A stubborn coating of ice greeted the South Shore of Boston this morning, but it was nothing like the freeze that had been put onto the Indian Head River. Mr. Luddam - made famous for carrying Governor John Winthrop on his back across the river at this point in the 1630s - would have had no problem repeating his task today. He just would have to avoid the one long crack that stretched from the Hanover to the Pembroke side.
Despite the ice, the temps had risen from yesterday. Birdlife was everywhere: chickadees, kinglets, titmice, woodpeckers, jays and more. The problem was that the dominant trees here, the stately white pines, are so tall that when the birds perch on their tops, especially against the slate-colored sky, it was hard to determine what they were. A good birder's ear is necessary in these woods.
As I walked, I realized that I was on an old railroad bed. There were no ties, no rails, just that uniform width and straight-ahead feel of the trail. It could only be one line, the Hanover Branch of the Old Coloy Railroad. When I reached the far end of the path, I found that to be exactly the case, according to the pictures mounted in the trailhead kiosk.
With the river frozen, my concentration was on the land. I found a tree punctuating a question, and another one uprooted immediately adjacent to the trail. If anybody ever wanted to study the underside of a tree's roots, here was the chance. Another pine was lain across the width of the trail, turning around the snowmobile tracks that had accompanied me to that point.
The most curious aspect of this day was the rocky outcrops off to the landward side of the trail. The rocks themselves were not the oddity. The trees growing out of them were. Close examination showed that given even the slightest opening, the thinnest crack in the rockface, seed, soil, water and sun conspired to fight their way through the surroundings. Once outside of the channels, the trees sprouted to their regular size, with the base acting as a root, reaching back to the soil several feet below.
And this was just one side of the Indian Head River. The Pembroke side hosts another park to be explored on another day.
Time: 42 minutes
Other stuff I did today: First day back to work since my son was born; gave a lecture on puffins at a senior center; helped place a new bird seed shed; wrote more in the latest manuscript.
Stranger hellos: None! I had the woods to myself.
New wildlife for 2009: Nothing, for the second day in a row.