what's in reading town forest? not much. it may be because it's just winter and there's not much to see anyway, but the place is pretty much a big dog park. 70 years ago boy scouts planted 100,000+ trees in the area: if you stand in the right place, you can see how the trees line up.

i went down to the cafe this morning to borrow the car and drive up to reading town forest. i didn't see any signs when i got there; that's because the town forest is actually hidden behind the town recycling plant. the dozen cars parked mysteriously on the side of the road was also a good indication that there was more than meets the eye. i passed by a depressing christmas tree graveyard: if there was ever a sight that would make you reconsider buying a tree next december, this is it.

occasionally i had dogs chasing after me, their owners nervously laughing and calling their pets back. i love dogs, but i absolutely hate it when dog owners bring their animals to nature places and let their dogs just run around. any place that also functions as a dog park won't have very good naturing. and excuse me if i don't pet your animals after they've been running around in the marsh, soaking wet and muddy all over, destroying the delicate ecosystem in the process.

i was hoping to find some birds so i could have an excuse to use my telephoto lens but there was very little wildlife to be had. there were just signs of animals, if you knew where to look: the hole of a pileated woodpecker high up in a tree, the scattering of deer droppings hidden on the forest floor, empty bird nests waving in the branches.

while taking a detour on the "cross-country trail" (what it said on the wooden sign nailed to a pine tree), i came across a boardwalk that cut across a marshy area of the forest. there was a significant amount of sphagnum moss and i tried to look for carnivorous plants but didn't find anything. i did see some skunk cabbage sprouts poking out of the soggy ground. maybe during the summer this might be a good place to look for dragonflies, but right now it's not very exciting.

after wandering through the forest i made it back to the ipswich river (where just on the other side were ugly factories and the sound of distant cars on interstate 93 could be readily heard), hoping to find at least a duck or two. with my monocular i spied a flock of canada geese resting near a shallow bank of the river. granted, canada geese are a dime a dozen in these parts, but i pretended that i've never seen them before, and took their photos as if they were some rare species of birds.

later i came across a series of beaver damaged trees along the edge of the river. from the looks of things they seemed freshly gnawed. one tree in particular was teetering on the edge of collapsing - perhaps later tonight the beavers will come back and finish off this tree. beavers scare me now: if they can do that to a tree, imagine what a beaver bite would look like?

i was in the forest for about 3 hours before it started to getting more windy and i decided to call it a day. i stopped by the cafe before going home. while changing my lenses, i noticed a piece of debris on the 18-55mm. upon further examination, i realized it wasn't a piece of dust but actually a crescent-shaped chip in one of the optical elements! and i know i didn't do it because it's one of the pieces that's inside the lens. it's big enough that it'd affect the quality of the photo, but i haven't noticed. so looks like i have to call canon monday morning and get them to either replace or fix the lens.

in the evening my father came over and we ordered pizza from topspeed, the buffalo chicken supreme. after he left i took a hot bath (that missing issue of entertainment weekly finally arrived today). then i started making the tiramisu from a recipe i found online. i made my own makeshift double boiler for the zabaglione filling. i totally forgot how sponge-like ladyfingers can be, and after six fingers, i had no more espresso left. so i got in the car and quickly drove to the porter square dunkin' donut to buy a large cup of black coffee. i feel like i'm making frankenstein tiramisu, with a hodge podge of mismatched ingredients. i guess i'll find out how it tastes tomorrow.