I will be leading a plant walk at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington CT May 14th (Mothers Day) from 12:30 to 3:30. So instead of buying your mom flowers take her for a nice walk in the woods to learn about wild ones together.
You will have to register with the Institute ahead of time to be sure there is room.
In my attempt at “re-branding” I am bringing over most of my old blog posts from the Three Red Trees blog.
There are years of good posts there that will now all be in one place. And I get a lot of search traffic from them that I hope will bring more attention to this site (its crazy how many people google “skunk poop”).
So if you haven’t seen much of my previous work take a look. Its mostly pictures of animal tracks and the stories that go with them as well as occasionally the animals themselves. The old posts should be up in a day or two.
Kestrels are little falcons that hunt insects and other small animals. I carved this Kestrel from Eastern Red Cedar. The wood was easy to carve though splintery. I ended up sanding this (and need to do a little more sanding in some tight spots) to get a good finished surface.
Big changes for me, back in Connecticut to stay and a refocusing my career. To facilitate my art and craft I have created a Patreon page to gather support in the old style of Patron and Artist. Follow this link to find out more Forest Wolf.
I am also combining my natural history and wilderness skills endeavors onto this blog and my other Forest Wolf platforms. The fate of Three Red Trees remains to be seen, certainly a new name or absorption into Forest Wolf altogether. I will still do the work of Nature Connection, how can I not, and the Cattail Gathering will continue.
Stay tuned here for images of my work and wildlife and animal tracks.
This is a short story by a friend and colleague of mine. Though is isn’t written in at rhyming style it feels like a song or a saga. Change is tough and often brings sadness and he captured that and more in his story.
A wolf lay on the earth, staring restless at the sky. The moon was covered with the sky-fog, and the pack was distant. Restless, the wolf licked its lips and began to pace back and forth, growling and whining at the sky, but that moon would not show, and he felt lost. His stomach clawed. He had not eaten for days, save a rabbit, which was not enough.
Slowly and quietly, he padded low through the brush, his hackles raised as he smelled ill humors on the air. The moon was hidden from him, but he knew this forest. He was stalking to the nearby spring. His mouth was dry with thirst, and he hoped to see deer, even at the hour. If there was a sickly elder, he could perhaps surprise it.
The forest wolf smelled the sweet smell of the trees near the water and slowed as he…
Wolves are a common symbol of wilderness and wildness. I made this mask many years ago from black walnut after first working out the form in clay. Even in the clay there was something so alive about it it freighted my brothers cat.
A few days ago I got to go out tracking with some friends. We came across some great stuff I’d like to share with you including ritual bear trails and moose sign.
One of the first things we came across were little tubes made of pine needles like the ones above. They hold a moth larva that overwinters inside. I had never noticed them before.
Kersey had been here before and brought us to this ritual Black Bear trail. The bears walk in the footsteps of past bears, grinding their feet into the ground, leaving sometimes obvious and long lasting impressions. It is hard to see in the photo though they were quite clear in person.
This sign is usually associated with marking trees though we didn’t find any. We were more focused on something else.
Lee is from South Africa where he runs Nature Guide Training which teaches guides and other students about African wildlife. He was intensely curious about everything.
Kersey runs Original Wisdom which also trains people in wildlife tracking and other Naturalists studies. She is generously mentoring Deneen and I in trailing wildlife (the act of following tracks to the animal who made them). More on that later.
Mike is a tracker and forager who is on his way to great renown in the world of survival skills. He was also known on this day as Samwise sans frying pan.
We also found some of the largest Red Squirrel middens I have ever seen. Red Squirrels store food in large amounts, usually underground, in what are called larders. They eat this food while perched in a favorite spot leaving a big pile of scraps, in this case pine cone parts.
In another area of the woods where more bear sign in the form of torn apart rotten logs. Bears dig through them looking for grubs to eat. I especially like the one below as the bears hind feet pushed down the ferns below the logs giving a better impression of it movements. The destruction seems intense however I bet it is quite a deliberate act on the part of the bear, possibly even slow and methodical.
A bear had been up this big old maple tree leaving some claw marks. They may eat the maple seeds up there though that is just my guess.
Another cool find was the fruiting body of a type of foxfire fungus. There are several types of fungus that are referred to as foxfire because they are phosphorescent (glow in the dark). I have yet to determine the species here. It is the one responsible for the greenish blue rotten wood one often sees in New England.
The main purpose of this trip was to practice trailing. Deneen was not able to be with us this day so it was me and Mike under the tutelage of the experts. We had found some old moose sign early in our time.
Eventually we found a trail to follow. Below is a track, one of the very few obvious to me.
The tracks were very difficult for me to find. Some were clear, two or three or four in a row, then nothing. The terrain was not what would be called easy.
After loosing the trail and finding it again (usually it was re-found by one of the others) we would come across something really obvious. When Lee called us over to this moose scat he said, in that dry humor of experienced outdoors people, “I think it may have been here.”
I wasn’t going to find a moose that day, the trail was a little old and really difficult to follow. That was fine with me because I was following a trail further than ever before. Sure in snow I have followed trails for miles, even catching up to the animal. That’s easy. This was challenging. I searched for occasional clear sign like the image above of crushed logs and sticks, loosing the trail again and doubling back to the certain print to start over.
I had one really good sequence that I had found by myself and followed a few dozen yards with confidence. In that moment it was pretty clear that I was made for this stuff.
It was also quite humbling as I stumbled around, to be with two people who routinely track lions in Africa this way.
I will be changing the name and therefore web address for this blog to threeredtrees.wordpress.com. Please change any links or bookmarks you have. I think subscriptions will stay active though I am not sure so check those too.
July is bark peeling season here in Southern New England. Tree bark is an important resource for anyone living close to the land as it supplies the raw materials for many things; coverings for dwellings and canoes, string and rope and containers of all kinds.
Many species of trees bark share exceptional properties that make it so useful. Many become pliable when wet and ridged when dry. Many contain strong fibers and some oils that lend to flammability and rot resistance.
One of my favorite things to make during this time are bark berry buckets. This July I peeled some bark for this purpose.
Here are some images of my daughter making a berry bucket. In the future I may do a full tutorial on how to do this. For now I will hit the high points.
The bark (in this case of tulip poplar) is folded in half at the bottom in a certain way to create an elliptical cross section. Then the edges are stitched together. Gabby used a bone awl to make the holes and then stitched with hickory bark. I prefer hickory bark taken from saplings or branches (any species of hickory seems to work similarly), it is very strong and drys to a wood-like hardness).
A rim is then stitched on, in this case Gabby wanted to leave one side of the bark proud above the rim for “style”.
We had a fun time together working on this. My daughter went right out and picked blueberries with it, nearly filling it. This and other bark projects are great for kids and beginners to woodcrafting or wilderness skills.