Over spring break, I spent a few days in upstate New York near Albany at a close friend’s house. On a sunny morning, accompanied by some friends, we strapped on snowshoes and headed out into the woods behind the property. I was able to step into a new place yet observe familiar features in an unfamiliar location. This filled me with great joy, knowing that my knowledge of natural landscapes extends across lakes, mountains, and valleys. These teachings can be practiced in other places besides Centennial Woods.
The site I picked across the lake in Albany was quite different from my place in Centennial. For one, I noticed there was much more snow at this new place. I think this is due to a combination of the recent nor’easter and the difference in trees. This place was much less dense and contained more underbrush, shorter trunks, and dead stands–a much younger forest. The Hemlock Forest in Centennial was almost all old growth, which could block a lot of snow from accumulating on the ground. Also, this new spot has less foot traffic, allowing me to break trail and gave the opportunity to discover some interesting tracks! I have attached below some photos of what I believe to be deer tracks. In addition to tracks, I was able to identify Red and Sugar Maples as well as White Birches by just their bark and twigs (see photos below). Perhaps the feature that jumped out to me the most about this place was not what I saw, but what I heard. There wasn’t a silent second. Flocks of birds chirped and called out during my walk in these woods. When I looked up, I saw dozens of small black birds flying around from tree to tree. This was a pleasant surprise as my place in Centennial does not attract a lot of bird activity.
It was nice to get away for spring break, and it was nice to experience a new ecosystem that contained new elements mixed with some old. But at the end of the day, I’m happy to be back near the cozy familiarity of my Hemlock Forest.