Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Happy belated Thanksgiving everybody!

This year we were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving week in Vermont visiting my family. We went by way of DC so we could pick up our daughter and ended up driving north on I-95. We had planned to drive all the way up on Tuesday but by 3:00, I-95 was basically a parking lot. This unending traffic jam, combined with heavy rain and wind made the going excruciatingly slow. By 11:30, we had only made it as far as central Jersey and our GPS estimated that we would arrive in Manchester at 4:30 in the morning, so we called it quits for the night and stayed in a motel!

Beechnuts were scattered over the ground. Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Beechnuts were scattered over the ground. Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Wednesday morning the roads were much more civilized! We got into Manchester around lunchtime and were welcomed by a sparkling 4″ covering of snow! So beautiful – but we were glad we didn’t try to drive through it at four in the morning!

Mom and Dad have a wonderful home which, like ours in Virginia, is surrounded by the most beautiful woods and mountains. The forest in that area of Vermont is mostly composed of beech and maple with a few oaks, pines, birches, and hemlocks sprinkled in. There was a heavy beechnut crop this year which I noticed when I walked out to the compost pile. There were beechnuts everywhere. I’d never seen so many. It reminded me of our heavy acorn crop in Virginia a few years ago except it’s not as dangerous to walk on beechnuts as it is to roll around on acorns that act like ball bearings under your feet. Like our acorns and hickory nuts, the beechnut mast provides ample food for all sorts of woodland critters.

Squirrels were everywhere in the woods hunting up beechnuts to store for the winter. Gray squirrels in Vermont are so much bigger that our Virginia squirrels – Bergmann’s rule at work!

Wild turkeys; Henry Zeman/NWTF

Wild turkeys; Henry Zeman/NWTF

Sunday morning, there were five does walking along the edge of the woods grazing on the grass that was poking through what was left of the snow. I’m sure they were also munching on some of the beechnuts that were scattered on the ground. About an hour later when I looked out, there was a flock of wild turkeys scratching around on the ground under the cover of beech and maple leaves. I’m sure they were searching out the beechnuts as well. The more I looked, the more I saw! Some were way back deep in the woods but I could see them moving around. I counted at least 20 before I got confused and lost count. They were all busy scratching around with their big clawed feet and leaves were scattering everywhere. It was fascinating to watch them. They really are not the most attractive birds, I must say!

A big tom all puffed up with tail feathers spread; Stephen Bauer/NWTF

A big tom all puffed up with tail feathers spread; Stephen Bauer/NWTF

In the midst of a large group of hens, there was one big tom that was strutting around all swelled up with his tail fanned out trying to look just as handsome as he could. The hens pretty much ignored him and went on with their scratching much to his dismay I’m sure. Then a small group of about 10 hens began milling around in a circle rather excitedly and periodically a few would jump about 4 feet straight up in the air. This went on for several minutes – their antics were quite comical to watch. I wish I’d had our telephoto lens so I could have taken a good picture. As it was, I didn’t take any because I was so fascinated watching them that I didn’t think about grabbing my camera! How I wish I had thought of it! Eventually, we startled them by opening a door and off they ran into the woods.

Well, given the massive amounts of turkey we had consumed over the previous few days, I’d say that these silly turkeys timed their arrival quite perfectly! They must have kept track of the calendar, knew we’d be tired of eating turkey, and decided it was safe to come out!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Until next time – Happy Gardening!

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