Magazine article Natural History

Out of Place

Magazine article Natural History

Out of Place

Article excerpt

It's a fragrant, soft fall day, not much light as the cloud base is low, adding to the wild feel of the woods. The | willows are stunted and losing their color, but the ferns still have vigor. It has been dry for a month, so the boggy ground on either side of the raised path is rust-colored and uninviting. I let the dog run free; she seems agitated, frantically zigzagging across the scents-strange behaviour for my trusty friend. I know she is not in danger. But there are creatures here that she has never experienced. Something is obviously intriguing her sensitive nose. This area, known as the Curraghs or Ballaugh Curraghs, is the low-lying basin of an Ice Age lake. It was farmed long ago but has been allowed to return to its natural state, wherein bog myrtle, sphagnum, and wild flower meadows thrive. It is a place of calm and solitude. Since this is an island in Northern Europe, there are no snapping turtles or snakes, but one could easily imagine being deep in a bayou. We continue our quest, treading carefully between twisted boughs and gnarled roots. I hear a rushing disturbance across a small meadow.

The dog bristles and runs off down the track with her tail down tight, but there is still no sight of what I know is hidden in the undergrowth. Pathways here follow the raised walls or duckboards provided, but they detract little from the intimacy of being among the dense woodland and magnificent Emperor ferns. By now, I have all but given up and become careless, making more noise. …

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