The next day we went back to do the part we had gone around before. This time I found him a white cedar and a white pine to climb to see if he could get high enough for an "overview" of the swamp. He's an excellent climber, trained by both me and his father, but the cedar top got wobbly too soon, and the pine ran out of convenient branches. We saw ruffed grouse tracks, and surprisingly, a new animal for him - snow fleas. How could a short person miss those mysterious black hopping specks all those years? I still don't quite understand where they come from out there in the swamp, but I know what they eat-the invisible pollen and algae that come in the wind.
We also found a beautiful little "room" surrounded by a circle of white cedars. We will try to get there in the summer for a picnic or reading books, but it may take some wading through the pools to get there.
A couple days later a friend called to ask if I wanted to go to the cedar swamp that I could not find last summer. I sure did, because this is the one with the amazing bear trail. For generations the bears have tromped a lovely, dry trail through the length of the swamp, standing up and scraping their sign as high as they can reach, and all the way down to the ground sometimes. These are old cedars that have had the bark on their trail sides clawed ragged, or removed completely to the solid inside part of the trunk, which the bears often bite for good measure. And we found many of the long black hairs stuck in the bark, which prove it was not a herd of Boy Scouts doing the damage.
We ate lunch on logs in the foggy quiet of a forest preserve wilderness, where we hope the bears can continue their age-old ways for endless years into the future.