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What the eft?!

Posted Thursday, July 6, 2023

A red eft finding its way in the forest.

Conservation Program Manager Carolyn Loeb reflects on a recent trip into the field, and journeys into the mind of a fellow forest traveler:

It’s slow going in the humid afternoon air. I ease my body over a limb blocking my path. As I exit the slimy branch, my feet slip and I tumble forward. Relief—the duff catches me. Onwards! Above me, a veery sings its whirlpool-spiral. A cool drop of water hits my cheek. I sigh with pleasure.  

As I move, the forest changes and I begin to feel nervous. I had planned to travel south today, but that direction looks unspeakably dangerous: sizzling pavement, construction materials piled high. Dry-hot. Exposed. What the eft?! I swear it was all cool, deep forest here last year. 

I stare at the forest edge. I tell myself, be brave! I try to force my legs to move. Nothing happens. I. Just. Can’t. I sigh and resolutely turn north instead—my only real choice. Deeper into the woods, I glimpse another hiker. He’s also wearing bright orange, and he walks purposefully south. I avoid his gaze. He’ll realize he can’t go that way soon enough.  

Plans thwarted, I look for a damp place to nap while I consider my options. I shake off a nightmare in which the forest is all gone. Instead, I try to focus on my favorite things: Tasty snails and big trees. Damp leaves and down wood. Expanses of trees, broken only by water. Soft night rain. Dappled morning light. One day, I think I’d like to be a champion swimmer. But for today, I’m just a little red eft on the forest floor. Relying on people like you to help protect me, my family, and the large expanses of forest and water I need to survive. Thanking you for all you have already done.  

To learn more about how you can become more involved in Stowe Land Trust stewardship efforts, email Carolyn