Devil’s Den, Wilton Connecticut

The site of interest:

Hello all! This week while I was back in Connecticut, I took a few nature walks. My favorite is at Devil’s Den Preserve, a spot I used to hike at very frequently with my dad.

A description of the Devil’s Den, in the style of Leopold

The forest is absolutely still, the skeletons of the trees are stark and unwavering in the late November chill. Oak, Maple and Beech are the trees that have settled here, making up the majority of the stand. Dry upland soil gives way to a deceptively wet swamp area, after several feet of decent. It is covered in leaves and there are shallow frozen waters beneath them. The frozen water ribbons past several overturned trees, dead trunks dark, decayed and waterlogged. The presence of beech is even more so here.The rocks sport a thick green moss on their faces, which is soft to the touch.The ground is thick with leaves, creating a uniform blanket of caramel brown that crunches underfoot. This is November in Connecticut. An unsuspecting visitor might accidentally plunge a foot into half a foot of icy water, cleverly disguised beneath the leaves. The wildlife knows this, squirrels nimbly skip from rock to log without touching down on suspicious leaf piles. A light wind makes the few remaining leaves quiver on the branches they still cling to. Autumn is coming to a close and soon snow will cover everything, and the leaves will lose their crispness. The air is full of scent, the richness of decomposing tree matter and as I inhale I wonder how long the trees will remain there until the join the soil entirely.

A comparison of Devil’s Den with Centennial Woods, in the style of Holland

As I have witnessed at Centennial Woods in Vermont, I watch a squirrel leaps down the remaining few feet of a towering oak in Connecticut at the Devil’s Den. He quivers at the base of the tree, slightly lighter grey belly moving inward and outward, paws pressed together. The gray squirrel prefers to live in a hardwood forest although I see them at the primarily evergreen site at Centennial as well, subsisting on acorns, beechnuts, butternuts, berries, maple seeds and more. They are agile, and skilled at jumping and climbing trees, scampering from branch to branch. Overhead, a red tailed hawk circles, a sight I wouldn’t be able to see through the dense canopy of evergreen at Centennial Woods. The red tailed hawk has a fanned tail and a wingspan of about 4 feet. They soar with scarcely any wing movement for moments on end. I also see white-tailed deer, cautious and easily startled when they catch sight of a stranger sitting between two red maples. I have never seen a deer in Vermont, perhaps it is the prevalence of hunting? Or the proximity to campus? The question fascinates me because my new spot is half a mile to Rt 7, much closer to dangers and disturbances.


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