What is it about forests that attract us?

Our typical landscapes are open.  We can see down the road, or across the yard or fields quite clearly.  But when we’re in the woods, we’re enclosed by the scenery.  We’re on unfamiliar ground.  What’s going on around us?  Perhaps it’s an uneasy feeling left over from when our lives depended on seeing trouble ahead of time, and that can be hard to do in a forest.

And yet forests can be mysterious places, places of wonder, attracting us.  They are another world in a sense, and our curiosity is aroused.

On summer mornings, the woods can be quite dark and imposing.  But there is an overarching feeling of calm.  The world is quiet.

After some time in this peaceful environment, one can hear natural sounds- leaves rustling slightly in the breeze, the creaking of tree limbs and trunks, the drumming of a distant woodpecker, a squirrel or chipmunk or something larger moving through the undergrowth.

Bird calls echo through the trees.  There’s the steady bland singing of the Red-Eyed Vireo, the sliding whistle of the Wood Peewee, the musical ring of a Wood Thrush.  Occasional exclamations of flycatchers ring out, modest gleaners of insects under the forest canopy.

There are occasional unexplained sounds.  Was that laughing cry a loon in the distance?  Or the odd calamity that sounds like it belongs in an exotic jungle.  What on earth could that have been?

There are growing things all around. Unfamiliar plants with names like Wood Nettle, Lopseed, Thimbleweed, Enchanter’s Nightshade…and others things less identifiable.

The forest world is refreshing to visit.  It’s a different experience!

Ohio forest facts:

  • Approximately 30% of Ohio’s land is forest- that’s more than I realized!  The southeastern part of the state is more heavily forested than other parts.
  • Since 1942, Ohio’s forests have doubled in size.  There’s been a loss of forest land to development, but a greater loss of farmland that’s subsequently reverted to forest has more than made up for it.
  • There are 109 species of trees in Ohio.
  • 96% of Ohio’s trees are deciduous (hardwood); 4% are coniferous (evergreens).
  • Over half of Ohio’s woodlands is oak-hickory forest;  a third of Ohio’s woodlands is of the northern hardwood variety.  There are lots of mature oaks in the state, but many more maple saplings (due to various factors).  In the future, maples may overtake oaks in numbers, which could change the forest ecosystem.