Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Walk in Two Realms

This past Sunday, the morning was stiff from temperatures dropping below freezing. The pups and I decided to see if the snow down the bluff was firm enough to support our weight. It was! So, down the bluff we went, exploring our way to the lake shore.

Ravenseyrie is situated on the East Bluff of Gore Bay with a half mile of "frontage" on the North Channel of Lake Huron. This bluff, aprroximately 300 feet high is comprised of limestone and dolostone with exoskeleton sections of the Niagara Escarpment playing hide and seek with the forest. The bluff's edge running along northwest sector of Ravenseyrie falls away rather acutely, but a bit more north central, the retreating ancient lake levels have carved terraces into the bluff, making it possible for the prior inhabitants to cut a crude road that bends and curves its way down to the lake shore. There are several somewhat steep hills between each terraced level. The terraced areas are quite narrow except for the third one down, which has a curious swath of boulder ladened open space which Kevin and I call "the Grotto". The Grotto collects a pool of water that dries up in mid-summer. Right now, this pool is quite pronounced with the spring melt water.

We continue our descent, marveling at just how deep the snow is on the road, and yet it falls away here and there and even has rivers of melt adjacent to it.

After several more hills and turns of the road, we are at the bottom of the bluff with the North Channel spread out in front of us, just beyond the edge of the forest.

Amazingly, the edge of the shoreline is open water! It's only a matter of a week or so now before the lake begins breaking up in earnest.

How grand it is to be down on the beach again! The dogs enjoy walking the rocky beach as much as I do.

But wait...I'm seeing only Ganja, Tobacco and Shelagh in this photo...where's Maeb? "Maaayebb! Where are you?" Oh no! Look where Maeb is:

Thankfully, the water is shallow underneath that untrustworthy ice, but just the same, I called Maeb back to the safety of the shore. We resumed our shore line explorations.

It happens in my fanciful world that when I am out exploring I am drawn down one path or another by the whim of some inner prodding. When I follow the direction I am being called to, I am always rewarded with a gift of some sort; a feather, a bone, a fossil, a special rock, etc. Here you see my first "gift feather" of the season.

Tobacco wants to continue to walk all the way to the end of the property line, but I'm thinking we'd better head on back up the bluff before the blissful sun softens the snow and we find ourselves sinking deep with every step.

We take one more long, admiring look at the lake then turn back to the bluff.

Making our way back up, the depth of the snow on the road is more easily seen.

Back at the Grotto, I take a few more photos.

Then we pause on our way up one of the hills. On the left is a tiny creek of run off water, making delightful trickling music.

Always the investigator, Maeb takes a closer look and laps up some of this melt water.

Soon we are at the bottom of the last hill going up.

Here there is an excellent cross-section view of the formation of the top land.

You can see it is not the type of landscape that supports rich, deep top soil, but it is an excellent base for prairie grasses.

And now we are back on top! What a different world it is here!

As we cross the big wide open to get back to the house, it really feels as if we have just taken a walk in two realms...one still under the mantle of deep snow, and the other now fully exposed, soon to awaken with new growth.

Though the horses have begun grazing again, we are still supplementing with hay. My calendar from last year notes that some good grazing was to be had by April 17th and so we cut out morning hay rations. By April 22nd, we stopped feeding hay altogether. It will be interesting to see when we begin to taper back on feeding hay this year. So far, we are still feeding typical portions and they continue to come back and clean up the hay, in between grazing on tiny green shoots of fresh grass.

In between grazing and napping, there is a lot of play taking place now that the landscape isn't covered in ice-topped snow.

And if this co-mingling of two magical realms weren't inspiring enough...the return of the Sandhill Cranes has now caught up with the return of the Canada Geese.

The promise of good things fills the atmosphere here at Ravenseyrie--I hope it is the same where you are.

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