Painting Naturally

It finally rained in Maine–for several days. But today featured sunlight, clouds and cool temps–just the right conditions to join my friend, Marita Wiser, (author of  Hikes and Woodland Walks in and around Maine’s LAKES REGION) for a climb up Pleasant Mountain.

LELT sign

Loon Echo Land Trust owns 1,859 acres on the mountain, including the Ledges Trail, which was our choice.

steps

Thanks to the efforts of Loon Echo’s volunteer base and the help of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the trail is well maintained. (AMC actually happened to be working down the road at the Bald Peak trail)

view from ledges

About halfway up, the view from the ledges includes the Denmark end of Moose Pond.

rock tripe

Marita was kind enough to endure my photography stops. Here, the greenish hue of rock tripe, that turns brown when dry and can survive for a long time without water.

pink lady's slipper

Pink Lady’s Slippers decorate the path.

footprint

A few wet spots meant we occasionally left tracks.

summit sign

At the summit, we paused for a while.

ft 1

Here stands the 48-foot fire tower, erected in 1920 and manned until 1992 (I know this because Marita wrote about it). We chatted about The Pleasant Mountain House, a hotel that was built on the summit in the late 1800s and was torn down in 1908. It’s difficult to envision people coming to town via the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, then riding in a stage coach from the boat landing on Long Lake to the mountain. But they did.

summit view w: tree

We spent most of our time in awe of the colors.

summit view

view 2

view 3

Marita

I wasn’t the only one taking photos. By her sweater, you can see that it was just a tad nippy, though we both wore short-sleeved shirts and only an extra layer at the summit.

green shield

On the way down, the common green shield lichen was also brighter because of the rain.

ss 2

The dainty greenish-yellow flowers of Solomon’s Seal tried to hide, but we knew to look underneath.

false ss

False Solomon’s Seal, with its flowers at the tip of the stem, also grows along the trail.

water flowing

Where a few days ago, the few streams that cross the trail were dry, today they bubbled.

And so, upon my return home, it seemed only natural that I should head out to the vernal pool. Its story isn’t exactly over yet.

 bunchberry

On the way, patches of Bunchberries are in full bloom.

bb 5

Like so many flowers, this one also has its own story to tell. Though it looks like it’s a plant with four white petals, those are actually bracts, the leaf-like structure located below the flowers.

bb & spider

The tiny flowers are in the center of the white bracts.

BB 4 leaves, 6 leaves

And here’s another thing to notice. Plants with four leaves do not have flowers, while plants with six leaves do have them. Reminds me of the Canada Mayflower, Wild Oats and Indian Cucumber Root–another case of a plant needing the extra energy from additional leaves in order to produce flowers.

Canada Mayflower

Not to be left out, the Canada Mayflowers are still in bloom.

Okey dokey–I’m finally getting to the vernal pool.

sallies

There was a bit of water in the depression, and I hoped that I might find wood frog tadpoles swimming about. Not to be. I didn’t even see any of those that died the other day. Nor did it smell so bad and there were only a couple of flies. The salamander eggs, however, were in different places than where they had started life. The sticks they were attached to have moved. Yet, the eggs were still there and except for being in different locations, they seemed okay.

sally 2

Will they survive with only a bit of dampness?

sally 4

True Confession: I did something I shouldn’t have done. I interfered with nature and put some of them into the wee bit of water. The jelly masses were warm to touch. Something will probably eat them soon, but I had to give them a chance.

butterfly 1

It was time to head home and get some work done. But . . . in the herb garden just outside the kitchen door–a Painted Lady.

Nature’s colors–a painting worth viewing each and every day.

Thanks for joining me for today’s wonder.

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