After our stressful experience last week at Randall Pond, we opted for something that would sooth our bruised egos. With this goal in mind we headed to the Ashley Schiff Preserve located on the grounds of Stony Brook University. The Ashley Schiff Preserve is a small, twenty six acre woodland dedicated to a professor who had a strong commitment to conservation.
We began our walk on the yellow trail located near Putnam Hall and found ourselves in an open forest of maple, oak and beech trees. What a pleasant difference from our previous walk. We found it much easier to enjoy and observe nature since we did not have to struggle and fight to find a path.
On our journey, we discovered patches of ferns. These ferns did not blanket the area, as we had found at Brookhaven Park, but rather clustered in small areas near the trail. We also found some Maple Leaf Viburnum, done flowering and producing seeds for next year’s crop.
As we paused to observe the small wonders nature had to offer, we became aware that we ourselves were being observed. A small grey squirrel kept such an intense watch on our movements that we proceeded with caution as we moved along the path underneath his observation seat.
When the yellow trail ended at the road, we turned left and located the orange trail. Apparently, these two trails run parallel to each other but on opposite sides of the preserve. They are connected by a blue trail, not far from where we parked.
Along the orange trail, we found several mushrooms of different colors; white ones shaped like sand dollars, yellow and purples ones half eaten by the local wildlife and finally a red capped mushroom. This red mushroom was so perfect in shape and untouched by the critters living in the preserve that I just had to try and get the “perfect picture”. Unfortunately, when I knelt down to take the picture I did not realize that I had oriented myself in such a way that I would be pushing myself back up with full weigh on the hip replacement leg. It was a little bit of a struggle but I finally managed to get back to a standing position.
As we approached the blue trail that would connect us back to the yellow trail and our car, I found the closest representation of a bench in this preserve. Someone else must have realized that this was an appropriate resting place, for in the middle of where the two trails met, we discovered the remains of a small campfire. In the woods, slightly off trail, this unknown traveler had constructed a lean-to from fallen branches and leaves.
We proceeded along the blue trail and arrived back at the parking lot after walking about a half mile in 30 minutes.