myself crossing the Atlantic (as one does, ha ha). And now, I’m off to visit your blog for inspiration and all the latest news. 🙂

    • Why thank you, kind sir! I was surprised by how easy it was to switch to a new theme. (If only giving my wardrobe a makeover were so easy, ha ha.) Happy new year to you!

    • Hey there, Jim! How lovely to hear from you. I’m sorry about the looong delay in replying to your kind note — I’ve been a stranger in these parts, thanks to a perfect storm of family commitments and work obligations. But all is well! And you? I’ll pop by to see what you’ve been up to, with hopes all is well with you too. Thank you again for checking in; I’ve missed you.

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