To my husband's frustration, when he exclaims, "Look!", "Look out!", "Duck!", or "Slow down!", I usually say, "Huh?" I think a touch of fight or flight comes on. Instead of seeing more clearly, my eyes blur and I get ready to... stand still. Of course, 'fight or flight' doesn't take animals like woodcocks and grouses into consideration--animals that do best by moving slowly or not at all.
"Make no mistake," my kung fu teacher says, waving his hand, "soft is powerful. Hard is not always more powerful. Soft is more powerful than hard." Sifu demonstrates the first form of Ngo Cho Kun, sam chien, with incredible power and tension. "The young ones do like this."
Again he demonstrates sam chien, this time alternating powerful strikes and relaxed parries and counters. "When you become older, more experienced, you do like this."
He demonstrates sam chien one final time with no force. He begins to add other strikes and blocks. "Like the white crane. When you become senior tis is how you maintain your power. This is very powerful."
"Look for the weak point. Do not punch your opponent in the chest. If he is very strong, he will not feel anything."
"Use this," he makes a phoenix fist, "to the temple. Very painful. He will get dizzy and fall down. Or, to here," he points to where his jaw meets his face. "You cannot body-build this."
"if you are not rooted, he will knock you down. It is very easy."
A classmate and I practice attack, defense, and counter moves. We're polite to each other. I'm the only woman in the class. "Move! You have to move when you attack. No, like this." Sifu, a slight man, takes monstrous steps across the floor. He gently but firmly places his outer blades of his hands on my shoulder joints. He suddenly snaps his hands forward and strides. I step back quickly, following his movement, lest I trip over my feet.
"Add power at the last moment. Very powerful." He says, "You push. Then you throw away. Like a rubber band."
My son, 5 1/2 months, seems to be in the midst of a growth spurt...restless nighttime sleep with many of wake ups, short daytime naps, increased desire to be close and held, and bursts of newborn baby crying jags that make my husband and I nostalgic.
"Ohhhh, the newborn cry," we sigh as though caressing a Valentine from long ago--a soft, velveteen heart glued to a doily, signed in ink by someone whose sharp-edges have been softened by an aged pencil eraser.
Time and distance, time and distance makes all things better.
We rambled, despite poor sleep, far this weekend. "Just a short walk up the High Road to the transect, then right back," we agreed. Jared carried a short but awkward fence to place around Canada lilies that are overbrowsed (never flowering) by deer. I carried our son and an overstuffed backpack.
I've seen one Canada lily flower in the Sourlands since moving here about 6 years ago. We returned the the site many times and never found it again. We've since honed our plant identification skills in general and specifically for deer ravaged nubs, twigs, and dwarfed herbs. I can say that, yes, there are many Canada lilies in rich, moist woodlands near my home. Most have just one or two leaves, so stressed by deer browse.
Those of us who bite our fingernails can relate to the lilies--they try to grow, but then nip, nip...grow, nip, nip...grow, nip, gr, nip, nip...g, nip. Not much left to nip, but a misshapen shadow.
Driven by the misshapen shadows and memory of a single orange bloom in a tangle of multiflora rose, we walked on, photographing, observing. Of course, we rambled the long way home.
This moth(?) chased away a swallowtail 3x its size.
Wild geranium, beautiful and so named "wild" rather than "false" geranium, I wonder
Sarsparilla - a tremendous component of the herb layer in portions of the forest. A friend that I know well from the Catskills and rarely from the Sourlands. A treat to see it in bloom.
Perfoliate bellwort is often browsed at home, but we saw more robust colonies in bloom...browsed there, too, unfortunately
Along the powerline right of way we found:
Pinxter bloom azalea in flower. In the shaded edge with pale petals.
In the sun with darker pink petals.
The delicate branching pattern of our azalea.
Jared read that in the 1950s pinxter was the 3rd most common shrub at Cushetunk. Though looking hard, We saw no pinxters blooming in the forest. Under the canopy, the pinxter drops down to ground cover size. In the image above it is dwarfed by lowbush blueberry...in the forest, where forest nesting birds shrubs to raise young...
Too many deer.
The azalea can grow faster than the deer can browse it when receives extra shot of sun. Pinxter can grow 10' tall, maybe more, and in the sun at Cushetunk it was no more the 6.5' tall. More typically it was hip high.
We've been seeing a lot of these "evictions" in the snow the past couple of weeks. Is it flying squirrels doing house cleaning? Woodpecker territorial wars? Carnivorous tree raids?
The tracks led from the base of this black oak (showing basal scars from an old logging operation?)
We followed the tracks through the deep snow, north towards the pipeline.
I hoped we might be able to follow the tracks to the raccoon itself. When I saw this gouged tuliptree in the distance, I had a feeling we might be in luck.