On our last visit, L and I hiked about in our SE corner, a spot we don’t visit very often. As a consequence, there were plenty of new things to see there. Like this nice bit of natural history:
What you see here is nature at work. In the foreground is the fallen top of a once-mighty red oak tree. And you can see the trunk it once stood on rising in the center of the picture.
When we gave it a good looking over, we found that the tree had been hollow and likely served as a den or cavity nest for many years. Some time in the last winter or spring, a storm finally snapped off the top of this tree and sent it crashing to the forest floor. (L and I were once in the forest during a wind storm and heard a tree like this fall. Quite an eerie sound.) The fallen top may now serve as a den site for some ground-dwelling critters before it eventually returns to the soil it sprang from, and the standing snag may yet serve as a good cavity nest for several generations of birds.
In the mean time, the tree canopy has been opened, and plenty of sunlight will now reach the forest floor that had been shaded for decades. What plants, seeds, or roots have been lurking here, biding their time as they waited for the return of the sun, I’ll get the pleasure to discover in the years to come.
This is exactly why I go to the forest!