Winding Pathways borders 110-acre Faulkes Heritage Woods, a primeval woodland that changed dramatically in 40 minutes last August 10, 2020, when a derecho roared through Eastern Nebraska, all of Iowa and into Illinois.
Prior to the storm, the view from our back deck was of towering oaks, hickories, walnuts, and a few maples. We’d often walk a quarter-mile to Indian Creek under a nearly closed crown of intertwined branches far overhead.
When we ventured outside, we found two big trees on our garage and cabin, and most of our own trees prostrated. Our power and Internet were down. Our biggest shock was the woods. Instead of immense giants, we saw trees that had withstood 150 years of wind shattered. Some were uprooted. Many snapped off with their trunks standing like poles. Others were twisted apart by the powerful wind.
It was devastating. Heartbreaking. All winter our view was of broken trees………until spring’s warmth worked magic on the woods.
Forests are resilient. For the first April in over a century sunlight reached the forest floor. As it gained strength in May and June it triggered a resurgence of vegetation we’d never seen in the woods before. All were plants that can’t thrive in dense shade.
We were overjoyed to see tree sprouts. Baby oaks, hackberries, ironwood, maple, and basswoods popped up here and there. Soon they were joined by a thick growth of what many would call weeds. A few are new to us, including oakleaf goosefoot. Some are concerning. The sunshine is encouraging invasive garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and Japanese barberry, but we also spotted something delicious.
Long dormant raspberry and blackberry canes rose from the soil. We’ll enjoy a great berry harvest next summer and for many following years until new trees gradually shade them to dormancy.
Nature is resilient, and we’re watching a woodland resurrection from our back deck.