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In the Woods, Part 2


Burrowing Owls
Speotyto cunicularia hypogaea

The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song;
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The stream and the woods belong.

July -- Saw eleven baby Mountain Quail to-day. Those we saw two weeks ago were just dear little brown striped fluffy young balls -- but these today were well-feathered out.

So away! For the hunt in the fern-scented woods,
Till the going down of the sun;
There is plenty of game still left in the woods,
For the hunter who has no gun.

(Opal Whiteley)

I've just come back from the woods where I was talking with Maurine, who is a dear Deer friend of mine. I first knew her when she was a fawn -- and now we thread our way through thickets and over old logs in the forest. Sometimes Maurine stops when we come to a bit of an open place. And there she rests for a moment and there rest I too. This is a snapshot I took of her resting. I was there too -- but being as I was taking the picture I couldn't be in it, too. To-day I was telling Maurine about some of her relatives -- 'tis so nice to know whom one is related to. The ones I told her about were: White-tailed Deer, whose scientific name is Odocoileus virginianus macrourus; Fan-tailed Deer, whose scientific name is Odocoileus texensis; Mule Deer (so called because of their big ears), who scientific name is Odocoileus hemionus and who is also called Black-tailed deer; and Columbian Black-tailed Deer, whose other name is Odocoileus columbianus. Deer fairies belong to the family Cervidae, to which also belong Elk, whose scientific name is Cervus canadensis; Moose, whose scientific name is Alces americanus; and Woodland Caribou, whose scientific name is Rangifer caribou. And these are they, the near and distant relatives of my chum Maurine -- these are they whom I told her of this afternoon.

The day is done, and slowly from the scene,
The stooping sun gathers up his spent shafts
And puts them back into his golden quiver.

There's a dear little Beastie in the woods -- a black and white Beastie -- and this little Beastie and I, we are friends. First I knew him when he was a baby. Then I fed him Beetle grubs -- now he often comes in evening time to the old tree-root where I also come with grubs of Beetles. Now this little Beastie's scientific name is Mephitis -- his common name is Skunk -- and his individual name is Julius Caesar Napoleon.
Julius Caesar Napoleon
(Opal Whiteley)

There's many a wee Birdie to be seen in the woods when one sits very still -- and listens -- and watches. There are: those dear little Winter Wrens, whose other name is Olbiorchilus hiemalis; and the darling feather-balls, Bush-tits, whose other names are Psaltriparus minimus; and Chick-a-dee, whose other name is Parus atricapillus; and Nuthatch, who is just as likely to be upside down as right side up, he whose scientific name is Sitta pygmaea, and the many dainty Warblers of the family Mnioliltidae.

Up rose the sonne, and up rose Emilie.
-- Chaucer

I started to take salt to the pet Deer in the woods to-day -- but I didn't because I met Michael Angelo on the way. Big Dan, one of the timber-fallers, calls Michael Angelo, "Quill Pig." Now, Michael Angelo's scientific name is Erethizon -- and his common name is Porcupine. Now, Michael Angelo is very fond of salt -- that is why I did not reach the pet Deer with the salt. When I saw Michael A. coming I climbed a tree. Now, although Michael A. goes lumbering over the ground, he is an adept at reaching a place in a tree that I flee to when I am carrying salt. I crept out farther on the limb -- Michael Angelo did the same. The limb was too high for me to drop from to the ground -- so I just dropped half of the salt to the ground -- and Michael Angelo scooted down. Then I carefully prepared to take the other half to the Deer; but when I reached the ground Michael Angelo was solemnly waiting for the rest of that salt. There was nothing left for me to do but to give it unto his lordship. I just half-way believe Big Dan was right about Michael Angelo being a "Quill Pig" -- especially about salt. Why, if I do not give the salt over to him at once he affectionately rubs up against me -- and his quills are prickly.

