Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020 - 65

SINGING IN THE GARDEN

I call woodcutting work, but it is really pleasure disguised as
work. The skies are high and blue. The air is crisp. Woodpeckers
pound and squirrels scold.

starts losing limbs. If my hubby and I don't find it and
turn it into winter warmth, then it becomes a barkless,
pockmarked apartment building for woodpeckers, owls,
raccoons, bats and small mammals. All that life breaks the
tree down more and one day it falls. The decaying trunk,
or nurse log, feeds ferns, mosses, mushrooms and lichen.
Nurse logs attract millipedes, spiders, ants and more.
Those insects are a snack bar for small mammals, bears,

and birds. I have seen signs of bears scratching out a living in the same fallen logs where woodpeckers still whittle. All this activity turns the tree into a perfect, nutrient
dense tree nursery.
If you are inspired to look, go find a nurse log. Peel
back the spongy bark or mosses to reveal yellow, orange
and white threads of mycelia. Look out for bark beetles
scurrying, roly-polys curling, earthworms wriggling, wooly larvae waiting for spring.
Roll the log over. Did a white-footed mouse leave a
grassy nest? Do salamanders slide out of sight? Did you
jump when that snake slithered?
My husband always says that wood warms you twice.
First in the cutting, then, again, in the burning. I maintain that there's a third warming. Finding so much life
where everything appears dead, will warm your soul.

The Great Appalachian Road trip
call for a free Trip guide
heartofappalachia.com

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

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65

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Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020

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