Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18: Pines

This afternoon I walked with a friend along the Little River Community Hiking Trail that begins just off Route One at the Belfast Water District. We set out on a brief hike on this surprisingly mild day, following the trail along the edge of the Little River reservoir up to where it narrows into the river itself. Near the beginning of the trail, you get an unusual perspective on the reservoir behind the dam seeming to pour off into space, with a glimpse of its outlet into the cove beyond. It looks sort of like an infinity pool at the ocean's edge, only set among fall trees rather than fancy landscaping. (From the other side, from Route One, this dam and waterfall with adjacent red buildings are very picturesque.)

The trail hugs the water's edge, so as we walked, we flushed from the water a few flocks of mallards. In certain seasons, I can imagine the mostly-forested reservoir attracting lots of ducks. Red squirrels scolded us periodically. We heard some white-throated sparrows calling in the underbrush and were stopped in our tracks by the cackling call of a pileated woodpecker, which shortly thereafter flew in front of us across the trail deeper into the woods.

But what I enjoyed most about the trail was the pine trees. The Water District property hosts quite a few really old pines, the kind with trunks too big to get your arms around, rising so straight and tall you can almost imagine them as the King's Pines of 400 years ago--the ones they saved for masts for the royal navy. These dramatic trees were true presences in the forest, lordly beings in their own right. And they had scattered their yellow needles in a carpet along the trail, cushioning each step so that we couldn't help but walk in a hush from tree to tree.

We pass quietly
noble old pines, but squirrel
scolds, gives us away.

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