"Gentleness succeeds better than violence."
-- La Fontaine

O, those exquisite fairies, the Coral Fungi, of the family Clavariaceae. Some are yellow, some are violet, some are pink, and some are white. And these were cuddled in among the mosses -- those I saw today were yellow ones. Yesterday I saw white ones. Dear little flowerless fairies are these.
September -- sometimes Jackenapes is a puzzle. You see, it is this way, Jackenapes is a Squirrel -- and he is here, there, yonder and most everywhere.

Just a tawny glimmer,
a flash of red and gray,
Was it a flitting shadow,
or a sunbeam gone astray?
It glances up a tree trunk,
and a pair of bright eyes glow
Where a little spy in ambush
is measuring his foe.
I hear a mocking chuckle;
then wrathful, he grows bold --
And stays his pressing business
to scold and scold and scold.

Snowy Owl
Nyctea nyctea

Sept. 28th -- Pandora has not been on good behavior today. She is just as full of mischief as is possible for a Chipmunk to be. You would naturally think that she would be clear tired out after such a strenuous day. Why -- she has been on a nature walk early this morning before any of the rest of the family were up, then afterwards with me to feed the chickens, and to take the cows to pasture. I rode Lily, the Jersey cow, and Pandora scampered over her neck from top of head to shoulder blades and back again, and then, all over again, until Lily just stood still and simply would not move a foot forward until I had placed Pandora in my apron pocket and made her stay there. (Down in my heart I had a streak of sympathy for her having to be kept in the pocket, because it is somewhat like Mother having to put me in the dark closet for climbing trees.)Then after we came home, while I was helping Mother darn stockings, she made herself a home in Mother's work basket and scattered the spools of thread everywhere. Jimmy, who knows heaps about football, when he saw Pandora landing those balls of darning cotton, said, "She sure does make a touchdown every time." Mother had to send her from the room. And I went, too, taking the last pair of stockings with me to the woods. (The stocking did not get darned, because Pandora and I were so busy climbing trees and talking to other Chipmunks.) When we arrived home there was company for dinner and Mother had nut salad. And what did Pandora do when we were out of the room, but climb upon the table and sample three dishes of salad. (She took big samples, too, just like I wanted to long time ago before that birthday that made me four years old -- of course, I've wanted to since that, but having absorbed Mother's trainings helps one to resist temptation.) Pandora simply does not absorb her training ... I've been trying three months to train her up in the way that she should go. But there she sat in the center of Auntie's particular friend's dish of salad -- he does not care for dressing on his salad and Pandora evidently has the same taste, for there was not much left of that particular dish of salad. And I was 'most afraid that there would not be much left of Pandora when auntie boxed her ears so, but she was soon on mischief bent again, when she found the place in the pantry where the nuts were cracked for something tomorrow. And when I tried to find Pandora of course I found the nuts, too -- and I was hungry, too -- and now I'm here in bed, where auntie says naughty girls should be who won't let alone nuts that are on the pantry shelf for something tomorrow ... Daddy just brought Pandora in -- she has been playing around his chair and ran up to his shoulder and jumped down on the book he was reading (just like she does when I am reading sometimes). And after all this long day, she is still bubbling over with joy, and so am i, even when I get sent to bed when I am not sleepy, for there are so many glad things to think about the fairies around about us.

"The forest is my loyal friend;
like God, it useth me."
-- Emerson

I've been talking with one of my Oak Tree chums today -- Charlemagne, whom I have loved since I was a little girl and with whom I have shared many of my secrets. To-day I was talking to him about other Oaks of the family Fagaceae -- White oak of the East, Quercus alba; White Oak of California, Quercus lobata; Iron Oak, Quercus minor; White Oak of the swamps, Quercus platanoides; Love Oak of California, Quercus agrifolia; Spanish Oak of the swamps, Quercus palustris; Red Oak, Quercus rubra; Black Oak, Quercus velutina; Water Oak, Quercus nigra; Laurel Oak, Quercus laurifolia; and Willow Oak, Quercus Phellos. Afterwards I told him of the Druids -- and last of all of the poet writing:

What gnarled stretch, what depth of shade, is his!
There needs no crown to mark the forest's king;
How his leaves outshine full summer's bliss!
Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their tribute bring.
-- Lowell

September 5th -- On the stumps of trees in the woods to-day we saw many Oyster Mushrooms, they of the family Agaricacea, they whose scientific name is Pleurotus ostreatus.
October 12th -- Saw a Mink in the woods today, and then as quickly it was gone. I saw him running and quickly he disappeared among the fallen leaves.
A fondness for apples Maurine has, but her fondness for apples sometimes gets me into trouble. To-day she helped herself to five apples Mother had placed on the table for the Deacon to take home with him. They were beauties and she made a dainty meal of them -- for which I received a spanking.

