When Scary Trees Live in Your Neighborhood… A Walk on the Wild Side: Part 1

From the beginning we declared this the Hobbit Tree. Look carefully and you can see Smaug sweeping out of the sky on a mission of vengeance.

Peggy and I continue to shelter in place and find ways of entertaining ourselves. One is to go for extended walks around our five acres and in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest that abuts our property. Naturally, I carry my camera on these daily excursions and look for things of interest. I’ve done several posts on these ‘walks on the wild side’ over the last ten years. It’s time for another one.

Walking is one way that many of us are dealing with our extended home-stays. One doesn’t have to live next to a national forest. A local park that is still open, the neighborhood— almost anywhere that is safe— works. It gets us out of the house and it’s great exercise. Looking for things of interest adds to the fun. Peggy, for example, is infinitely curious about what the neighbors are up to. She is constantly urging me to go on detours to find out.

As I was going through my photos last week for this blog, I decided I had enough material for three posts. It’s all about weird trees today. On Wednesday I’ll feature the spring flowers that Peggy and I have found over the past few weeks, including one on the endangered species list. Friday will be pure nature as in who is doing what. For example is a bear living in the bear cave? Peggy makes me throw rocks into the cave to check before we venture in. I’m pretty sure that all that will do is irritate the bear, but I accommodate her wish. And I am sure you will want to help us figure out whether a cougar, bobcat, or coyote left the scat (poop) we found full of hair. How could you not?

But first the trees. A few years ago I decided to do a inventory of what trees grow on our property. White oaks were the most common. I counted over a hundred. For the most part, these are handsome representatives of the tree world— standing tall while providing shade in the summer and a plethora of acorns in the fall. Just about everyone joins in the harvest, or so it seems: deer, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, turkeys, bears, etc. We watch the deer play human and stand on hind legs to reach beyond where their imagination normally takes them. Ground squirrels leave the ground and can be seen precariously perched in the highest branches while they madly chomp away with sharp incisors to free acorns before the acorn woodpeckers arrive.

But not all of the white oaks stand proud and tall. Some are stubby and twisted, and ancient— almost scary. A little horror music please. They look like they could easily fit into your favorite scary flick, or a fantasy movie, or a nightmare. My post on last Friday where I featured gargoyles from Dubrovnik made me think of them. Here are some of our favorites:

Smaug stares down at us from the Hobbit tree.
This is the Evil Seal tree, definitely resembling a gargoyle.
Here’s a close up, complete with vacant eye socket and a grinning, tooth-filled mouth. “Come closer, my dear. Let me whisper in your ear.” Chomp.
This eyeless buck with its twisted horns also borders on evil. I may cover the nose in red come next Christmas.
And here is where the werewolf hangs out on the upper right. I’m sure we hear him howling on moonless nights.
Maybe not so scary, but still… the elephant. Interesting eyebrow, or is that a cap.
The Brain!
A gaping maw. It would take a brave (or foolish) person to stick her hand into it! “You first,” Peggy suggested.
A great tree to be perched on the edge of a graveyard in a horror movie. The snake-like creature coming out of the tree is preparing to strike.Why am I thinking Voldemort?
An even better graveyard tree! Perfect for a dark and stormy night.
And finally, I will leave you with this lovely creature born out of fire. Make what you will out of it!

WEDNESDAY’S POST: Lots of pretty posies.

21 thoughts on “When Scary Trees Live in Your Neighborhood… A Walk on the Wild Side: Part 1

  1. Trees with character…or are characters…rough ones out of self defense (and the living things they are guardians for, too Sigh such responsibility rooted there…)
    Hey don’t laugh about the bears in the cave. We used to camp out in National Parks (before it was cool, just cheap vacation then) And when approaching those wooden shower structures without doors, we always toss rocks or knocked on walls and shouted “any bears in there?”…’cause sometimes there were!

    • Guardian trees. I like it. Forest spirits packed away in old trunks.
      I’m not laughing too hard, Phil. I always make lots of noise when I am backpacking through grizzly bear country. Bears don’t like to be surprised. They are likely to be even more grumpy when they are taking a shower. 🙂 –Curt

  2. That gaping maw, and your comments about sticking your hand into it? That reminded me of the venerable practice of noodling for catfish in the south and midwest. There’s a good article here, but as it points out, noodling is nothing more than “finding a Catfish hiding underwater, sticking your arm in its mouth, and dragging it out of the water with your bare hands. You use your own fingers as bait and the Catfish’s bite as the hook.”

    I’ll take your tree’s maw, thank you very much.

    • My dad, when he was growing up in Iowa, caught the big river cats by hand, Linda. He said he had to bend them around his leg in order to bring them out. And when we were young we used to catch catfish nesting in their holes in the bank. We grabbed with our hands. Carefully! It wasn’t their bite that worried us, it was the stingers in the fins. A very big ouch! I could do the maw, but I would want a flashlight to shine in the hole first! 🙂 –Curt

  3. It sounds like your walks provide you with opportunities for fun entertainment as well as just some plain ole ‘feel good ‘ time out in nature. I’ve been going for walks in the surrounding neighborhoods and the golf course which has been transformed into a park (since playing golf is not designated an essential activity/business), These walks are indispensable for my health and wellbeing!

    May you and Peggy continue to be safe and well.

    • Glad that you have the local golf course/ park for hikes, Arati. Peggy and I try to get out every day. Like you, it is essential for our well-being! Plus entertainment! 🙂 –Curt

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