The Most Gifted of All

When I posted yesterday’s Book of July about Holt Pond, I didn’t give a thought to the fact that I’d be venturing there this morning. My friend, Ursula, had asked me to join her for a pre-hike to check on the orchids in bloom. Happy for an excuse to spend time with her, I accepted. And my oldest son’s girlfriend happens to be visiting, so I invited her along. Today is her birthday, so it was a pleasure to share in her celebration of life. Happy B’day, HH.

muddy river 1

Our first stop was the short trip out to the Muddy River. We actually saw one orchid in bloom at the end of the board walk, but I’m going to save it for a minute or two.

pitcher plant 1

No trip to the pond is complete without taking time to pause and wonder by the pitcher plants.

pp flower

The nodding flowers have gone by and the fruit is forming. The leathery sepals remain–turning red now. While the water-filled leaves trap flies and ants, I’m also lured in by the unusualness of this plant.

sundew aliens

My other favorite–the alien-looking sundews, all under water right now. Their feet are always damp in the spaghnum moss, but the water is quite high at the moment.

pond 2

The reflection of blue sky and clouds on the pond made me mindful of another dear friend in Connecticut who celebrates her birthday today–Happy Birthday to you, CMN!  We jumped on the boardwalk to make the bog quake, but mostly made the boardwalk sink. Had she been here, we probably would have fallen in laughing.


The four-petaled, downward-pointing flowers of the bog cranberries remind some of the silhouette of a sand crane’s neck and head. I’m forever in awe of the uniqueness of each species.

rose 3

And finally, what we’d come to see. Wild orchids. In my former life, I always thought an orchid was a flower that you purchased from a florist and wore on your wrist or as a corsage.

rose 2

Lady’s slippers are members of the orchid family, which is defined by its three sepals and three petals. And so is this rose pogonia–with its fringed lower lip and bearded yellow bristles. Pogonia means beard.

rose 1

Though the flower isn’t on an endangered list, I still consider it a rare treat to see one–and today so many in bloom.

grass pink

Also blooming–the magenta flowers known as grass pink, another orchid. Grass pinks feature the lip on the top of the flower, opposite of the rose pogonia.

gp 2

Their delicate beauty reminds me of butterflies or perhaps birds of paradise.

gp white 2

On the opposite side of the board walk, we found an anomaly–grass pink white!

grass white

Maybe they are considered a light, light shade of pink. What caused this? Is the acidity level different on this side of the boardwalk?

pink and white

Pink on the left, white on the right. And the path home in the middle.

Three generations of wanderers on a beautiful summer morning blessed by time spent together. We all received gifts from this experience.

15 thoughts on “The Most Gifted of All

  1. I have to get used to all of these places! Where is Holt Pond. I’d love to see the orchids….wonder if mine are blooming in my grapefruit tree in Florida…

    Still very nutty busy here with family! Eight people, including a 6year old, and 12 year old…..all in our small 2 bedroom, I bath camp! Great fun…..

    Faith sent from my Ipad


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  2. Holt Pond Preserve is in South Bridgton. I’d love to meet you there sometime. The orchids won’t last too much longer. Maybe next week?

    Enjoy your crazy family time. Precious.


  3. Leigh, the pleasure was all mine being together with you and Hanna on this wonderful walk at Holt Pond and to see those many beautiful orchids and the white water lilies. As always your pictures and writeup is just wonderful, I always treasure what you write. Thank you so very much. Much Love, Ursula >

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  4. Ursula, we both enjoyed walking along and wondering with you. I love that every visit, whether a couple of times a week, or every few weeks, offers a different gift. And the diversity of the communities as you trek about the pond–treasures everywhere. Fondly, Leigh


    1. Have you ever seen the white version of the grass pink? Do you think it’s a lighter pink? Maybe difficult to tell from the photos.


  5. Just happened across your post when searching for info re HPP orchids to send to a friend (also in CT). I was sorry to learn so late of yesterday’s LEA orchid walk, but Mary at LEA coached me a bit via email, so i am going orchid hunting at HPP this week-end. Your information here will be an excellent guide! Your photos are especially lovely; can you tell me what camera you use? Thank you so much!


    1. Glad you found it. The orchid walk was actually this morning, but I accompanied Ursuala to check it out. We found the most we’ve ever seen out on the Quaking Bog. Canon Rebel T3i. Have fun in your quest. It’s such a beautiful space to be in. Ever changing.


  6. I was delighted to find the orchids! Also enjoyed the 4.5 mile tramp through bogs and hemlock forest. What interesting habitats. I will have to go back to find pitcher plants, which i did not see. I should have asked, too, about your camera lens in addition to your camera … what did you use at HPP? Very lovely photography.

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      1. Oh, yes, absolutely! You may choose the time and i will be there. I tend to be early-ish to catch the softer morning light. I will be coming from Harrison, so a short trip for me. You may feel free to drop a private message at the email i gave for commenting here. Thank you!

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      2. Oh dear! I have a slight complication that i failed to factor in that would affect the morning time frame. Would you kindly drop me a private email? Thank so much, -k.

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  7. Glad you found them. And yes, I know what you mean about the diverse communities around the pond. It’s like a mosaic painting. You passed by the pitcher plants, but they are easy to miss. They are tucked in beside the boardwalk and your eyes were probably drawn to the color of the orchids as well as the pond and view beyond. Just means another visit is necessary.


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