February Soup & Walk by Julianna Pax

This was certainly a memorable walk in the woods. We had just survived record back to back snowfalls during the previous week and there was still at least a foot of snow on the ground in most places. Enough had melted that a crust of ice covered much of it and the temperature was a mild high 30’s when we started out. Everyone seemed in good physical shape for a 1 mile walk that I told them it would feel like 5 miles. The bridges especially were places where it was nice to step in previous footprints. The snow gave a lovely crunching sound as we walked along and this contrasted nicely with the silence as we walked on shredded bark where the snow had completely melted. Blockston Branch entertained us with flowing water and waterfall sounds during this silence.

At the first bridge we did see quite a few skunk cabbage sprouts and we look forward to the next few weeks when the blooms may be evident. The theme for the walk was searching for the green and with the snow cover it was a little more daunting. The holly trees had green leaves but with the storms many branches had broken and we marveled at the ability of trees to heal themselves and even put up a new leader for top growth. Many young saplings along the trail had their heads turned over and were trapped in the frozen snow like a croquet hoop. It will be interesting to see how well the plant hormones in these branches will allow them to return to their upright position.

Green was also spotted on the green stems of the hearts a bursting and greenbriar. The hearts a bursting were well browsed by the deer and may have more blooms and berries than usual this spring to compensate for this pruning.

Searching for the green moss, we were able to spot some very near the water’s edge and also on a large white oak at the turn in the path. This oak had much greenery as the sun was able to find it easily with the leaves absent from the canopy. Many young beech trees and ironwood still had their pale tan leaves and these were lovely as we looked around. Maybe these overwintering leaves help protect the newly emerging buds from browsing deer, squirrel and other four legged critters.

More greenery was to be found on the upland trail with red cedar and loblolly and Virginia pines. Sometimes our feet would go through the snow and sometime it even supported a step. We stopped often to look around and catch our breath. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and we marveled at the challenge that this snow presented and the people who have come often remarked that this walk was different.

We carefully made our way back to some wonderful hot spicy soup, green salad, dill rye bread with spinach spread and chocolate dessert. There was plenty of food and many went back for a second bowl of soup etc. For the nutrition talk we learned about the green in foods often masks other colors and therefore are some of the healthier vegetables. Mickey B had done a great job decorating the dining area with all our helpers. Mary Jo K and Nancy B helped lead the walks by leading the second half of the group. We were ably assisted in all this with Zaida W, Pat B, Michelle W, and Jenny H at the front desk. Desserts were made by Mary Jo and Nancy. There were 19 paid guests and several were new to S & W. Many were very enthusiastic with their praise for the event and have already signed up for more.

Thanks to all who helped including Robert J, Cathy E, Ginna T, and any others who took reservations etc. Julianna


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