The plan this afternoon was to hike up Northfield mountain. The sky was a little uncertain down lower in the valley, but seemed to get clearer and clearer the farther north we went.
Purple bugs, up north...
On the Northfield/Gill line there's a small construction company. They kept their old equipment and displayed them on the edge of the property. I'm guessing these trucks are 1940's vintage. Put out to pasture after a lifetime of hard work...
This old excavator reminds me of a story I read back in first or second grade.
The book was called Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
I just googled it and found this summary:
Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, have accomplished many great feats in their day. But new technology might make Mike and Mary Anne obsolete. Not wanting to part with his steam shovel, Mike sets out to find new jobs for them. One day they come upon a job to dig a basement for a new town hall in a small community called Popperville. Mike claims that his steam shovel can dig as much in a day as a hundred men could in a week. Mike offers to do the job for free if they cannot do the job in a day. The mayor accepts this offer, thinking that it can't be done. Mike proves he can do the job, thanks to help from a little boy who draws lots of spectators to the scene. The cellar is complete at the end of the day. But Mike and MaryAnne are trapped in the hole. The mayor said the job was not finished because they were stuck. The little boy poses a plan that makes everyone happy. Mary Anne is turned into the furnace for the new building, and Mike accepts a job as the building janitor. They both welcome visitors in the basement of the new town hall.
It was written by a famous children's author, Virginia Lee Burton, in the 1930's. She wrote and illustrated all her stories herself, for her two little boys, who were also her fiercest critics.
Proceeding on to the Northfield mountain trail, there was a sign indicating the Bennett Meadow Wildlife Management Area.
We pulled in to investigate. Right near the parking area is a series of tall thicket rows, to attract birds, I presume. Some of them were budding nicely...
Near the rows of thicket, were some good sized wetlands, which are always great for wildlife viewing.
Red-Winged Blackbirds were very abundant. Apparently they haven't begun marking out their individual territories yet, as they were moving together in large flocks from tree to tree. Unfortunately they were too far across the marsh for me to get any good pictures of them. The fact that we had the dog with us may have been a factor in that...This vulture didn't seem to mind the little dog's presence though. Maybe it was thinking lunch...
These veterans came equipped for the long distance bird-viewing:
Beavers were active here, and their dams help keep the wetlands wet-lands. The dams also flooded an area right up to the edge of a huge cornfield nearby.
The dog strained against his leash, pulling Kelly along. The wide open spaces were calling to the little guy.
I convinced Kelly to bypass her motherly instincts, and let her cherished dog free to roam, as dogs were meant to do. (Secretly I prayed that he wouldn't run away, as I'd never hear the end of it...) She grudgingly decided to give it a try. And sure enough, poof, the dog was gone, taking off like a little heat seeking missile. In about 3 seconds he was a small dark spot, barely visible.
Kelly called furiously after him, her voice pitching with nervousness. Then he vanished into the woods. Uh oh. I assured her he'd be back in a second....seconds went by. then a minute. Then two. We began walking to where he disappeared, both of us now calling after him. I might have done it this time, I thought to myself. If that dog goes, I'm in traahh-bullllll...
But then, the small dot reappeared. The missile changed course, emerging from the woods and homing in on us at lightning speed.
It was a near miss, with a bird acting like a decoy flare...After this initial test of his boundaries, he stayed within eye shot, from then on. Good Dog.
As we were leaving, more birdwatchers were arriving.
We left them to their hobby, dog-free. We moved on, and went into Northfield. Just passed the center of town, we pulled over near Pauchaug brook, which was flowing with some force. It was a short walk down an embankment to get a good look at the raging stream....
Scrambling back up the embankment, I came across some skunk cabbage, poking out of the dead leaves. Another sign of early Spring.
We headed back south. There was no time for hiking Northfield mountain now, but we pulled in there anyway to see if any maps were available. Turns out, the trails there are still closed. The signs said they'll be open in April, so they must be opening soon; I suspect after the ground has dried up a bit...