My guy and I ventured off to the Major Gregory Sanborn Wildlife Management Area in Brownfield today. Cooler temps and plenty of sunshine marked the early morning hours.
Covering almost 6,000 acres, this area was formerly known as the Brownfield Bog, but was renamed to honor Major Sanborn, a beloved Maine Warden, who lost his battle with cancer several years ago.
This is a place we return to often, but I have to admit that my sense of place was thrown off within the past week.
We came to explore the Saco River. So this is where our pride takes a ribbing. We’ve walked to the river on most of our visits, but we never realized that this was the actual river. Huh? Yup, it’s true. In our brains, this was either the Shepard River or an old course of the Saco. Maybe it’s because when we’ve stood beside its bank, we’ve never seen anyone paddling along. Maybe it’s because until yesterday we never looked at the map. We never bothered to locate our place–just assumed we knew where we were. Another life lesson. Just a week ago, we were the merry paddlers, cruising along at tandem kayak speed, passing through the bog from Lovewell Pond to maybe a half mile north of the Brownfield Bridge (maybe less). Maybe it’s because we were such swift paddlers that we were clueless. Anyway, now we know: The Saco River bisects the bog.
Exploring the floodplain became our focus as we followed the river.
Each year, the river consumes more land, making me wonder what it was like when Brownfield was founded in 1802.
We walked down a mowed path, where the sensitive fern grows chest high on either side.
And the royal ferns are equally large and plentiful.
We explored in a different direction, perhaps trespassing on private land. (Oops, did that chain between the posts really mean “keep out”?)
We recognized an elm growing over the river that we’d spotted while kayaking last week and knew that we’d established our sense of place.
And then we turned from the river, retraced our steps and continued on to explore more of the bog via foot.
Wild raisins are abundant.
Eventually, the fruits will all turn blueish black and if the birds don’t eat them, they’ll shrivel up–like raisins.
The showy red fruits of common winterberry also dot the landscape. The curious thing about this plant–though this is a member of the holly family, the leaves are not sharply toothed like other hollies, nor are they evergreen.
Milkweed is ready to fly away and find a new home.
Speaking of flying, if I hadn’t seen this green darner fly into the foliage, I never would have discovered it.
Meadowhawk dragonflies were much easier to spot, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine.
Openings in the shrubs and trees provide frequent views,
including the backside of Pleasant Mountain.
The community changed a wee bit, and suddenly we were under white oaks with their flaky-surfaced, rectangular, block-like bark.
Beside them grow the Northern red oaks, with their flat-topped ridges outlined by the rusty red inner bark.
The horizontal/vertical line design of big-toothed aspen also made its presence known.
And on the ground, a big-toothed leaf provides a hint of what is to come.
A few red maples are beginning to announce the changing season as well.
When we reached our turn-around point, we were feeling a bit hot and sticky. We’d shed our sweatshirts and were thankful for a slight breeze.
I admired a few fragrant water lilies still in flower, while my guy followed the action of a northern harrier through the binoculars.
And then the wind really picked up. I looked at the trees and could see the backs of the leaves–my mother had long ago told me that that was a sure sign of rain to come.
We looked up and had an Eeyore moment.
I was wearing my boots, but no raincoat.
It rained. It poured. It felt good.
And then it was only a memory–and a pleasant one at that.
We watched it move across the southwest end of Pleasant Mountain as we headed back.
When we arrived home, the air was a bit cooler. I stepped outside to check out the insect activity in the yard and through the camera lens I realized something was photobombing the bee.
Two somethings in fact–a pair of locust borers apparently shared their own Mondate. The only locust tree in the neighborhood is down the street, but I suspect that momma will be laying some eggs in the bark at dusk tonight.
It looks like rain once again, but we’re glad for the opportunity to explore together on another Mondate–and gain a better understanding of our greater neighborhood, our sense of place. So much for pride. Life is a humbling experience.