The home­made Christ­mas Wreath

Record Observer - - Opinion -

When I was grow­ing up, I re­mem­ber one of my fa­vorite un­cles who al­ways weaved home­made hol­i­day wreaths for fam­ily and friends. Th­ese Christ­mas wreaths w e r e made of crows­foot with just a touch of holly and pine. It was a tra­di­tion to gather crows­foot ev­ery year in his back yard woods for mak­ing his wreaths. This crows­foot plant was also once widely har­vested and sold as Christ­mas green­ery.

Crows­foot is con­sid­ered en­dan­gered since it grows from spores and takes 20 years to grow new colonies. This is just one small ex­am­ple of why we should ap­pre­ci­ate our en­vi­ron­ment and all of na­ture’s gifts. If you walk in our lo­cal woods dur­ing the win­ter months, keep an eye out for this fas­ci­nat­ing and at­trac­tive group of ground cover plants but please be re­minded of the del­i­cate and fas­ci­nat­ing life cy­cle and slow growth of th­ese im­por­tant plants of the for­est floor. It prefers dis­turbed ar­eas and conif­er­ous forests, dry dap­pled sun to deep moist shade. Th­ese plants can be eas­ily over­looked but if you see the beau­ti­ful deep green fo­liage and ev­er­green ground cover, it will leave a last­ing im­pres­sion.

The spe­cific species, Diphasi­as­trum dig­i­ta­tum is known as a va­ri­ety of com­mon names such as ground cedar, run­ning cedar, run­ning-pine, fan club­moss and crows­foot.

Crows­foot car­pets the for­est floor and grows to a height of about four inches. It is not a flow­er­ing plant, re­pro­duc­ing in­stead through stro­bili that stick up above the shoots and send out spores. This unique ev­er­green ground cover creeps along the for­est floor in small colonies. The main stem is ac­tu­ally un­der­ground, send­ing up shoots that look like minia­ture pine trees or cedars and it’s own minia­ture for­est.

Last week, a small pet Bea­gle was found ema­ci­ated in a goose pit in a Kent County farm field. It’s hard to know how long it had been there but when it was found, it weighed half its or­di­nary weight, and were it not for the farmer who found it, the dog would have as­suredly died a slow and ag­o­niz­ing death.

This sort of thing seems to come to light ev­ery few years and it’s hard to know how many in­ci­dents go un­re­ported. Sub-sur­face goose pits, like an aban­doned well, are akin to an open cof­fin for the un­wit­ting an­i­mal that hap­pens to fall into one.

Sadly, the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the pet Bea­gle is not an iso­lated one, nor is it iso­lated to do­mes­tic an­i­mals — there are sto­ries among hunters about wild an­i­mals such as rac­coons, pos­sums, even fawns, which have fallen into an open sub­sur­face goose pit, un­able to es­cape, and with­out a food and wa­ter source, by the time they’re found the an­i­mal is usu­ally dead.

Ob­vi­ously, goose hunt­ing has a long and col­or­ful his­tory in Mary­land and no one is ad­vo­cat­ing for whole­sale changes or fur­ther reg­u­la­tions.

How­ever, out of con­cern for both wild and do­mes­tic an­i­mals who might ac­ci­den­tally fall into an open sub­sur­face goose pit, hope­fully re­spon­si­ble hunters and hunt­ing clubs will un­der­stand the need to pre­vent an­i­mals, es­pe­cially house­hold pets, from fall­ing into a goose pit in the first place, ei­ther by seal­ing the pit off when they’re not be­ing used, or if an­i­mals do fall in, by con­struct­ing some sort of in­ex­pen­sive exit ramp so that trapped an­i­mals at least have a chance of get­ting them­selves out.

PHOTO BY JUDY E. MELVIN EDELHEIT

Crows­foot car­pet­ing the woods.

JUDY E. MELVIN EDELHEIT

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