The ballad singers and the troubadours,
The street musicians of the heavenly city,
The birds, who make sweet music for us all
In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.
-- Longfellow

Many Boletus fairies saw I in the woods today -- these Mushroom fairies belong to the family Boletaceae.
I've been feeding rose-berries to three dear little White-footed Mice in the woods.
November 29th -- "Oh, see those little snowballs Mother Nature's put on little twigs," was what Marcia said when first we saw the Snow Berry fairies in the woods today. Many flowers that were now are not; but Mother Nature has helped to make the woodland more beautiful these late November days with Snow Berries -- cousins of Elder, Twin Flower and Honeysuckle.

Bohemian Waxwing
Ampelis garrulus

December 9th --Nuthatches, who likes to watch them? "I, I, I!" So away we hurried to the woods. And there we saw the Nuthatches, hunting upside-down on the tree limbs. Other names they have -- Tree Mouse, Devil Drumhead; and Sitta is their scientific name. Their cousins are Chick-a-dees, Bush-tits, Verdins and Titmice. We learned this verse about the Nuthatches:

Shrewd little hunter of woods all gray
Whom I meet on my walk of a winter day --
You're busy inspecting each cranny and hole
In the ragged bank of yon hickory bole;
You intent on your task, and I on the law
Of your wonderful head and gymnastic claw!
The woodpecker well may despair of this feat --
Only the fly with you can compete!
So much is clear, but I fain would know
How you can so reckless and fearless go,
Head upward, head downward, all one to you,
Zenith and nadir the same in your view.
-- Edith M. Thomas

"The Wandering Fairy" they call him, Bohemian Waxwing, he who is noted for his grace and gentle ways. Of Cedar and Juniper berries he is fond. They saw Bohemian Waxwing fairies dwell also in Europe and Asia. We children know that we are very glad when they come into our woods.
December 23rd -- My dog and I are outs today. You see it was this way. I dug up his chicken bones that he buried yesterday and took them to some Wood Folks for Christmas. Among those who shared them were two little Wood Mice who took very dainty nibbles. It was Jesus who said that what belonged to Caesar should be rendered unto him, and I guess Mother interprets it that what belongs to Rover should be rendered unto him, only she put it in different words -- "Leave Rover's bones alone!" And the meaning of it all was enforced more strongly upon my mind by means of a hair brush out in the wood shed. Anyway Rover, he has lots more bones -- and the Wood Mice did so much like to nibble at the least ones. Wood Mice are such darling fairies. Their scientific name is Peromyscus canadensis.
December 29th -- In the woods today I saw him -- saw the Winter Wren -- little wren with tail in air -- littlest of all the wrens, wilder than all others -- shy and quickly out of sight. Long I sat by the old stump, and still I waited. Then I heard his song -- and forgot almost everything else. And you, when after waiting long, perhaps may hear the song -- will understand.

In every wooded valley
the birds are breaking through,
As though the heart of all things
no languor knew.
-- Bliss Carmen

January 4th -- Many leaves that were green in the woods last summer are now brown and gray; but among those are not the leaves of Prince's Pine, which are yet green -- Chimaphila is its scientific name, which means a lover of winter, and it is well named. When we found them in blossom their little heads were often bowed and little Harold would say, "Hush, the Prince's Pine fairies are praying."

