One of the necessary and important things we did this autumn, was walk the land and post the property lines. This task had been neglected for many, many years, and under other stewardship, an ATV trail had been established, crossing the land in a couple of places, and even through 150 year old rock walls. Last spring, Alex wrote the ATV club, revoking their use, and again this summer, he wrote again. Eh hem. With deer hunting season also approaching, we knew we had to take an afternoon or several to inspect the rock walls, the property lines and check on the engineering feats of the beaver that insists of damming the pond at the far end of our property.
So in mid-October, we readied ourselves on an overcast day, with bags of posted signs, a staple gun, a hammer, wood stakes, blazing tape and plywood boards, and we walked for nearly five hours, exploring places, we had never been or hadn't been in a long while.
We donned our very brightest clothing, safety first, and we were off, homemade walking sticks in hand.
We collected any trash we found, left behind by unannounced visitors. This, among other reasons, is why we don't want people traveling by ATV or snowmobile across the property. This was hardly the worst of it. We also found old tires, a bench seat from a truck and an untagged (permission-less) tree stand.
We walked along, covering ground on old skidder roads that are leftover from some cutting Alex's parents had done in the 1980s. We noted a couple of springs, several stands of forgotten apple trees and maples. In a few places we found damage from the ATV-ers and we removed some direction signs that should have been taken down over the summer. Alex backtracked a few times, following trails and adding more posted signs along the way.
Eventually we found the outer edges of Mud Pond, and the boggy areas, reminiscent of scenes in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, most likely created by our engineer friend, the beaver. There was just enough chill in the air for fog to form.
Soon after, we arrived at the west corner of Mud Pond, which is a mile back on our land, as the crow flies, anyway. Here is where Alex spotted the dam and so he took out a chunk of it. That corner of the land was never just bog and it will be interesting to see what terms we and the beaver will agree to in the coming years.
At this point, we all had to backtrack some, to get to a side, old skidder road, that leads up to the eastern shore of Mud Pond, our northern property line. The skidder road was all downed branches and limbs and a right pissah to walk on (as we say around these parts). Then, we bushwhacked our this way and that, over wild blueberries and winterberry, to the edge of the pond. It was so peaceful and still and so utterly beautiful up there. We could see some of the very remote camps across the way, but we never saw a soul.
After Alex posted the perimeter, we went back the way we came. Along our way back, we stopped to gather the ATV trail markers, and we were surprised to find that some had been reset in the hour it took us to get to Mud Pond and back. So those came down, again, and we packed them in our bags, and more posted signs were added. Again, Alex took a few trips off to one side or the other, to walk to the west and east perimeters and post there, too.
On our walk back, our attention was caught by the tinier woodland details; the leaves that were beginning to run scarlet, an infant evergreen, two wood frogs, and we startled two ribbon snakes.
By the time we arrived back at the house, the temperatures were feeling fall-like and so Olivia started one of our first fires in the woodstove, and we ate leftover (homemade) pizza for an early supper. We talked about all that we had seen and experienced, both tired and invigorated from our day out in our woods. We marveled about the fact that we had spent the day posting land that many generations of Bradstreets had walked before us. We feel such enormous responsibility, but also such enormous gratitude that we are the newest stewards. Most of all, we felt stunned by the beauty and the sheer scale, from one rock wall to the next and from one pond to another. It's our corner of Maine and it is ever so precious.