Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Manorville Hills Hike

A “Mack” truck greeted me in the parking lot of the Manorville Hills County Park. Mack is Mark’s pet dog, a look alike for the shiny silver ornaments on trucks of the same name. Mark often takes Mack on his walks. “He can keep up for miles” boasts mark.
We headed out on the Paumanok Path following nice, fresh white rectangular blazes. An overcast sky took the glare away producing a soft, intense green shrub layer, and crusty brown barky trunks of pitch pine and gray of oaks.
We stopped at a meadow to check out one of the five benches I made and brought into the park. A path had been mowed to the bench adding to its charm. The flood of light and opening in the forest prompted Mark to comment “This would be a good place for a house.”
I wandered into the meadow and found a dragonfly holding on to a blade of grass. Mark and Mack followed. Mark took a photo, Mack picked up ticks.
We passed through the pine plantation. “These trees are dead” Mark said. “Look up” they’re still alive. Their own branches create so much shade that their lower branches die. These trees were planted way too close together and this is the result.” The wonderful variety of landscape changes, trees, ferns, and well-marked paths create a charming and pleasant atmosphere.
We checked out other benches making adjustments to their balance. “They ought to put concrete benches here. Yours are starting to decay.” teases Mark. Not likely. These trails go way back into the 35,000 acre Pine Barrens core preservation area. This area is the insurance policy for our water supply. Beneath these hills, fresh clean water right up to the top of the water table. There are no pollutants leaching into this water. The future will hold the answer as to how the water beneath these hills will be used. It is as pristine as the Catskill water supply to New York City. A company called PINE BARRENS PURE pumps water and bottles.
We climbed a hill and reached one of my benches on top. “This is my best one.” I say. It was shaped out of red cedar and leaned up against a tree for stability. “I carried it here on my shoulder.” I was pleased to see all four benches still in place. A friend John Burnley helped me cart the heavier ones in.
We decided to head back to the parking lot. Mark had to go to his office in Riverhead. Mark wondered aloud as to why we don’t see any wildlife? I came up with three reasons. The woods are dry and there’s not much diversity, there’s no water, there’ no ecotone. Wildlife congregates along the edges of a forest, near water, or where the food web is more dynamic. Actually there is wildlife in the deep expanses of the forest. We are just not seeing it.
On the way back, we enjoyed lovely patches of fresh hay scented fern and marginal wood fern. Mark picked some ticks off Mack. This was a refreshing opportunity to renew and continue our friendship. In a way, I’m glad that this county park doesn’t have a lot of visitors. Having this huge place all to ourselves added an extra dimension of intimacy with this wonderful world of ours.

June 6, 2015

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2 Comments

  1. AHAAA Good Little Article ! !

    • Tom Stock

      Tom Stock

      mark,
      I love your AHAAA THAT’A GOOD LAUGH AND i CAN HEAR YOU chuckling. Thank you for reading my “little article” at present, I have posted 23. I’m sure you’ll love those as well. keep the feedback coming. I’m on the verge of quitting writing and you’re the only person in my corner rooting me on.
      tom

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