She said she’d call a half hour before heading to the bog so I should probably sleep in my hiking clothes and boots. And she was right! I was just about to take a bagel out of the toaster oven when the phone rang. “We’re going to the bog at 9:00. Can you join us?” Thirty-five minutes later I pulled into her driveway, excited because it was a chance to explore Brownfield Bog with about-to-become Maine Master Naturalist Kathy McGreavy and her daughter, Dr. Bridie McGreavy.
From there we drove to Bog Road and parked at the beginning since conditions were dicey, but also because it gave us a chance to walk and listen–almost immediately we heard a barred owl. And then the warblers greeted us.
Brownfield Bog, aka Major Gregory Sanborn WMA, encompasses 6,000 acres of wetland. And on any given day, the sky tells its story above and below. Of course, we thought we were going to get poured upon when we first met, but the mist soon evaporated and sun warmed us enough that we shed a few layers.
The initial stretch of our journey found us moving at a fast pace, but once we reached the second gate,
our inclination was to slow down.
To stop, look and listen.
The chestnut streaks on the yellow warbler matched the emerging red maple leaves.
And I can never spend enough time with a Baltimore oriole, forever wowed by its color.
And its voice.
Birds flitted about and flew overhead, but occasionally one, such as this catbird, paused and posed.
Most of the songbirds were feeding and perhaps nesting in the land of the willows, birch and maples.
Others also sought homes here, like the gall gnat midge that overwintered in a pinecone-like structure created with leaves by the reaction to a chemical released by the larva. I’m forever amazed about how nature works.
Eventually, we followed the song sparrows as they led us down the cobbled road.
The current was strong in places . . .
and water deep.
But the views . . .
worth every step.
Sometimes, our focus was upon the ground, where we spotted a few small red maple samaras.
And scat–including this double offering of coyote deposits.
And among it–a toe nail first spied by Bridie. I chuckled to myself when we got down to look at this, for Bridie first introduced me to the finer qualities of scat when she worked at Lakes Environmental Association. She also taught me to track mammals. And . . . the crème de la crème–to sniff fox pee. Ah, the delights we have shared–they are many and having an opportunity to walk with her today brought them all flooding back.
We decided to put our blinders on so we could continue without any pauses, but then Bridie’s eagle eyes zeroed in on movement. Her mom and I saw the movement as well, but we had to really focus in order to find the creator among the dried vegetation.
And we did–a ribbon snake, who happens to be a great reason for preserving this property because its a species of special concern in Maine.
At times, Pleasant Mountain was the featured backdrop.
And Canada geese swam in the foreground.
Everywhere, beaver works were obvious and scent mounds growing in size.
After a couple of hours, we reached our turn-around point at the old oak tree.
As we looked across, one of the beaver lodges stood above the water level.
But Kathy and Bridie both reminded me that another was still submerged due to this spring’s high water level.
Finally, we did our best to bee-line back. But Kathy showed me one more great find that had been pointed out to her by Mary Jewett last year–the straggly stick structure of a cuckoo’s nest. Certainly worth a wonder. (The other wonder–when we first arrived at the bog this morning, Mary was just leaving.)
Our entire morning had been worth a wonder and then another occurred when we returned to Kathy’s house. While I said goodbye to Bridie, who is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine, her mom slipped into the house. When Kathy returned, she handed me this spoon pot filled with daffodils from her garden. She’s a potter and owner of Saco River Pottery. Though I love to give her fine art as presents, I only own one other piece. This one now stands proudly on our kitchen counter, holding the utensils as it was intended. It will forever remind me of the McGreavys and the day I first saw a dragonfly emerge from its exoskeleton–at the bog with Bridie; and the day I spent with Kathy as I interviewed her for a magazine article about creating pottery–and she let me try my hand at the wheel; and so many other memories of time spent with these ladies, but especially today–for the opportunity to slog through the bog with the two of them.