August 9, 2012

Wild Walk with a Five-year Old

By Margaret Gillespie

My five-year old niece, Yesi is always ready to go exploring with me and my poodle Mica. The forest was moist in the early morning and we soon caught sight of a red eft – the juvenile of New Hampshire’s state amphibian, the red-spotted newt. Efts are bright orange with tiny red dorsal spots encircled with black. With skin that is toxic to predators, they can walk boldly but do stick to shady spots to avoid the drying effects of the sun. Yesi found two more efts on our walk. We held one gently on a bed of dead leaves to get a closer look.

Crossing a grassy area, Yesi found places where an animal had shoved little mounds of earth up to the surface. We could see where it had tunneled under the grass and left holes in the top of the tunnel. Across the lawn, we followed this subterranean trail of a mole. Earthworms beware!

Of course, we had to visit our favorite fallen pine tree. When it came down across the trail, the top was lopped off, leaving a good section of trunk suspended above the forest floor. Climbing on by the roots and maneuvering around branches, Yesi and Mica found their way, with great excitement, to the far end. Once there, they were too high to jump but in just the right place to enjoy the view. My pleasure came in watching them. We’ll have to go back again soon!

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