Hank Kastner and I are both stewards for the Fenton Preserve, but I like to say that he does all the work and I have all the fun. Hank’s latest effort was to clean out a patch of holly deep in the woods; in the process, he discovered a gem of a large hemlock tree, which had grown atop a stump that had rotted away and now stood on root stilts about eight feet high.
My granddaughter, Sophia, age seven, who loves to climb trees, recently showed me her favorite big leaf maple in a Bellingham park; its main trunk had decayed and the multiple side trunks formed a perfect platform for a kid’s hideout.
So, I had to show her and her little sister Hank’s Tree.
On the way, we stop to admire three thatch ant hills, pick apart decayed coyote scat to remove mouse bones, collect skeleton leaves, turn over mosses to find millipedes, centipedes, and spider nests, get sticky fingers from pitch balls, and find the tiniest slug I’ve ever seen. It takes a long time to hike the half mile to Hank’s tree.
When we get there, the girls poke my hiking stick into the stump cavity, but, not finding the bottom, decide not to climb in. They’re actually more interested in the holes Hank dug to remove the invasive holly roots and they use their bare hands to dig deeper into one of them.
Note to self: children like to dig holes and could be useful on a work party.