Due to the generosity of friends, this afternoon I picked up some items for the Lakes Environmental Association’s silent/live auction to be held at the Stone Mountain Arts Center on July 14th. And one of those pick-ups put me in the Horseshoe Pond area where a mourning cloak butterfly danced in the sky as I drove down the dirt road. Alas, I couldn’t photograph it, so it will have to remain in my mind’s eye, but I was excited for it was the first sighting of the season–a harbinger of spring.
Back at the boat landing by Horseshoe Pond, I parked, donned my Boggs, and hoped for another butterfly sighting. It wasn’t to be, but the view was worth a pause as I looked at the left portion of this upside-down, U-shaped pond.
The water roared through the culvert and I walked to the other side of the road, where the pond outlet becomes Sucker Brook–which overflowed its main bed.
My friends suggested I might need snowshoes, but of course, I’d left them home. They were right. I should have worn them and dig post holes I did as I followed the brook. Of course, first I had to climb over the dirt-covered snowy embankment by the road in order to get onto the trail at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Wilson Wing Moose Pond Bog Preserve. It was worth the effort.
One of my favorite spots along the brook is this yellow birch tree, which typically stands on stilts atop a rock at the water’s edge. Who would know? For now, those spindly legs are still blanketed under layers of snow.
I expected the tracking conditions to be better than they were, but instead needed to focus on signs if I wanted to figure out what mammals came before me. Several middens of cone scales spoke of red squirrels. And there was deer scat nearby.
Because this is a moist area, hobblebush grows here and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to enjoy its sculptural structure created by downy-coated leaf buds.
Equally beautiful were the expanding flowers–globe-like in appearance, with subtle hints of green.
And at the viewing platform, I was forced to climb up. Last year, Moose Pond Bog was a shrunken wetland, or so it seemed given the drought. Today–water, water, everywhere.
Back down the stairs, I searched about in a few sunny spots where the snow had melted. That’s when I spied last year’s berry dangling from a plant still sporting its maroon coloration of winterberry.
And near it–a sight for spring-needy eyes . . .
trailing arbutus leaves and flower buds. Yes, Virginia, spring will come to western Maine. And we’ll all appreciate it more for it’s a season that never likes to rush.
I continued on and when I paused to look at some common polypody ferns that decorate a boulder, I spotted something else.
Feathers of varying sizes were scattered about.
A mourning dove had served as dinner. But for whom? No matter. Taking advantage, snow fleas hunted for their own form of sustenance on the only part of the bird left behind.
Before I climbed up to the road at the end of the trail, I had one more stream to cross–it’s usually a mere trickle, but not today.
Rather than backtrack, I chose to walk the road–a much easier substrate. It was along there that I saw numerous tinderconks decorating one tree. Though they are also known as horse’s hoof, these reminded me more of elephant feet with big toes protruding at the base.
Back by my truck, I looked for the mourning cloak again–to no avail. Instead, my eyes were drawn to the reflection and memories of dragonfly hunting in this very spot last summer.
And when I looked back out on the pond, I could see the shimmering effect that occurs when the heat of the day meets the cold of the ice. The temperature reached into the 80˚s today. The meltdown has begun. It won’t be long now. From what I saw, spring truly is just around the bend.