fungal tree This Saturday, J. and I took advantage of a break in the rain to head out to Grant’s Woods, a 52-acre section of forest protected by the Couchiching Conservancy, a land-trust organization that oversees the maintenance of several important acreages in and around Lakes Couchiching and Simcoe.

With Ollie on leash, we wandered the 1.5 kilometre Trillium Trail, stopping at several numbered spots to learn about bittersweet vine, yellow birch, salamanders and other facts of the forest. Most of the trilliums are just about to bloom, their tightly-wrapped white flowers waiting for the sun, but we did see a few of the rarer red variety, wide open.

But what I love most about being in the woods on a wet spring day is the smell. Sweet and spicy, that heady aroma of freshly melting mud mixed with sprouting cedar and other awakening wild stuff always reminds me of the very best times in my life – living in a B.C. rain-forest, wandering through the woods behind my childhood home.

And this forest is especially special. Says the website:

“…it is the woodlands on this property that are its true value. Except for the removal of a few dead trees for firewood, this upland forest has not been touched for over a century. The result today is a fine old-growth stand with towering hard maple, white ash, red oak, white pine, and hemlock. The soils here are deep moist sands, ideal conditions to produce tall, straight, healthy trees. They also produce water – lots of small cool streams in shallow ravines, which collect together to form one of the headwaters of the North River. Indigo buntings occur along the woodland edges. In the shade of the forest, Christmas fern and spring wildflowers are abundant.”

With several more trails yet to explore and the changes of the seasons to watch, Jason and I will be back there soon. Maybe even for Mother Earth Day, this coming Saturday (May 10) when local bands will be playing in the gazebo, accompanying a native smudge ceremony by Mnjikaning First Nation elder and storyteller Mark Douglas, a spinner who works with husky fur, snake and turtle demonstrations and bird-nesting-box building for kids, alongside lots of other activities… (for more information, go to the homepage of the Couchiching Conservancy website and scroll down). A great way to celebrate mother’s day, if you’re in the area.

Photograph by Lauren Carter