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The Horizontals of Winter

Spruces frosted, roofs white, the horizontals stage themselves as they never can in spring and summer. Striated banks that rise from the river exhibit the perspective forced upon them by the ages, layer upon layer of sediment lifted and thrust into position by the churnings of the earth. Gentle angles of leafless trees hold the pure white snow, their crooked…

marbling

Rocks Have Attitude

They tilt, in one direction or another. On College Hill in Easton, they dip to the southeast. This is one clue to decoding the riddle of the land we occupy for the tiny speck of time that is the present. We are within the puzzle, and typically we walk around oblivious of the signs of the millions of life forms…

spicebush buds

Spicebush and Virginia Bluebells

It is not spring yet. I know this because the spicebush buds are still tight little balls. Any day now they will erupt in a chartreuse blush that will spread itself liberally throughout the forests along the country roads I travel. Also, if it were spring, the flattened evergreen ferns on the east-facing inclines along the Delaware River would be…

Lehigh canal

Remnants of the Past: the Lehigh Canal

The pillar formations of the stacked rock walls of the Lehigh Canal stand solidly upright after 185 years. About half of that time they were unmaintained and unused. The pillar and gap construction pattern probably contributed to the stability, by reducing the pressure of the forest against the walls. But what use could the gaps have served? From old photos…

Insects lay eggs in great quantities, just to make sure some survive

The Forest in Winter

A piece of advice: If you’re looking for exercise, don’t go on a walk with botanists. This curious subset of humanity simply cannot keep up a steady pace. And no wonder! All that looking up at the tree buds and down at the leaf litter, examining egg clusters and bud scars, sniffing broken branches, and peering through magnifiers tends to…