Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Trails, Briars, and Hangnails

I drove along this mountain trail which had been a logging road a year ago. Brush and briars are beginning to grow along the trail.

The farther I go, the thicker it gets!

Fortunately for me I remembered to put my cutlass into the bed of the mule. I purchased this "cane-cutting knife" in Guyana, S. America back in the late 1960's. It has served me well both there, in Africa, and now here in the Cherokee Forest!

I would have had to turn around just half-way through - but my trusty cutlass helped me hack this fallen log in two so that I could drive the mule over it!

Somewhere in between fighting with the briars and cutting the fallen log in two pieces, I broke a fingernail. As you can see by enlarging the picture here...the hands also became very rough and dry.

I stayed out in the forest as long as I dared, heading for home just as the sun put a glorious cap onto the end of my day!

What a WONDERFUL day here in the Cherokee Forest in East Tennessee! I arrived at the cabin about 11:00a.m. to the music of a beautiful spring-like day - temperature about 60 - with partly cloudy skies. I could hear the creek gurgling gently in the background, with crows cawing overhead. The sight of the beautiful red cardinal feeding along the lower limbs of brush near the back porch steps seemed to make my steps lighter. Instead of the usual routine of going inside and opening all doors and windows to allow things to air out, I decided it was a perfect time to just sit in the sun on the back porch (which faces south) and soak some rays while sipping a cup of black coffee. I had made this pot of brew at home and poured it into my steel thermos bottle in anticipation of a back country trail-ride on the Kawasaki Mule, so did not have to enter the kitchen to turn on the stove. While sipping the last few drops from my cup, my neighbor from down the creek stopped by to return the pick/mattock he had borrowed from my tools in order to free himself and his car from the grip of that last deep snow. We have a rule between my neighbor and I: He can borrow anything that's outside as long as he doesn't forget where it belongs and will return it as soon as he is finished with it. I think the snow was finished at least a week ago but he had either forgotten the rule or had been too pre-occupied with other things to bring the tool home earlier. ☻

I finally grabbed the trusty little .22 caliber rifle which I had brought along just in case I spotted a squirrel during the ride (we can harvest squirrels until February 28th) and headed out slowly to explore the country. I drove along slowly, dodging mud-puddles in the road, looking for deer, hog, bear, or any game tracks or other signs of the presence of animals available to harvest. After about 30 minutes I spotted hickory nuts covering the ground. In my heart I knew that the squirrels ought to frequently be here, eating gourmet meals - but the evidence of chewed hickory nuts was largely missing. Just as I was about to give up on the idea, one of the squirrels saw me first. I saw him - but it was too late. He quickly scampered across the forest floor and out of sight. Maybe next time!