Short Mountain

Hearing there were old trees there, last Saturday my hiking buddy and I went over to Short Mountain – a place I can see from the ridge above my house. It’s time for a closer look, I thought. Together we saw far more than we would’ve seen alone. I am indebted to L. especially for drawing my attention to the stump in the second photo and the pool in the last one.

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In the last week of January, white rocks half-hidden by the green of lichens.

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The side of the tree that faced the weather still raises iron fingers to the breeze.

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Where it ground against another rock during the last ice age, the ridgetop boulder still burns.

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In the exposed end of a limb ripped down by last January’s ice storm, a complete record of the tree’s efforts to hold on to it.

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At the base of a large white oak, a monstrous burl. Inside, maybe a twist of limbs; another, darker sky; the shadows of birds.

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Right where we join the trail, a black birch’s spreading bark splits the bright orange blaze in two. Which way should we go?

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Behind the leaf dam, slow lines of foam crossed by a single leaf. The mountain stream turns still, no sound of water.

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