In the fall, I placed a poem by Bob Hogg in a spot near a fenceline along the Scotch Line trail that runs between Kemptville and Merrickville. The poem sits near an extended patch of dolomite limestone and edges a fence line with oak, scrub, and hawthorne. It’s about 1 km past the info cairn on the Merrickville side. About a month or so ago, after a few days of mild winter weather, I accessed the trail from Donahue Road — it’s about an 8-10 km hike. I’d walked some of it the weekend earlier from the Merrickville side, when everything was frozen. This time, those puddles were now in a state of slush or soft enough to crack if I walked on them. I was curious to see how the poem, “Circles”, had fared over the winter.
There’s a large tract of land that encloses the trail — in the 1980’s Limerick Forest, a managed forest (and hunting) area, was created from abandoned farms and homesteads. It is now quite a large tract of land that includes a variety of wetlands, and the railway cuts through part of it. A train did come through carrying freight and blowing its whistle; its movement and sound blocked my ability to listen for or to anything else for about 10 minutes. It was very disconcerting to not be able to hear a thing but for the whistle and sound of wheels on track. It was a quiet day for sound, otherwise, most of what I heard before and after the train were chipmunks or chickadees. I could hear activity from woodpeckers (likely downy and/or hairy), and I startled a ruffed grouse. Visually, I was also following animal tracks that paralleled the trail — deer and coyote. There is talk of the Eastern Cougar inhabiting the area, some say yes, others, no — regardless, I’d prefer not to run into one of those or have one follow me.
It’s a lovely walk — there are side paths that lead toward the Wolford Bog, once you’re over the tracks; large erratics; evidence of homesteads through either the landscape formation, remains of foundations, or piled stone. Bob’s a well-known poet who lives in the general area, however, he’s also well known for his organic farming/milling and wholesale organics business (which he still has a hand in but has retired from). His poems are sensitive to felt spaces, or work within/alongside felt spaces; they are carefully crafted, often having an inherent rhythm and an accessible narrative core that transition into singular or particular concepts. His critical eye is very reliable and his stylistic sense wide-ranging. above/ground press recently re-issued his chapbook Lamentations; he has several books that are worthwhile finding.
I had to cross a section of trail that runs between a marsh that, forming a creek on the other side, runs into another marsh. It was flooded, so I sloshed across, quite pleased at the rate of water flow into the small creek, as well as the sound of it. Once I’d crossed this section, I ran into people — small groups of families, teens, walkers with dogs. The creek was the natural border that the walkers did not cross. From nobody to about 20 — this section of trail probably has the most regular walkers in relation to the other trails that host footpress poems. “Circles” was still there, too —when I first planted it, I wasn’t able to embed it too deeply into soil because of the rock beneath. It is held securely by a pile of stones, shallowly piled, around the base. The poem seems planted securely enough, but it seems as though the sheet of plywood and plexi has been twisted a bit, has loosened. The poem, however, is in good shape, regardless.