Lunar Camel Co. field guide to trees, chapter 2

I’ve blogged about trees kind of a lot. Some of my favorite specimens are here, here and here. My friend Jim asked if I’d seen any good ones lately and I said yes of course, the woods are full of them, and it is easier than ever to spot vague obscenities in the off-season, when there isn’t so much distracting greenery about.

treehole with stuff in it

We don’t have nearly enough trees in Manhattan so I’m thinking about doing something more public with my collection of them.

trees of Harriman State Park, figure B

I don’t mind showing them to you like this but they’d be much better big, 2′ by 3′ prints or somesuch.

trees of Harriman State Park, figure A

I’m recovering from surgery at the moment but looking forward to adding to my tree collection soon. It’s been a mild winter in my part of the world, so I haven’t really had to take a break from my observational field trips. I keep thinking every hike will be my last for the year, but there’s always another. I thought a November hike in CT would surely be my last until spring. The air smelled like snow, and with the dressing rooms closed for the season the little beach on the lake by the park’s entrance looked lonelier than ever.

Killingworth-20111119-00825

The trees looked lonely too, or maybe just self-conscious about their nudity.

the trees have eyes

Killingworth-20111119-00873

It was the time of year when allegedly pumpkin-flavored donuts come out. They seemed like an ideal post-hike snack but the actual flavor was closer to orange-colored holiday.

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This famous beardo ice-scraping system I admired at a local discount store probably would’ve made a better souvenir. As Mr. Lunar Camel Co. noted, “it looks like he has the ice under control.”

famous beardo heated ice scraping system

There were strangely compelling breakfast systems on offer too. Plastic crap, yes, but if bears could take crap like this back to their caves and have it there when they awaken from hibernation, they probably would. I think that is the idea, to settle in for a very long nap, a nap so long your hands will tingle with pins and needles for days afterward, leaving you unable to prepare breakfast without these contraptions.

outlet shopping breakfast section

Later in the season, when I went for a hike at Harriman State Park, I found an ideal hibernation spot, a small cave protected by icicles.

icicles of Harriman State Park, figure D

There’s all sorts of exciting, twinkly bits like this in the woods in the winter. You just have to wear more layers to go look at it. Here is something I’d never seen before, because — I am guessing — it only happens at very particular temperatures, when the ground is a certain temperature in relation to the air: spindly strands of ice poking out of the dirt. They’re strong enough that I could easily pluck a few out and set them on a nearby rock for looking-at with minimal breakage.

weird ice

mystery ice specimen

I’m going to read up on weird things like this until I can get out into the woods again. In my cart right now:

Winter Tree Finder

Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter by May T. Watts and Tom Watts. I like leafsnap but one needs a book for leafless moments.

Forest Forensics

Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels. I always want to know what I’m looking at so I’m excited about this.

Gathering Moss

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Not winter-specific; I just really like mosses.

Do you go hiking in the winter or do you prefer to look at trees on the internet until it’s warmer outside? Recommend any books or unusually cozy socks for me?

3 responses to “Lunar Camel Co. field guide to trees, chapter 2

  1. Great post today. I enjoy reading it very much today. You have a wonderful blog here. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. At first glance I read the title of the first book in your cart as ‘Weird tree finder’. But evidently you’ve found plenty already. I’m never far from ‘Trees of Britain & Europe’ and the rather antiquated illustrations in ‘A field guide to the British countryside’ but they’ll be of limited use in your neck of the woods. Perhaps instead I should point you in the direction of the latest edition of Five Dials magazine (http://fivedials.com/fivedials), which is called ‘Why Willows Weep and Other Tales From The Forest Floor’.

    • Haha, if there was a Weird Tree Finder I would definitely be in the target market for it! Thank you for Five Dials, it looks great. Hopefully I will have some use for the books you mention one day sooner rather than later — I’ve never had a chance to explore England other than London but I do want to, and having become a devoted reader of Caught by the River over the past year or so, I frequently find myself wanting to plan a vacation with lots and lots of walks and pubs.

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