It's getting cold. I like it better warm. I'm posting this now
because I was too lazy to do it then
to remind me (and you, if you'd like) of warm weather.
In August I hit the ole' refresh button as I like to say. This involved taking Jax and some supplies and heading into deep woods. I have a map of where we went but it's unfinished... Maybe I'll add it in a later edit.
On the way to the forest, I saw a turtle on the road. I usually stop and help them out unless road conditions, time and/or traffic don't allow it.
Jax was pretty interested in the turtle but I asked him to leave the turtle be. I can't say the turtle wasn't traumatized by Jax (he has a pretty loud bark) but better traumatized than flattened on the pavement.
I've never been entirely sure whether these are muscadines or scuppernongs... And I really don't care. They are a welcome treat while deep in the woods. Just make sure you spit out the seeds or a plant will grow in your stomach. This has not been scientifically validated.
Can't keep Jax out of the water.
These, unlike the muscadines, are not edible. This is unfotunate because there were a million of these berries. I think the fact that they're inedible may play a part in their enormous quantity. Meaning if they were good to eat, something would have eaten them already... The bushes don't have thorns like blackberry plants.
All day the sun was fighting to show his face. This made little difference to me. The shade is cooler and my possessions and I were about 90% rain proof.
When you take off through woods at random, you never know when you might run into a deer stand. It wasn't deer season when I was here (and this stand is in a state of disrepair) so I wasn't too concerned for my (or Jax's) safety. Best to know before you head out what's in season.
This beetle seemed to be sapping the moisture out of this tree. I couldn't help but wonder how many beetles it would take to drain the entire tree.
I can't tell you how close I came to stepping on this snake. It isn't venomous, but they don't exactly brush their teeth. I didn't linger here long. Jax has a tendency to ... investigate
smaller animals. In a sometimes brutal manner. For his safety and the snake's, we moved on.
Something about this scene stood out to me. It was the closest thing to a path I had yet run across.
I apologize for this pic. I just found it funny. Bottom left is where Jax peed to claim this as his own. What was he claiming? Look in the top right. Those aren't raisinets.
It was in this moment that I realized Jax is sort of my muse. I've been in this area before and have never seen that chimney. This day, I just happened to be following Jax where he might lead. There's a story behind a stone chimney in the middle of the woods. And if there isn't, there will be.
I'd run across this cabin before. It seems long forgotten... But I took the spiderweb as a sign to bypass further exploration.
Not far from the cabin was a dirt road. Needless to say, there was no traffic here but me and Jax.
The road branched and Jax took the path less traveled. He's learned well.
The second muscadine vine I found. These normally grow far higher in the trees and when they do grow within reach, either deer have eaten the good ones already or they aren't yet ripe.
That said, finding this many was a rarity.
At last, the river.
This is the Broad River... Considering that I'm standing in the middle of it for this picture, you can tell it is not the Deep River.
Here's my try at Les Stroud photography (set the camera on a rock and wander off artfully). Overrated if you ask me. I like how my pockets have collected river water.
These guys were all over the place on the river. Especially as the sun came out. I could picture me cooking these fellers and eating them in a squeeze. Or fishing with them. *Or placing them back carefully into the water for all you PETA enthusiasts*
I couldn't help but join Jax, swimming in the water. And those aren't all
my clothes abandoned on that rock.
A couple of freshwater molluscs. Molluscs... that's a weird word.
Jax fishes. I kid you not. It isn't very often that he actually catches something... But practice makes perfect.
He was going for an epic pose... Got distracted.
I can think of no clever caption here... I realize I take lots of pics of Jax. Ignore at your leisure.
Would like to have gone under the bridge then up through the woods. But I saw a couple and their dogs out on the rocks below the bridge. I don't have Jax's leash (not that I would ever put it on him out in the wild) so we detoured to the right, up the rocks. He's a nice dog but he has the tendency to intimidate others dogs... and their owners. It's the pitbull in him.
Road crossing is tricky with a dog with no leash. It's all about the virtual leash (dog treats). Luckily Jax learned at a young age to listen to me.
Ran across another path / road. And it led to...
... Someone's office. It baffles me what kind of stuff you run across in the depths of the woods.
This reminded me of an excerpt from "Darke and the Parandrus
". Maybe the excerpt was inspired by this or something similar.
pg 115 "Darke cried out.
The castoroccs below him had stood to their hind feet and were heaving
against his tree with frighteningly efficient rhythm. The entire tree swayed like wheat in a
breeze. Aedron looked to Tahkaan. Maybe he'll put that bow to use! Tahkaan, however, dangled by his arms as his
tree was rocked about by the creatures. Growls and yells had succumbed to leaves rustling and branches cracking as the castoroccs
focused all their energy on toppling the trees.
The earth bulged beneath Darke’s tree as roots loosened and snapped free. There was no longer any mystery as to what
had felled the other trees in the forest."
This, too, reminds me of an excerpt from "Darke and the Parandrus
"... And this exact forest is what inspired the pine forest in the book.
pg 187 "Brandal
and Aedron made slow progress. Their
surroundings changed gradually and they found themselves in a dense forest of
pines. The floor was covered in a thick
bed of straw. Here and there, patches of
fern lay about like green blankets.
Thin, grabby fingers of pine trees and dried out bushes caught their
cloaks as they walked. Though Brandal
did his best to cut a trail through the dense areas with his axe, he and Aedron
were constantly nicked and scratched.
Occasionally their path was blocked by great thickets of briars with
dark purple leaves, and they had to backtrack to maneuver around. No sound of bird or critter existed. The bare pine trunks seemed to
hold secrets and spy on them as they passed.
Neither had spoken for a while when a shuffling of dried straw sounded
nearby. Brandal stopped dead, motioning
for Aedron to do the same. The sound
ceased. Nothing moved except shadows as
thin rays of afternoon sun pierced the gently swaying canopy. The air was still and heavy.
“I don’t like this, Brandal,” Aedron
Through the pine forest and on top of a hill, looking back toward the river.
I found one more muscadine vine before leaving the woods. This one had the greatest score of all. I brought some home to my wife. She was not enthused. (Reminiscent of the scene in The Two Towers when Gollum runs to Frodo with dead rabbits in his mouth and Frodo is disgusted)
Hopefully you can see why I'm inspired by the woods. I strongly recommend anyone seeking an imaginative boost to simply leave what you're used to and get out somewhere. I do it as often as possible (which isn't as often as I'd like).
I'll follow trails if I have to but I would much rather forge my own path.