Sunday, February 15, 2009
Death in the Marsh
My first day back on snowshoes since my eye operation, and it was a gorgeous one: radiant blue sky, no wind, mild temperatures. And the snow crust was so hard, the hiking was easy going. I headed -- where else? -- to my favorite place on the river around Rippled Rocks Point and ambled about the marsh behind Three Pine Island. The bloody carcass I posted a photo of two weeks ago is now mostly picked to bare bones, with pieces of skeleton and hide scattered over the surface of the ice. A hairy woodpecker was poking around in one chunk of it.
Unfortunately, this scene of death was too portentous. I went to the marsh to visit my friends the black tupelos, only to discover that just about every single one of them has been girdled by beavers -- certain death for the trees. It looks like the damage was done some time ago, but I just noticed it now, now that I can walk around in the marsh on ice. The odd thing is, not a single one of these trees was toppled. Is the heartwood just too hard for even a beaver's teeth? Or are the beavers deliberately killing these trees so ones they like better will replace them? I would find that hard to believe.