Early January and we were still waiting for winter to arrive. Finally, two days after a torrential rainstorm with 50 degree temperatures, snow was in the forecast. After running some errands in the early morning, I decided to check out the Erickson Fields Preserve before the snow arrived.
Erickson Fields, now managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, was originally worked as a dairy farm. Today, as part of the Forever Farm initiative, the fields still provide hay while community areas are used for educational programs such as, The Teen Agricultural Crew and Kids Can Grow. Recently, the Heritage Trust partnered with the Healthy Maine Walks program and developed a 1.4 mile trail through the fields and surrounding woods.
After parking in a dirt lot off Route 90, I moved away from the open field, and crossed a small bridge leading towards the garden area of the preserve. Once over the bridge, there was a hand written sign perched against the fence pointing the way to the Healthy Walks trail. The mud left by the monsoons early that week, had now frozen into uneven terrain and I regretted leaving my hiking poles at home.
Once the trail entered the woods, I found that I had to carefully make my way around the many frozen streams crossing the path. At one point, I did slip and thought that I was going to land on my back. Fortunately, I regained my balance in time. Although the walking was treacherous during this part of my explorations, I did find that the sides of the trail were filled with some rather beautiful ice formations.
The woods consisted primarily of pine and white birch trees, however, I did find evidence of the ubiquitous oak leaves mixed in with the leaf clutter on the forest floor. Occasionally, the forest thinned out, given a more field like appearance. In one of these sections, strands of white birch stood out against the greyness of the day. They were clustered on either side of the trail with two trees from each strand stretching towards each other across the path. Further on, another group of white birch grew near the remnants of a stone wall. Later still, (given that white birch never grown very wide) I came across the widest birch I had ever seen. The base of this true consisted of four trunks melded together but I think that still counts as one very wide tree.
While I was admiring the winter hue of some bunchberry leaves, a small dog wearing a cute fleece sweater approached. It did several trips of passing me, then running back to look up at me with a questioning look. As the owner approached, she commented, that her dog was looking for my dog. The poor, little thing could not comprehend that a human would not be accompanied by a dog. How could that possibly be? After realizing that there was no other four legged friend to play with, the pair continued on their way.
Nearing the end of the woodland loop, it was necessary to tread carefully through the ice field once more. After I exited the woods, I stopped to admire some bright, red berries near the field. It became colder, so I continued on my way. As I approached the parking area, it began to snow.