On bathing in the water and in the forest at Sandy Lake – in March! 26Mar2021

Christmas ferns on a mound – the resting place of a very big tree that fell about 150 years ago –  in old forest by Sandy Lake, Mar 23, 2021
Click on images for larger versions

A couple of days ago, I had to “get away from it all” so I went to walk and just relax in my favourite hardwoods on the big drumlin on the east side of Sandy Lake.

I had expected that the lake would be ice-free, but it was still mostly covered over (although mushy) viewed from Sandy Lake Beach Park. No one will be bathing in Sandy Lake for a while, I thought.

Within minutes of climbing the drumlin, I was in a different world, free of all of the distractions of our complicated lives in Covid times. There was lots to celebrate about the natural world there. In the damp woods by the lake, hobble bush was getting ready to flower. As I walked through the hemlocks I looked for any signs of hemlock wooly adelgid (the “hemlock vampire”) and could see none, only healthy hemlocks. The ground below the hardwoods was well-lit, with leaf-out still many weeks away; evergreen Christmas ferns lay prostrate on the big mounds in this bit of Old Growth forest.

Left: hemlock forest; Above:  sharp shinned hawk & pileated woodpecker; Right, Top: Hardwoods, Right, Below:  hobble bush getting ready to leaf out and flower

I could hear a hawk, and caught it in my camera in the sky above. Then I heard the jack-hammer-loud pecking of a pileated woodpecker. It stopped, and started again a few minutes later a little further away; evidently it was checking the old trees and snags for insects (particularly carpenter ants). I moved towards it, finally caught it before it took off again.

Sandy Lake & Environs/the proposed Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park lies in the centre of rapidly growing communities, a huge natural asset to those communities.

I had seen many of the big, vertically rectangular holes of the pileated woodpecker in big old trees and snags in these woods, but this was the first time I saw the bird itself.

There were a few juncos flitting about the forest floor but the migratory birds that we see in spring in these woods were yet  to arrive; I especially look forward to the loud voices of the ovenbird which is common and nests in these woods later on.

Driving back home, I listened as CBC Mainstreet’s Jeff Douglas talked to a “Forest Therapist”… In the interview, Douglas asked if “Forest Therapy” is the same as “Forest Bathing”. Yes, she said and we should have at least 2 hours a week of it. She was so right.

Later that day, WR sent me a link to an article in the Chronicle Herald: Dal student does a polar bear dip a day to help Halifax’s homeless (Stuart Peddle in the CH, Mar 23, 2021). “The Concept Project aims to gather donations of clothing through a dive into icy water every day in March”. Guess where this one was!

It was good to read about this effort. Old Forests and Young People give me a lot of solace and hope for the future, respectively. Both were active at Sandy Lake this week.

I just hope we can keep the wild lands of Sandy Lake & Environs from shrinking and the lakes from deteriorating so that future generations will also be able to enjoy them.

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