Prior to the great nose adventure, there was a great outdoors adventure in the Abruzzo National Park. We drove up last Saturday, and coming down the pass from Gioia di Marsi I remarked to myself that the trees seemed to have a wonderful pinky brown tint to their leaves. And that seemed distinctly odd because they are mostly beeches, and as far as I knew the young leaves of ordinary, green, beeches are indeed a wonderful fresh green. Once we had dumped our bags at the hotel and hit the trail all became clear. The leaves had been frosted. I'm not sure whether this was a particularly late frost or what, but almost every beech had been affected.

The walking was glorious, with lots of wild flowers and rather disturbing patches of disturbed earth. Something was ripping up the sod; it was too much to hope for a bear. But what else might have done that? There are horses in the park, but no sign of hoofmarks in the bare soil. And I've always thought of badgers as being much neater than that. Of course we didn't encounter a bear.

I deliberately chose to do two walks that I had done earlier in the year when all was covered with snow. The change was dramatic, but they were still obviously the same walks. Perhaps the strangest difference was the amount of rock in the landscape. The open meadows and the woods are littered with outcroppings of limestone that had been completely covered by the snow. The thought that a rock could be just under the surface of the snow is a little worrying, and I spent altogether too much time dwelling on my friend Marion, a superb skier who fell, hit her head on a hidden rock, and died. Too sad. She was talented too.

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