When Jinnie Mae picked me up this morning, our destination was the Narrow Gauge Trail. But somewhere between here and there, she pulled a U-turn and drove to Narramissic Farm owned by the Bridgton Historical Society.
It had been just over a year since I last visited and I wanted to show her the shagbark hickory buds. And maybe even the bear trap.
We crossed the field behind the house and started off on the path to the quarry and bear trap, but snow and water in the woods resulted in another U-turn. We’d been talking so much, we’d hardly noticed our surroundings, but the view stopped us in our tracks.
And in front of us, the Temperance Barn and Peabody-Fitch homestead, built in 1797. We had the place to ourselves and reveled in the quiet of the day–when we weren’t talking, that is.
Heading to the road for our tree bud search, we passed by the blacksmith shop where horseshoes were probably made in the day.
And at the Temperance Barn, so named “because it was raised without the traditional barrel of rum,” I can never resist admiring the structure even though it’s in great need of repair.
And then we were stumped by a flowering tree. It sure looked like an ash as Jinnie Mae suggested, but what were those lacy tips? What came to my mind first were the tags on red oaks that I didn’t understand a few years ago until a friend helped me realize that they were leaf stems left behind when the wind finally claimed the dried leaves. Was this the same?
Climbing onto the double-wide wall, I took a closer look.
Turns out Jinnie Mae was right. But my question still remains. Were these the stems of the ash samaras or compound leaves?* For some reason I’ve never before seen them left behind. Ah, there are so many things to discover in this world.
We continued down the road, noting budding pussy willows and flowering red maples. And then I spied the bulbous buds I wanted to show her. Only, it turns out that we hadn’t reached the hickory trees yet.
The monkey face leaf scar should have been a clue. But my brain was stuck in hickory mode and I completely forgot that black walnut leaves leave such a formation. At home, I pulled out Forest Trees of Maine and then seesawed between black walnut and butternut (aka white walnut). Both feature leaf scars shaped like a monkey’s face. But the top of the leaf scar serves as the give away–this one did not have thick fuzzy eyebrows like a butternut, so I’m going out on a limb and declaring this a black walnut.
A bit further down the road we spotted more bulbous buds. These were definitely the ones I was looking for–shagbark hickory. In the moment and because the two trees weren’t close together, we thought they were all one in the same. But hindsight being 20/20 as it is, the photographs tell the story.
The subtle colors and fuzziness wowed us and we both took numerous photos.
Then there were the leaf scars–definitely more heart-shaped than the previous trees. And lacking that smiling face. We smiled for them.
It wasn’t enough to find the small saplings beside the road and so we crossed another field in search of the mother tree.
Along the way, Jinnie Mae spotted a wee grasshopper–the first of the season for us.
And then her newly trained shagbark hickory eyes keyed in on the momma.
If you go, it’s located behind the barn.
And shouts its name in presentation.
Looking upward, we could see the bulbous buds on the twig tips contrasted against the bright blue sky.
Happiness is a blue bird kind of day–sweetened by time spent exploring with Jinnie Mae, making discoveries and watching bluebirds move between the field and the trees. Indeed it was a Good Friday.
Now we need to return and find the mother black walnut.
*Thanks for Maine Master Naturalist Pam Davis for IDing the ash strand as the rachis of the compound leaf. She reminded me that I have seen these on the ground in the fall. But–to be still dangling from the tree was new to my eyes and mind.