Growing up, I totally took the woods behind my house for granted. I stomped in the stream in any weather, ran there when I was mad or overwhelmed, took my dog running around the boulders and through the oaks and pines. At a guess, I probably spent fifteen to twenty hours a week out in those woods.
It's only in the last year or so that Luke and Owen have been exploring at all behind our house - in fact, it's only today that I begin to know how incredibly, stupidly lucky we are to live with woods at our back.
Here is what Owen's looking at:
It is called Five Dragon Path Tree, on account of there are five huge trees growing together. It is just one of many landmarks the boys have named in the woods behind our house.
We saw wonders large and small today, on my first hike - and the boys' longest so far - into Dragon Woods.
Luke's standing beside Knucker Stream - named after the Knucker Dragon, of course.
The moss growing on the water, in a lovely patch of sunlight in these still woods, fascinated all of us.
It was quiet during the day, but the evidence of night-time mayhem was everywhere:
We're thinking those are some kind of cat, possibly a fisher cat - if anyone knows for sure, or knows of a good field guide to help us identify them, please say so!
Here is what we think that creature pursued:
(The rabbit, not the human.) I felt a bit like Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, searching for clues to the whereabouts of his hobbit friends when he came upon the footprints of a fierce fight, and using the prints to figure out what had happened. Not that I could draw any conclusions, mind, with my extreme tracking inexperience. But a girl can dream, can't she?
We wandered farther into Dragon Woods than ever before; everyone was happy to return to the part of the woods that we know best. It's marked, somewhat incongrously, by Pride Rock:
Pride Rock, named for the seat of lion power in The Lion King, brings you up high enough so that you can survey the whole of Dragon Woods.
I think Luke and Owen really do feel like they rule here, in our lovely little corner.
Just as I once ruled in the woods behind my home.