The Perfect Spot
It’s not as easy to find a good spot to sit in the woods as one might think. A good place would be sunny in cool weather and shady when it’s hot. Sometimes I like wide open spaces with sweeping views of sky and fields. At other times, I prefer to keep my view – and thoughts – close, so I look for a spot where the forest is thick. I usually look for a large rock to sit on. It should be large enough to have a place to set down my binoculars and coffee cup and I usually look for one that is elevated above the surrounding forest so I can hope to see passing wildlife. Oh, and no ATVs.
Sunday morning it was sunny and warm for early February, so I took the touring bike and rode up
I didn’t take any compass bearings, so my casual wanderings took me near that neighborhood and I saw plenty of beer cans and old mattresses that seemed to indicate the sanctuary people were right. The map confirmed that I had missed both trail and hill, so I adjusted course and headed deeper into the woods.
As I came over a rise I heard a motorized vehicle. It’s seemed out of place because I thought I had moved away from the neighborhood. I soon recognized the sound as the putt-putting of an all-terrain vehicle. There’s an old woods road in the area and that might be an appropriate place to drive a four-wheeler, but this guy had left the road and was driving off-road through the woods. I guess if you’ve invested thousands in a toy like this you go to the woods you have and not the woods you wish you had even if those woods happen to be an Audubon sanctuary. I’m inclined to mind my own business so I said hello and went on my way. This seemed to be a one-off Super Sunday internal combustion joy ride, but if I thought this was a regular event that threatened to tear up the woods, I would have notified the Audubon people.
At this point, I was getting my bearings and spotted the hill I was looking for and headed north. Overhead, a red-tailed hawk was circling and shrieking in the clear blue sky above the tall pines as if sharing my annoyance at the motorized invader. I found a place to hop over one of the headwater branches of Beaver Brook and started to climb. I found a faint trail running along the north-south axis of the hill, but Hobbs Hill is to the northeast of this unnamed hill so I didn’t think it was the trail I was looking for.
I walked back and forth along the hilltop a couple of times looking for trails and a place to sit with my coffee. Unlike Hobbs Hill, I couldn’t find any large rocks to sit on here, leading me to think this was a glacial deposit whereas the larger
Movement caught my eye, and I saw robins flying like silent ghosts low through the forest. I’d seen them along this brook before, but robins deep in the woods always seem out of place to me. I wonder if it’s the running water or the rich soil of the small alluvial flats that attracts them. The robins were quiet, but I heard the deeee-dee of a chickadee and the tooting of a titmouse, making me hope that winter was loosening its grip on Moose Hill.
Time was growing short and my seat was not as comfortable as I like, so I dropped down to the brook and followed it up to the road where I walked back to my bike. I was a little surprised at how far my wanderings had taken me.
Exploring new places is fun, but it’s also good to have a few favorite spots to go to. If I feel the need to disappear into the woods but only have an hour or so, I like to retreat to a familiar perch. I can get there quickly and spend more time quietly observing and thinking and less time wandering. I liken it to a musician having a repertoire of old standards, the angler having favorite fishing holes, or the hunter having traditional coverts. I can pick my destination depending on my mood. I like to go to a place I’ve been before and see how things have changed over the seasons. I sometimes find that being in a particular place reminds me of daydreams I had there before as if the thoughts wait for me there, waiting for me to return. I didn't find a perfect spot on this trip to Moose Hill, but I hope to go back soon to check up on some old dreams.