A wild walk

19 06 2014

As you may know, I am helping out as a bunkhouse leader for Camp Aloha Friends this summer. (There’s still time to join in, and I can’t recommend it enough, if you could use a bit of creative and natural inspiration plus a lot of camaraderie!) One of the keystones of camp is developing the habit of walking and enjoying nature each day. I was actually able to get away by myself for a little while! I used the rare alone time as a chance to walk deep into the woods. I wanted to share with you a few of the surprising things I found on my very first walk.

As I was climbing a steep hill, I grabbed onto a tree trunk for stability and almost squished this little guy! He was about 3 inches long, and a bright vibrant green. Even though I am certain no one has been in that part of the woods in months or even years, he didn’t seem fazed by my stomping through (or his near death experience).

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At the bottom of the hill, I found a road I had never seen before, though I have occasionally seen headlights moving through the forest in that direction. This is the view from the middle of the road. Just gorgeous!

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There was a small forest fire nearby a few weeks ago. I decided to wander through the fire damaged area for the first time. The ground is charred and smells strongly of burning, but life is already beginning to return. Here you can see the fire damaged stump of a large fern. New shoots are beginning to unfurl into a beautiful new undergrowth.

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This seems to be the summer of deforestation in my neck of the woods. All around my walk I found hints of trees being cut down. From a bed of fresh wood chips to this perfect slice of timber, the trees are coming down. I hope they stop before all the local trees have been removed. So far, all the trees right around my house seems safe. I love how vivid the rings are on this cross section!

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It can be hard to see, but if you focus on the left side of the twig in the middle of this picture, you should be able to see one of the millions of very large spiders that live all around here. The stick was very helpful in leading the way through the many spider webs on my route. (As I said, not a path in sight!)

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These beautiful flowers — azaleas? — were going in a wild bunch right in the middle of a clump of tall wild grasses. I loved the unexpected pop of color in an otherwise green part of the world.

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Somebody’s babies waiting to grow up! A very sticky spit bubble found under a leaf.

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I had a fantastic time exploring all the untraveled woods around my house. I look forward to tromping through again! Today is rainy, but a rainy walk can be just as great, especially when it is warm.

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Searching for Spring

11 04 2014

Spring is slow to come to Northern Japan. Our cherry blossoms won’t arrive for about 2 more weeks. In America, they say that “March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Here, March is pretty miserable all month long, and April just might go out like a lamb. This week we have had a bit of sun, but also fierce winds and rain. The lamb is definitely not here yet.

Still, we have been inside for far too long. So today we ventured out around the neighborhood to search for signs of spring. We had to look pretty hard, but spring is out there. Here are a few glimpses of what we found.

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Tiny shoots of green grass are sprouting among the brown.

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The farmer is hard at work, and if you look close there are pops of green among the furrows.

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We found a flower! Can you spot it?

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Buds!

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I think these are related to cauliflower. Aren’t they cool looking?

B drew what we had discovered.

B drew what we had discovered.

The walk was cut short when it started to snow, but we will be back in a few days to check for more progress.