Rare and wonderful
Nature's Notebook - Tim Abbott
August, 19, 2010
There is a stream in the Litchfield hills where I recently counted more than 200 wild brook trout in a single pool. It is the most unassuming tributary, the water very low now across much of its length. Yet at a bend in the stream the water is deeper, and a fly that settles here draws fish in a frenzy, some of them well over a foot long. I will not divulge its location, but perhaps even frustrated anglers will be satisfied just knowing that we still have such places.
There are superlative examples of rare and exemplary habitats here in the Litchfield hills. I have seen patches of old-growth forest, and a section of floodplain forest along the Housatonic that I believe may be the largest remnant of this natural community remaining in western New England. Our fens and seepage swamps and acidic ridge tops are all rare natural communities. Our part of Connecticut contains fully 25 percent of the state’s natural diversity.
There are other places here that are special because of personal associations.
There is the curve in the road where on a magical winter night I watched the aurora borealis sweep across the vault of heaven. The place where I saw wild turkeys for the first time, a few years after they were reintroduced to the Northeast in the 1970s. The place where my children and I first saw the spring salamander migration. These places have meaning because of such experiences, and are part of what grounds me in this place.
Sometimes life roils like those hidden high-energy springs that lie below the mountainside, those dark upwellings of silt that pulse with flecks of gold.
Sometimes it concentrates all its glory in the mottled sides of trout, or a scarlet stalk of Cardinal flower.
I am not needed to bear witness to all this beauty, for it has its own intrinsic value, yet in doing so I revive myself. I look for the unremarked jewels that lie at our feet, and still expect to be amazed by this land I know so well.
Tim Abbott is program director of Housatonic Valley Association’s Litchfield Hills Greenprint. His blog is at greensleeves.typepad.com.