It took us a while to get our act together today, but finally we heard the call from the Ledges Trail up Pleasant Mountain. Since it was late morning, we packed a lunch. Very late morning. 11:30 a.m. start.
And a very warm day. February first and the temperature is 53˚ in western Maine. Unreal. The breeze was downright balmy and more reminiscent of a spring day. Will the ground hog see his shadow tomorrow?
Trail conditions varied from mud and soft snow to slush and ice. Not a snowshoe-type of day at all. We haven’t had too many of those lately. Micro-spikes were the right choice.
Of course, I was still a slow-poke. But that’s okay because as he waited for me along the way, my guy began to notice his surroundings. OOOOh my! He started pointing out the oddities in the beech trees.
This one struck him as an elbow–well, not literally. Popeye’s biceps perhaps.
And then there were the two that joined hands in a woodland dance.
We even found a couple kissing a long gone relative.
So what causes a tree to graft? Under the bark is the cambium layer, which consists of living cells. Outside the cambium layer, the cells divide and multiply, thus creating bark tissue. And inside, they create woody tissue. The newest cells act as a two-way system–moving water and minerals that the roots sucked from the soil up into the tree and carbohydrates made by the leaves down.
In order for two trees to create a union by fusing together they have to be compatible–so a joint fusion occurs within one tree or between two trees of the same or closely related species.
Of course, the tree or limbs have to be in direct contact and under pressure for the cells to naturally graft. A dash of magic also helps.
This woodland spirit laughs at us for gawking at its relatives. But really, it is amazing and worth a wonder.
Here and there, leaves litter the trail. But this one stopped me in my tracks. Green leaves? How can that be? Another mystery.
Because the snow was melting rapidly, we found bare ground here and there showing off some treasures, like these Canada mayflower leaves. We all know that one person’s junk is someone else’s treasure–so for every person who sees this as a dead leaf, I bet there are as many of us who are fascinated by the design left behind by the vascular system and rejoice in the nutrients the leaves have contributed to the earth as nourishment for future generations.
That wasn’t the only find. I’m reminded by this sight that Trailing Arbutus, also known as Mayflower, has evergreen leaves. If today’s temperature is any indication of what’s to come, it won’t be long for these harbingers of spring to bloom. I’m not ready for that and can only hope that the woodland spirit can pass on the word that more snow would be most welcome.
Glacial striations mark some of the bare rocks. Those glaciers must have been crazy as they retreated–melting and scraping this way and that. 😉
No matter what season we pass by this rock, water drips from it. Today, it’s suspended in a milky icicle.
Mossy maple polypores gathered at the base of this old tree while
smooth rock tripe and common toadstool lichen decorated the rocks nearby.
Lunch rock provided us a view of the middle basin of Moose Pond on the left and lower basin on the right.
We stayed just long enough to eat our sandwiches on the ledges. We didn’t have time to head to the summit. On the way down, both of us left plenty of handprints on the trees that grow beside the trail–happy to have their support.
We had an errand to run in Portland this afternoon, and then it was home again, home again, jiggity jig. Our day was topped off with a supper of blueberry pancakes coated with maple syrup while watching the Beanpot hockey tournament. Thanks to Pam Lord Bliss for the amber treat–this Mondate was truly pure bliss.