I know where wild things lurk and linger
In groves as gray and grand as Time;
I know where God has written poems
Too strong for words or rhyme.
-- Thompson

January 8th -- 'Tis a wonderful day I have had with the Incense Cedar trees. Pandora, the pet Chipmunk, went with me this morning to the woods on the side of the hill. Then I went to Raphael, my chum among the Incense Cedar Trees. He stands so great and tall; and last year when Uncle Henry saw him he said that he was several hundred years old -- and one of the finest he had ever seen, even among the wonderful ones in the Southern Hemisphere. I climbed Raphael a hundred feet up, and then nestled down on a limb to think things over. (When one is puzzled about things 'tis a great help to have tree fiends to go to and from their sheltering arms look upon God's big world and think things over.) It is winter now; but the Incense Cedar Trees are fringed with golden staminate blossoms. The pistillate or mother flowers are pale green. Their cousins are Sequoia, Spruce, Pine, Fir and Larch trees.
January 19th -- In the woods today was someone I had never seen before. There he was looking so solemn, sitting in the broken part of a tree. I climbed another tree just over the way, and sat there solemn, too -- watching him. I'm sure he came from the north -- from the far north. His clothes would make one think so. I think that he is one of the Snowy Owls which Uncle told me about when he came back from the far northland. I wanted to say, "How-do-you-do, Snowy Owl," but most likely he would do just what I didn't want him to. I just waited and the longer I waited the more solemn I felt, with him looking so solemn. Pretty soon I began to get hungry (I remembered that Uncle said he ate meadow-mice, rats and sometimes muskrats -- Snowy Owl, not Uncle). By and by I even forgot I was hungry. I felt just like I was turning into a piece of wood, a piece of wood like the Fir tree I was on. This was such a mysterious fairy, and him looking so solemn that way made me feel he was a mystery and I was a mystery, and everything around us was mysterious, but just then Father came through the woods calling me -- and when I tried to lean over to some way give him a signal to keep quiet, I slipped and started head-first down that tree, and at once the mysterious stranger went rapidly away in another direction.
January 18th -- Dear little fairies I watched in the woods today -- fairies who have come a long way. Never have I seen them in summer -- only in the winter; and rarely then. Last year at their coming we placed in the woods here for them on a tree a lunch counter. They came not unto this on the first day; but upon the third day we had the joy of seeing them eating the Alder seeds. Other seeds they liked, too. We love this verse about Redpolls:

In the birches, on the grasses,
Stiffly rising through the snow crust,
On the slope of yonder sand-bank.
Where the snow has slipped and wasted,
Rest a flock of trustful strangers,
Lisping words of gentle greeting,
Rest and find the sun's rays warming,
Rest and find their food abundant,
Resting sing of weary journeys
From a Northland, cold and distant.
Rose-touched are their brows with tints like
Lights upon a winter's snow field,
Rosy are their caps as morning,
When the storm clouds gather eastward;
Happy are their hearts and voices,
Happy are the fields and forests,
When their merry notes come jingling,
Sleighbell like, from upper ether.

I've been exploring to-day -- just looking about for the cradles of fairies, the cradles that were homes in the Spring. I went again to the hollow tree where the Screech Owl babies were hatched -- and then to the tree where the Pileated Woodpecker babies were raised. (I had to climb over thirty-seven and a half feet up to this cradle in the first tree.) Then, too, I saw a Wood Rat cradle which I'm sure was still occupied. It was a heap of sticks in the brush -- and while I sat waiting I saw his lordship among the sticks. Truly he looks like an enlarged edition of dear little Wood Mouse. On my journey I came again to the home of the Chick-a-dees where a set of triplets and two sets of twins were raised this last year. On a little farther was the nest of a Wood Warbler. Too, I found the cradles of three Moths -- three cradles made by three beautiful green caterpillars who came from eggs laid by Polyphemus Moths. I came past the log under which Mother Grouse nested in May, and went on to the old Maple tree in which the Flying Squirrels were sleeping. I climbed up and put their nuts in the cubbyhole. I meant to be very quiet; but out came Romeo, and Juliet poked her nose up. I had not placed all the nuts in their cubby hole so they ate the ones that were left in my pocket. It was dark time, so I came home -- and there were mashed potatoes for supper.

