Feb 12– Monticello ramble

Today was one of the warmest days so far this year– actually, I think it was the warmest.  Sunny, high fifties.  I blasted through my tofu delivery duties as fast as reasonably possible so that I would have an hour or more free for a walk.  The folks at Monticello (yes, that Monticello) have preserved a bunch of forested acres on the mountain below TJ’s famous residence, with a network of freely accessible trails running all this way and that.  It’s a great spot for a hike, just a couple of minutes out of C’ville.  The trails start off in younger scrubby woods, areas that were farmed until recently, but quickly climb into some stately old forest that has clearly not felt the bite of axe or chainsaw for many decades.  Many impressively large old oaks and maples along the couple of miles of trail I hiked.

The woods themselves seemed unusually devoid of any sort of greenery; not surprising, given the time of year, but somehow they felt even stiller and emptier than the woods at Twin Oaks.  Maybe because it is an entirely deciduous forest, without even the little bit of green that the conifers in our woods give.



As I hiked along the mountainside, I enjoyed looking to the northwest and seeing the city of Charlottesville spread out below, with the Blue Ridge mountains of Shenandoah national park in the background: Image

On previous trips to this park, I had been rewarded with large hauls of oyster mushrooms.  On this trip, I found ample evidence of places where the mushrooms had grown within the last week or two, but no young fresh ones (see photos below).  This has been pretty much the case everywhere I’ve looked over the past couple of weeks–lots of old withered mushrooms and no firm edible ones.  Either I’m getting consistently unlucky, or we’re at a time of year where nothing is fruiting– which seems unusual, as the weather has been damp and, at least for this time of year, relatively warm.





After hiking on trails for a mile or so, I dropped down into a trail-less ravine to walk along what turned out to be a dry creekbed.  Down at the bottom of the ravine, I came across several old glass bottles, looks like they’re from the 70’s or 80’s.  This one was the best preserved of the lot, but there were a bunch more.  Odd.Image

Before getting back to the truck, I came across an odd sight– water running down the side of a hill (rather than in the bed of a creek, or at the bottom of a valley where you would expect it).  I bashed my way up the hillside to investigate, and came across this broken black pipe, with water gushing out of it and down the hill.  A hundred feet further up, I came across the well pictured below, with a pipe coming out of it, looked like a piped spring to me!  I tried to lift the lid of the well to look inside, but it was too heavy to budge.  I had foolishly gone out without carrying any water, so I was pretty happy to find this spring– I drank up and it tasted goood.Image


Final note– yesterday afternoon, Zadek pointed out this clump of crocuses.  It was late in the day, so they were all closed up, but I made a point of going back to the spot (right by the road in front of ZK) and photographing them today while they were open and enjoying the sunshine.  There are certainly more showy flowers, but by virtue of being first and ushering in thoughts (if not quite the reality) of spring, the humble crocus may be the most beloved. Image



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