The outer edges of Maple Forest are mostly made up of saplings, birch trees and low lying scrub. Venturing further into the forest, maple trees begin to faze out the other species, until eventually they become the only species of tree visible to the eye. During autumn, the leaves of these trees are a vivid cinnamon red, filling the air and the forest floor below with a blanket of breathtaking scarlet. In the very centre of the forest, in a small clearing of it’s own, stands an ancient oak tree, of width, height and bough length of amazing proportions.
The Ancient OakEdit
The oak tree at the centre of Maple Forest is home to many birds and animals, not least of which is Hazel the Squirrel. It is roughly 14 ft in diameter, and contains a hollow roughly 3/5ths of the way up the tree's trunk This hollow is approximately 10 ft wide by roughly 6ft high, and is where Hazel has made her home. No one is really sure who or what created the hollow in the first place.
Inside, Hazel has a small futon-like bed made from cotton, and filled with the moulted feathers of forest birds, a row of shelves cut into the tree's trunk just above the bed, a stool made from a fallen log and a small wooden chest, in which she keeps her medicines and items. A smaller hollow further up the tree's trunk serves as a cache, or larder, for food. It can only be reached by flying or climbing up the tree's bark. Hazel carries food up to her cache, and injured animals up to the safety of her home cum-amateur clinic, in her Hessian pouch.
The food cache is stocked and replenished throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn so that Hazel has enough to eat during the Winter. Most of the food gathering occurs in Autumn. The cache is mostly sheltered from the elements, thus proving a safe place to store food for the hard months.
The ancient oak tree is far taller than any tree in Maple Forest, standing a good 20 ft above the canopy of the wood. This makes it a prominent feature, yet reaching the oak and the centre of the forest without a compass and a good sense of direction is surprisingly difficult. Due to it’s extreme height, the oak serves as a lookout post for many of the forest’s inhabitants.
The Forest's DwellersEdit
Maple Forest is home to many different species of birds, insects and animals.
- Rabbits: Though they live mainly on the grasslands surrounding the Forest, wild rabbits do venture into the woods on occasion to seek out interesting foods.
- Foxes: These soft-footed predators prowl the forest mostly at night, searching for food and things of interest
- Badgers: Mostly crepuscular, the badgers of the forest are mostly active at dawn and dusk. Those wishing to see them must be prepared to rise early.
- Otters: Elusive creatures, the otters inhabit the banks of the river that flows through the forest. They can often be spot gambolling happily in the water.
- Squirrels: Fleet-footed and sharp witted, squirrels dart amongst the maple canopy.
- Flickies: These colourful little birds can be seen flitting amongst the trees all over the forest.
- Small rodents: various wood mice, voles, shrews and other small rodents inhabit the underbrush, ever watchful with their small, beady eyes.
- Owls: Whilst most predatory birds prefer wide open spaces to stretch their wings, the owls of the forest enjoy the cover of the trees.
- Hedgehogs: Often found curled up in piles of maple leaves in the winter, these spiky little fellows are quite shy and nervous.
- Weasels and Stoats: the cunning tricksters of the forest, they have their place in the ecosystem of the woods.