A walk in the woods

Jamestown, VA

I strapped my son, Calvin, to my chest, laced up my boots, and went for a walk in the woods on a soggy, but warm afternoon last week. The woods were saturated with the earthy smells of damp leaves, mushrooms, and rotting wood. The rain had swollen a normally jump-able stream. If I didn’t have Calvin strapped to my chest, I could have gotten a running start and jumped the muddy stream. But since Calvin was loosely tick-tocking loosely like a metronome in the harness, I didn’t trust that he wouldn’t go somersaulting and land probably-not-right-side-up in the forest. If you catapult your son in the woods and his mother’s not around to hear him cry, will you still be saying your sorry for the rest of your life?

I searched for a crossing. I found a scrawny but scrappy fallen limb that offered to be my bridge. It was springy and my son tested my balance with his tick-tocking. I made it to the middle when the branch snapped. I stood in the middle of the stream as water poured into my boots and crept up my jeans (thanks capillary action!). I should have done this in the first place. As a kid I would have not even bothered with a bridge. I would have jumped into that water first thing. After I left the stream I walked right through the middle of any and all streams and ponds I wanted to explore.

With spring, the forest has begun to reveal its secrets. But some secrets need to stay hidden just a while longer. Can you find the caterpillar below?
Jamestown, VA, woods (2)


Did you find him?


Jamestown, VA, woods (1)

Calvin wanted to touch and try to eat everything. He’s very tactile. He reached out when he saw a tree that needed a slight caress or a wild whack from his little hands. He really liked this tree with its twisted neck and snowflake-patched bark. I did too. Anyone know this tree?


After our caterpillar hunting, tree touching, and dead-tree balance beam, we ended our adventure among mossy islands that dotted the forest floor.

Jamestown, VA, woods (10)

Happy spring everyone!


6 thoughts on “A walk in the woods

  1. Love your writing style. You have such a a simple way of teaching science with profound insight and a winsome spirit. Miss you in and about the Great Marsh. Cousin Don Roberts

  2. very entertaining, rich with feeling and life. loved it. and no better place for a kid to be treated to- fresh air, beautiful shades of colors, and great energy. Not to mention the bonding time and love felt between the two of you. you share your joy so clearly, thanks for that! enjoy your journeys… momentummikey 🙂

    1. Hey MM, Thanks for the reads and the follow. Being a new dad is fun. I not-so-secretly hope that all of his pants are stained with dirt as he grows up! And maybe it will let me shed my electronic handcuffs and spend more time muddy myself!

  3. Fantastic read. My daughter also really likes to investigate tree bark. Looks like your tree may be Carpinus caroliniana, but best to go back again and confirm once the leaves are out. The twisted bit was most likely caused by Virginia Creeper or a Grape vine that is no longer present. Would make a great walking stick!

    1. Thanks Wes! I suspected a hornbeam but wasn’t sure. Thanks for the possible ID. As for confirming the ID, we’ll have to make that another adventure because I don’t remember where it was (and I’m sure Calvin will be no help!). I had my phone on me and since Google tracks my every movement it probably knows exactly where it is!

      And Calvin helps me remember that things like bark ARE really cool.

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