Steve and I will soon be hiking the Foothills Trail in South Carolina (& NC) - a 77 mile trail that traverses the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains amongst trees and abundant water. We hope to hike early enough in the autumn, that we will be brave enough to dip into the water full-bodied style. We are excited to put our backpacks back on and live for a period of time on the trail. Using our feet and living in such a simple way is one of our most favorite ways to celebrate the lives we live.
This cool summer we hiked and we swam...
we basked amongst wildflowers...
we drank lots of coffee, toured this sanctuary of enchantment,
and took good care of our cats.
We talked, we worked and we missed the normal sultry heat that just barely arrived before the coolness of autumn arrived. 20 years of Growing Degree Data shows only one other summer cooler than this one; before I even thought to look up the weather information scientifically, we witnessed the change in the timing of the plants, the insects and all the lifeforms that depend on the latter two.
We traveled south to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in KY/TN to chase summer and luxuriate in the lush greenery and the thick insect song. It was joyous! Black bears were feasting on eastern yellow jacket nests; each one - trail side - had been torn open, torn apart and consumed.
We discovered a new-to-us shrub: buffalo nut (Pyrularia pubera), a member of the sandalwood family. This one stumped us for days and it was members of the nature community that stepped in and moved us forward. This is our kind of exciting!
Of course we found American persimmon, because, of course, we searched everywhere.
Back in Ohio we marveled at rich color...
and tall grasses...
and clear water.
We thought about relationships between the water willow above and the sandbars they grow on. We also thought about the fungal network below ground that sometimes becomes evident topside.
We found frass in our backyard and knew, even though we could not see them, a large silkmoth caterpillar was feasting in the sugar maples above. Steve wondered about eating concentrated/digested sunlight. Could it be a hiker superfood?
We ogled at prepupal ochre dagger moth caterpillars,
spotted apatelodes caterpillars feasting on redbud...
and white-marked tussock moth caterpillars on delicious and gorgeous American plum.
The darling underwing moth surprised us one day, clinging to our recently stacked wood pile so, of course, we ooed and ahhed and then learned the caterpillars host on poplar and willow. There are plenty of those plants here and the ecological connections continue to become visible. Rewilding works.
The turbulent phosphila full on stopped our quick moving feet during one of our 10 mile walks in forest bigger than our 3.5 acre rewilding land. Normally they host on greenbrier, but this one looked pretty content on jumpseed. We hypothesized they either fell off greenbrier and were looking for more, developed a taste for jumpseed or were just on walkabout to find a good pupation site.
This world is a beautiful place and one we are so fortunate to explore and care for. Our bodies (and their abilities and inabilities) are the same...ones we are fortunate to have and to use and to care for.
Walk on. Roll on. Crawl on. Keep on.