Many Shades Of Gray


Winter sunlight filters though the trees in the woods and often makes the forest world seem as black and white as a filtered photograph. But, within that two-tone picture there are many shades of gray.

This forest stretches for many miles and I have only experienced a small part of it over the years, which can be a problem. More often than not our perceptions are affected by what we think we know versus what actually exists beyond us.

Sometimes in the summer day, the tree frogs make a lot of noise out here; it is something tree frogs do very well. Throughout the year the coyotes hunt by running in packs at night, although there is the occasional loner, hunting by himself, who has either been ousted or who has chosen to go of his own free will.

Watch carefully and you will often see a deer in the late fall, but, in other parts of the year, you are more likely to see only the tracks they have left behind. A young turkey answering a call can run up on a spring hunter scaring the fool out of him or her, but the old tom will very cautiously approach, sometimes in dead silence.

More likely the armadillo will be seen in the pastures year round but occasionally their presence can be noted in the woods. Their sense of smell is far better than their eyesight. They often stand on their hind legs to sense what their eyes cannot see. Like the armadillo, feral hogs sometimes visit, rooting about among the trees when the acorns fall. These beasts can prove deadly if challenged, and sometimes one only has to be close enough to them for them to feel challenged.

The squirrels chatter away as any intruder invades their territory especially when its warm, and the doves cooing from the branches above make a horrendous noise with their wings when they signal flight from a perceived threat.

Crows sometimes gather among the tree tops for reasons I don’t quite understand; perhaps just to make noise or tell tales.

There are about as many dead old hollowed-out trees as there are raccoons to populate them and these critters can be crafty and defensive. Quite the opposite are the lizards, skillfully camouflaged as nature made them, who can be as plentiful as the number of trees there are for them to climb. 

Decaying trees and the underside of large rocks sometimes offer dens for snakes. One has to be careful where one steps in the world of the woods here in the summer. Stepping on top of a log or a large rock can save one a lot of discomfort as opposed to stepping over it and hearing the sound of a tail rattling at one’s heel when it is too late to do anything about it.

Of course, this is just a small picture of a much bigger story. There are so many more creatures and plants living in the forest than I have the time to describe here. Worlds among worlds among worlds live within these woods. All represent many different perceptions that are not just my own, for there are many different shades of gray.