Mosses and lichens,
children of lowly birth,
Humblest creatures of the wood,
to your peaceful brotherhood
Sweet the promise that was given,
like the dew from heaven;
Blessed are the meek,
they shall inherit the earth,
Thus are the words fulfilled:
over all the earth
Mosses find a home secure
on the desolate mountain crest,
Avalanche-plowed and tempest-tilled,
the sweet mosses rest;
On shadowy banks of streamlets pure,
kissed by the cataract's spray,
For the bird's swift foot a small highway,
for the many and one distressed,
Little sermons of peace.

Now is the time to seek for many Lichens and Mosses before the coming of the flowering plants.
January 28th -- Synthyris is blooming in the woods. Pearl and I call them Bluebells, which belong to January. We transplanted four plants for Grandmother last week. Synthyris belongs to the Figwort family; but blooms some time before its cousins -- Mullein, Monkey Flower, Foxglove and Indian Paint Brush.
February 5th -- In the mountains with my Fir Friends -- many are they, many and dear -- Silver Fir, Lovely Fir, Balsam Fir, White Fir, Noble Fir and Shasta Fir. Green in summer, green in winter, clothed in glory the whole year round. Some say the Fir trees are somber; but surely they have not known the joy of their companionship that comes when one walks among them and the peace and the goodness of God's great world enters into one's heart. Today soft shadows lay upon them, and towards evening they were tinged with blue and purple. Many and different are these forest pictures, which the Master Artist, with various shades and changing shadows is ever giving; and though we wander far, the memories of these lead us back to find there again peace and strength within the forest. The message of the Firs is this -- that we take the joy and strength we find among them to our fellow men, sharing the Forest's blessing with them.

There are thoughts that come
from the soul of the pine,
And thoughts in a flower bell curled;
And the thoughts that are blown
with the scent of the fern
Are as new and as old as the world.

February 7th -- They are blooming in a swamp in the woods. We smelled them afar off before we came near unto them -- those Skunk Cabbages, cousins of the queenly Calla Lily. When we reached the flowers small Gnats and Flies were there before us; seemingly attracted by the unpleasant odor of the plant. Skunk Cabbages serve these little Flies by supplying food unto them and are in turn served by the little flies as they aid in fertilization by carrying pollen from one plant to another.

West Wind, O though,
Who chariotest to their dark, wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie, cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth.
-- Shelley

Sure, afther all the winther,
An' afther all the snow,
'Tis find to see the sunshine,
'Tis fine to feel its glow;
'Tis fine to see the buds break
On boughs that bare have been --
But best of all to Irish eyes,
'Tis grand to see the green.
-- Mccarthy

Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dewdrops which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
-- Milton

Little Grandmother has been telling me about Miskodeed who dwells in the land beyond the hills. And she took from an old chest a letter that was half as old as the chest -- and in that letter were the fragments of Miskodeeds sent her by dear Grandfather when she was in her teens -- and that was seventy years ago. Then they loved these flowers of springtime -- and now they tell me about them. Sometimes we sit in the twilight hour together, Grandfather, Grandmother and I -- and talk of God's flowers -- and his cathedral singers. Too, we have heard little Spring Beauty's here in our Oregon and I have transplanted them to a corner of Little Grandmother's garden where one by one they bloom.

Each affluent petal outstretched and uncurled
To the glory and goodness and shine of the world.

Where the fire had smoked and smoldered
Saw the earliest flower of springtime,
Saw the beauty of the springtime,
Saw the Miskodeed in blossom.

Our Wild Flower Garden in which dwell the members of the Orchid family is in the forest. To this place we have transplanted flowers from our own Oregon woods and flowers from the land beyond the hills. They of the Orchid family who dwell in this garden are: Ladies' Slippers (pink and yellow ones), Ladies' Tresses, Rattlesnake Plantains, Coral Roots, Calypso, and Twayblades.

Now Spring has clad the grove in green,
And strewed the leaf wi' flowers.
-- Robert Burns

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