Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Forests of West Virginia

Gone is the sweet smell of September’s fallen leaves, replaced with the astringent odour of decay.  The loud crunching beneath hiking boots has changed to a soft, squishy noise as we sink into thick layers of leaves melted by the rains and cooler temperatures.  Acorn, walnut and beechnut shells have cracked open and many have produced fresh pale roots that dig down deep, already preparing for spring.

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A few oak trees cling on to their dry red leaves where all other trees are bare.  Although the leaves underfoot were brown, as the sun shone across them, the diversity of colour was beautiful.

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My friend Wendy captured a similar mood in her painting of maple leaves.  Wendy’s works depict fleeting moments and masterfully capture light and colour.  Check out her work at Witzend Studio,

website: 1-wendy-storey.artistwebsites.com   (painting title “November Tears”)

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Hikers stifle Tarzan yells passing the many hallmark vines so common in these woods.  Even the berries and grapes are gone with the exception of a few that the mice and chipmunks have not yet collected for their winter larders.

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Within Stonewall State Park, the boats are dry docked for winter but a few kayaker and fisher folk cross the lake each day.  We wake each morning to the sound of rifle shots.  Hunting is a popular hobby in the area and the park has its own shooting range.  Looking through local papers, I see a fall fair advertised featuring the typical corn maize, largest pumpkins competition and medal winning pies and preserves.  However, tha most fall events feature hunting and fishing and guns.  All types of jerky are a best seller next to camo and outdoor gear.  Some of the workshops enlighten folks about the latest fish bait, how to build your own hunting blind and the best way to skin a squirrel.

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There are two small cemeteries in the park that we explored.   Many small American flags were placed among the graves on Veterans Day.  We also checked out a log cabin that is under renovation.   Most interesting, were the scraps of old newspapers tacked to the walls, likely used as insulation in the past.  I can visualize, enlarged versions of these framed as artwork.

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Just down the hill from our motorhome was a wooden platform that campers use to pitch tents on in the summer.  It became our private deck where we had tea or drinks in the late afternoon.  From there we read our books, watched the sun on the water, squirrels and deer in the woods.  A few holly trees provided greenery as well as a subtle reminder of the upcoming Christmas season.  With very few other campers in the park, we enjoyed a quiet and relaxing week.  Dixie is back to herself, enjoying long walks and swimming again. 

We will hit the road tomorrow, heading to Gaffney, South Carolina for our annual oil change and engine checkup.

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