Monday, May 24, 2021

Take the Time…

 

      There’s getting to be less and less of the old timers around, at least from my prospective. When you find one and he is willing to talk, take the time to listen. They have lived in a world that is very different than the one we live in now, and one you will never experience.
      I’ve only known one old-time hardcore bird hunter really well. I never used to miss a chance to stop by his home and listen to his stories about birds. There were tales of where to find them or when to find them. And of course dogs, there were always a stories about a dogs. And guns. He was an avid Ithaca fan, owned a 20, 16, and 12 all with the same stock dimensions.
      He always asked my opinion about the upcoming season and the weather. New Englanders always ask about the weather. Dogs were always welcome and he would take the time it rub an ear or pat a head. He worked in the woods for a logging company, which added another dimension to his tales. Eventually all of the country he worked in and hunted was laid out in my head.
      There’s been other old timers, too. A character from Fort Kent, Maine who worked in the woods since his thirteenth birthday. He was still working and sixty-five when I met him. He told how there were 18 siblings in his family and when the oldest got married there were twenty-one at the dinner table. He started young picking potatoes and seemed to always have a bag of them in his truck.
      And the sea captain that ran a boat yard down on Cape Cod, who sailed his own yawl down to Miami in 1950, jumped aboard a schooner heading to Cuba, then sailed back to Pocasset, Massachusetts to start a boat yard he would run nearly the rest of his life. I remember him standing like a sea captain, with hands clasped behind his back, looking at the Pocasset River flow by. He lived to be one hundred years old.
      Their stories were fascinating. When you find and old timer who will talk about times long gone by, listen to the details and ask yourself if you could do the things that they did. It’s a world we will never see.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Snow

    February usually means snow. By the time the month starts the hillsides are covered with a couple of feet beneath the hardwoods. Under the boughs of the softwoods there is always noticeably less. Temperatures are cold, often going for days without a temperature as high as freezing and many nights dipping well below zero.
    This February has been no different. There certainly is two feet of snow in the woods, but this year there is no base underneath. The snow is fluff all the way to the ground. This makes excellent roosting snow for ruffed grouse and tough snowshoeing for humans.
    On cold nights ruffed grouse will dive into the snow to take advantage of the snow’s thermal protection. Snow has an R value of about 1, which is nearly the same as wood. Twelve inches of snow has the same insulating value as a two by four wall filled with fiberglass insulation.
    I know of people who have been out snowshoeing and a grouse suddenly burst from the snow and startled everybody. There are stories of grouse diving into the snow and breaking their necks on hidden stumps or logs, but I have never seen that. I’m sure a predator or scavenger would clean up any evidence as the snow melted come spring.
    By the end of February the days are noticeably longer, which is a welcome change. March will bring on bigger changes.   

Ruffed grouse snow roost.
An abandoned ruffed grouse snow roost.