Yesterday I walked under the trees in what I call “my beechen wood” for the first time in about two years. My new, reliable, and mostly pain-free knee performed perfectly. How truly good it felt to be once more amid the beech trees that cluster on the hill above Bel Pre Creek. These giant benign beings, so tall, so silver, always make me happy.
Beechnuts and empty shells littered the old bridge and the ground under the beeches. I picked one up and opened its spiky outer case to reveal the two nuts inside, triangular in their smooth crisp covers. I bit one, mentally apologizing to the squirrels and chipmunks who probably eat most of them. Or maybe it’s the grackles; a huge flock of grackles, more than a hundred birds, congregated under the beeches near the path, snacking and enlivening the woods with their gossip.
The apron of the big woodchuck den, still broad and sandy-pale, was plugged as if no longer in use. Above it on the hill, five more exits attested to a regular “woodchuck warren.” One of the smaller openings came out under a wide stone lintel; another one emerged between roots of a huge old black oak. How lucky I once was to see a young woodchuck peering out at me.
The beauty of the beeches at the crown of the hill refreshed my spirit. My energy revived, dull dailiness turning as bright as the water glinting in the creek below. From the schoolyard near the park, shrill voices of kids on outdoor recess reflected my pleasure in being active outside in fresh autumn air. And when a red-shouldered hawk flew across the creek, my morning in the mystic beauty of the beechen wood was complete.