Monday, July 21, 2008

The North Tract


The North Tract; its practical descriptive name somehow manages to be evocative of its landscape at the same time. I rarely go there. It is both vast and barren. In summer the heat can be brutal, in winter the landscape bleak. The North Tract is both the largest and the northernmost of a cluster of regional forests near to my home and heart. Like the others, it too is a site of both ecological disaster and subsequent recovery. In 1924 the North Tract was denuded by generations of settlers and farmers, the exposed topsoil eroded by rains, or blown off by winds, leaving a landscape of shifting sands. Reforestation began as a 'make-work' program to employ and engage victims of the Great Depression. Hikers, cyclists, horse-back riders, countless off-lead dogs and a huge variety of wildlife now reap the benefits of what was essentially a pine plantation. Years have gone by, and in other sections the forests have regrown to some semblance of what they once were, but the North Tract still bares its scars. In many sections the trees grow thin and stunted, and a fungal outbreak called 'red-pine decline' doesn't help. The middle trail is deep sand underfoot with fields of mullein and raspberry flanking either side. A few thin red pines struggle skyward amidst wild-flowers and long grasses (not to mention the knee high poison ivy).
I don't travel the North Tract much. Its big, but its boring, lacking the lush growth, twining streams and rolling hills of the other tracts, but yesterday was grey and raining and I was thinking those open meadows might be a good place to collect raspberries. I was right about the raspberries, but they went down with a large chaser of rain, and I stepped into a bee nest (see me run!), and I only got a few handfuls of berries for all that trouble. But in the end, it was worth it, because the sandy middle stretch looked striking and lonely and majestic under the rain swollen sky with all the human visitors long since driven away.

Image: 7"x9" 130lb cold-pressed watercolour paper, watercolour and coloured pencil

10 comments:

Chrissy said...

On my blog I gave an forwarding award. Pplease don't feel obligated to forward it on, it won't sit well in here ( nice arty blogs)but perhaps you might like the sentiment?

kaslkaos said...

Ah gee shucks, and Thank You! I'm pretty slow (I'm on dial-up), so I still haven't collected another such award, but I really appreciate the sentiment. They can be a nice way of high-lighting someone else's blog. I haven't even put together a blog roll for this one. I've been thinking I should. Yours will be on it.

Robert A Vollrath said...

Nice post. I started drawing again because of your blog and now I think this post has me wanting to hike again. I use to think up stories while I hiked and then I would write them down when I got home.

kaslkaos said...

Robert, it inspires me that people actually read this! But seriously, that is a marvelous compliment. I hope you enjoy hours of hiking and all the stories that flow from that. The forest is dreaming space.

Jennifer Rose said...

hopefully you didn't get stung by the bees! I do miss the forest where I lived in Ontario, even though if I wanted to get berries I would have had to fight the tourists for them but walking around surrounded by nothing but the odd wild turkey and deer trying its hardest to stand as still as possible was always enjoyable (luckily I never stepped on a bee nest but was bitten by ticks a few times [and did a very odd dance trying to brush them off when I found them "get em off! get em off!" ;p])

the watercolour does a great job portraying the last line of your post, well done :)

kaslkaos said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for the input and your stories. I'd really love to hear which woodlands you had the pleasure of roaming.
The bees were dopey from the rain and didn't bit, lucky me as I was wearing sandals and a dress. Ticks would freak me right out, my dance would include a high pitched screech. The berries are picked over here too, but I'm to blame also.

Jennifer Rose said...

I lived about 10 minutes walking distance from here Was really nice all year long, even though sometimes the 3 feet of snow got to be a little hard to walk through, great for snowball fights though :D I do miss just sitting staring out at the lake at night or walking the many trails (and thankfully I never came up against any poison ivy. Dad did a lot! If there was any to brush up against he did. Still does actually. Last time I phoned him he had touched some in his backyard and was bathing himself in chamomile lotion) First time I ever saw a wild turkey I almost fell off my bike. Scared me to death, I didn't think they were that big lol After that I kept seeing them everywhere, but nowhere where Dad could shoot one (for food not for trophy hunting). If I was really quite on my bike, deer would pass right within touching distance which was cool but kinda sad that they were that use to people :/ Hubby misses going out on the lake, even just to sit in the boat (and take turns bailing out the bottom of the boat because of a really small hole :p)

There are so many things I loved about living there, others not so much. When the power went out if could be a week or more sometimes for it to come back on. I loved watching the birds on the porch. Jays, finches, woodpeckers, the occasional owl. And not being woken up by cars blaring music and honking their horn at 3 in the morning was nice too :p Small little hamlet but a really nice place to live, but only if you had a car to get food (or raised chickens as some people did)

Jennifer Rose said...

oh and the dog looked at me like I was crazy when I was dancing to get the ticks off. He started hoping around thinking I was playing with him :p trust me I let out a pretty loud screech too lol

kaslkaos said...

Jennifer, thanks for your comments. That was deserving of being its own post. I hope everyone reads it. I loved your entire description of life near Turkey Point. It sounds great. I'm a little jealous. I live near a lake but I still have to listen to car blasting by at 3am.

Jennifer Rose said...

yeah sorry got a little carried away lol
we would still have to odd car honking a horn, but than you would hear someone yell" get out of your car you lazy !%$*" from someone :p

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