“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Night Forest



It's dark out there.  I went to bed at 9:00, got up at midnight, went to bed again at 1:00, and here I am about 2:30 back up again.  It's clearly going to be one of those nights.

Here's a strange thing.  Outside right now, there are no cicadas singing. No animal or insect noises at all. That's normal for winter, but for August?  There should be a perfect cacophony  of noise coming from the forest.  All of the barn cats are on the porch, that's unusual too.  The dogs are subdued as well. Maybe there's a thunderstorm coming.

  I was looking through my little book that I copy poems into, and  I found this one by C. Angelus. Surely fits the atmosphere tonight.

Night Forest
C. Angelus

The once welcoming forest is no more when night comes
The forest casts away her friendliness
And instead clothes herself in darkness and fear
A night forest is a dark and forbidding place
Our eyes unable to see through the thick veil of dark
Only feeling the movements happening just outside our field of vision
The chirping of the birds ominous
The rustling of wind malicious
The snapping of the twigs startling
Even the smallest of noises scare us
The once familiar trail is no more
The once familiar trees are all lost
Whoever enters the night forest will have to endure
The grim atmosphere that she poses
Beware of the night forest and her thick veils of darkness
It will not be the forest that welcomed you earlier




Today I walked down the mountain to the mail box. I took some pictures along the way, so I could show people how thick the forest is along the trail.  Once you leave the meadow, the trees lock branches over the trail down the mountain, and you're walking through a green tunnel.  I did get some pictures, but it was so dark in there the flash came on every time I took one. Some of the pictures didn't come out well as a consequence.  There was not a breath of air in those woods, and the humidity was very high. When people say they could "cut the air with a knife" that's the kind of environment they are talking about.




Although the sun was shining, no direct sunlight was reaching the forest floor here. There's a kind of perpetual gloom under the forest canopy along the trail in the spring and summer, when the trees are all leafed out.



There's a bit of an opening in the canopy at this particular place on the way down the mountain. It's pretty steep here, if you try to get off the trail and walk up.  I used to do that, years ago.  I'd just head up the mountain at different spots to see what I could find. It's in the "too hard" category now.




This was taken at one of those dark, gloomy spots that the original settlers tried to avoid.  There are places in the mountains where there's an uncomfortable aura .  I can't explain it logically, but there's a reason that the Appalachian mountains have place names like "Booger Hollow",  "Haint's Bend",  "Old Nick's look out" and the like. Over the years I've seen some strange things in the forest. 

   There's a good , common place reason for avoiding the darker parts of the woods and that's the bears. At this time of year, bears are numerous as they search for berry bushes and acorns.  Walking up on one is a bad idea. Without the dogs, I doubt I'd walk down the mountain at all during this part of the year.



This is the foot of the mountain, the gate is just a few hundred feet on down.  It starts to open up and be less confined here. The trees aren't so close, there is some breeze.  The humidity is still bad because there's a creek just to the left of the picture which acts as a natural humidifier.  I've often though I should copy the sign on the haunted forest in the Wizard of Oz, which said "I'd turn back if I were you."


This is the county road.  In summer it isn't too bad. In winter, it becomes one big mud slick. The gravel just sinks into the mud and it never dries out.  Then, when it freezes, the road is covered with sheet ice.  In winter the direct sunlight never reaches here, it's blocked by the mountains, so once the ice covers it over, it stays that way unless we have a couple of days of 40 degrees or above weather.


On the way back, you go along the trail back up the mountain.  It's steep and a tough hike.  Finally you get to this point, and there's the sunlight ahead, and the meadow.  It's always good to get back. 


26 comments:

  1. Oooooh-eeee! Dunno if I have enough adventure left in me to venture into the darker spots either. Maybe when I was younger and more stupid - but now, I'm wiser and more cautious. The thought of meeting a bear would certainly curtail what is left of my adventurous side ;)

    Thanks - lovely pics and fascinating to see. Now, I know a little bit more of where you are.

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    1. I'd be anxious about living way out where you do, although I don't know if there are any lions left there now, or other dangerous beasts. Or pythons! I loathe snakes.

      It's strange, but the same places the Cherokee avoided, so did the Scotch Irish who settled here in the mid 1700's. It may be that some places just have an unnerving atmosphere, or maybe my ancestors picked up the places that had bad reputations with the Indians and fit them into their own folklore. I know I don't much like to linger around those spots when I'm out in the woods.

      When my son and I used to explore the woods off deep into the forest where people never go because there are no roads, we did see some very strange sights. Hovering blue lights that moved through the woods when there was no wind, for instance. It's all well and good to have some forest ranger explain to you that was methane gas forced out of the forest floor vegetation by rain, but out in the woods on a dark, dreary day it's an altogether different experience. No wonder Southern momma's still quiet bad children at night with the admonition "the booger man will get you."

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  2. I love the sign, I think it would be perfect.

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    1. I really might do that. Hope all is well with you and yours.

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  3. Another great post Harry.. You get so used to sounds of the forest on a quite night its kind of creepy for sure.

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    1. Makes you wonder what all the animals and insects know, that you don't know.

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  4. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    Cool road...

    One of thease days I'm gonna get one of them digital camera things and take some pictures of some of the semi-deserted beaches down here and send you a few shots I think.
    I don't have a cell phone so I cant take any photo's. I had a problem with some Aliens (from outer space, not Mexico) follow me the last time I drove through Roswell, New Mexico so I think cell phones are magnets for space aliens. They can lock onto you and take control of you mind and make you a Progressive Democrat (kinda like Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

    I had a problem once being followed (space aliens again) outside of Marfa, Texas.

    There called Marfa lights.

    Marfa lights are like swamp gas, balls of light, space alien mind control devices from the planet Booger. They are remotely piloted drones, controlled by "Boogermen" 20 trillion light years away.

