Aki and I are racing through the Troll Woods, pursued by mosquitos. Six or eight of the pests buzz around the little dog’s face each time she stops to sniff or pee. She shows no sign of being bit. I wish I could say the same. I have a rosary of bites across my forehead. It’s not surprising, then, that we have the woods almost to ourselves.
The place is full of birds. Robins dare Aki to chase her. She is no mood for the game today. Song birds belt out their nesting tunes in the canopy. Most are hidden in the leaves. But a winter wren settles on an exposed branch and belts out its signature song.
We leave the gravel paths and follow trails in the mossy floor that were pioneered by beavers. They are night workers so none appear outside their log-covered dens. But evidence of their presence is everywhere. Sticks stripped of their bark float in the lakes. Similarly denuded cottonwood tree trucks lie on the forest floor. We even find a wood pile of foot-long logs that were cut up by the beaver’s sharp front teeth, not a saw. I wonder if the beavers are preparing wood for a mid-summer bon fire.