    Type in Marfa lights and pictures of al gore will pop up (he's a Boogerman secret agent)

    back to photo's, I miss the old cameras. If you want to send someone pic's. You had to mail them the pic's and then those pic's were good forever and did not get lost when a hard drive crashes.

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    1. I didn't take many pictures with the old style cameras. A few, but not a lot.

      I'd like to see pictures of the beaches there. Is there a web camera anywhere around you I could access on line?

      The marfa lights sound interesting. I'll have to look those up.

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  5. There are places like that in the pine woods of northern MN. Once in a great while I would find myself in one of those spots while out blueberry picking. Even though I was more brave (or perhaps more foolish) then, I tended to keep on going and not linger. There are brown bears in those woods, and I have seen several, but luckily I never had to share a blueberry patch with one. Years ago when I lived there, I would hear what sounded like a scream in the night. My Dad always swore it was the scream of a black panther, for at one time there were panthers in those woods. Maybe still are.

    Thanks for the photos. I love to see what other parts of the country look like, especially when they are so beautiful.

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    1. Vicki, for many, many years the State Department of Natural Resources here said there were no cougars left in the mountains. People saw them, but they were always told it was a dog, or some other nonsensical thing.Then a few years back, a DNR game trail camera caught photos of a cougar (or panther as they are called here, same as your area) walking down the trail. One of the pictures was on the front of the fish and game regulations brochure the next year.

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  6. Harry,

    It's so beautiful in and around the Appalachian mountains. Where I come from the upper peninsula of Michigan (a town bordering Canada) we have all kinds of bears. They would come right up to the house. When walking as kids we would take two rocks and hit them together and make noise, the bears would usually be scared off with the noise. Unless of course you had baby bears playing, then you had better get the heck out of the way because momma bear was going to come after you.

    It has to be a rain storm coming your way, we just had a nice rain storm the night before last and it was headed east.

    Love poem and the sign!

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    1. My dogs are essential for me when I go down the old forest service roads, or when we walk to the water fall. The dogs range ahead and to the sides, and I know something is out there long before I get to it. Besides the bears, I am always ancy about wild hogs. They like to sleep in the underbrush during the day and startling them can have negative consequences.

      I think Brown bears are much bigger than our black bears. Perhaps more aggressive as well.

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  7. Thanks for the tour, it's really amazing. I love the forest, the woods, meadows, etc. It seems like you have a great combination.

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    1. If only I could drive to the coast in less than six hours, it would be perfect. Well, I'd like to have a desert six hours away also, now that I think of it.

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  8. "Today I walked down the mountain to the mail box. "

    Have you made up your "Get to/from the mailbox bag" yet?

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    1. I have a rawhide bag I carry some essential items in.

      Don't leave home without it!

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  9. Harry,
    Have you ever read any of the Missing 411 books. My parents love to read them. They are really hard to put down. But after reading them, I think I would be afraid to go for a walk/ hike down your road.

    OK what you need is a drone to fly your mail to you, then you won't have to walk down that scary drive ; )

    Ya know something weird is going on with the weather. All our bucks started coming into rut in June! Their breeding season is supposed to be controlled by day length (short days). So why everyone's goats started coming into season in the longest days of the year is really weird. I just wonder what this means we are in for?......

    Kimberly

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    1. Kimberly, I've never heard of the Missing 411 books, but I will look them up on line and see if I can get a digital edition of the first one. Sounds like an interesting series.

      If I had a drone, it would have to land in the middle of the county road to get the mail,and I am sure the old guy down there would think it was the Russians or Space Aliens and blast it ! ;-)

      I know the acorns are coming off the trees here very early. We are having lots of Woolly Booger caterpillars, and they are way early as well. I'm not sure what is going on with the weather but something has been for the last two years now, at least.

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    2. Harry, here is a review of one of the books https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13563254-missing-411
      I don't think that it is sold in electronic version, but I might be wrong. But its worth it. It's one of those "here read this" books that you let someone barrow before they go berry picking. hahahaha.
      Kimberly

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    3. I might break down and buy a print edition. Sounds like a good read.

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  10. I wonder what was going on that there were little to no sounds outside?

    The other night it was just me and the boys. My husband had to go into work. I kept hearing noises. I don't get freaked out easily, but I was kind of freaked out. Then it dawned on me what it was. Our ice maker on our refrigerator gets stuck. Then ice melts, and drops through. It had me going.

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    1. Everyone knows the noises of their home at night. After it's quiet and all are in bed, even the smallest, most elusive sound gets your attention. I'm glad it was just the ice maker. My ferrets often wake me up at night but I have learned what their claws sound like on the wood floors and I just go back to sleep.

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  11. I've gotten "Spooked" a few times in the past deer hunting in N. GA. It makes the hair on your neck stand up for sure! The sign is a great idea, and should serve as "fair warning" for strangers!
    My daughter sent me a "Bear Bell" from Alaska. It clips on your belt and makes all kind of noise. I was kidding her in that it might just sound like the dinner bell to a southern bear!

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  12. I think we are all a bit leery when we get in the deep forest. It's probably an atavistic instinct related to the time when being in a forest meant being hunted instead of hunting.
    I hope the bear bell gives the Bruins time to move on rather than time to lay an ambush. :-)

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  13. I suspect those 'dead zones' in the forest are areas where geography, topography, and meteorology, have combined to create pockets of no noise, no wind, still air, etc, etc. After tromping through a vibrant and noisy woods to suddenly land in a pocket of quiet and stillness can be pretty disturbing. The Japanese have an entire forest like that and it's a magnet for suicides.

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    1. Either that, or there really are evil spirits.

      I saw a Nat Geo show on that forest. Full of dead peoples shoes.

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