Dodging the Drops Mondate

A friend called this afternoon and her first comment was that she didn’t know if she’d reach me given that it was a Monday. She’d thought about the weather, but figured it wouldn’t bother us and we’d probably be in the woods somewhere. How right she was–and her call came just after we’d returned home.

h-trail sign

Our mission was a work date on the Southern Shore Trail at Lake Environmental Association’s Holt Pond Preserve. For a number of years, we’ve maintained this section of trail between the last boardwalk just below Knapp Road in South Bridgton and “the field” near the southern tip of Holt Pond. It’s a section that was an Eagle Scout project years ago and we’d helped in creating it, so it’s been our pleasure to keep it clear of fallen trees and branches. Thankfully, this section isn’t traveled often and we rarely find any manmade debris.

h-wild turkey feathers

Immediately we did find some bird debris and wondered what happened to the turkey. A few other feathers were scattered, but we didn’t look further, so we don’t know if there was more to this story.

h-following the wall

Loppers in hand, we turned at the stonewall, and entered the enchanted forest, for that’s how it feels . . .

h-green lichens:mosses

especially given so many shades of green. And a few openings that would make perfect entry points for wee inhabitants.

h-hemlock varnish shelf 1

We moved along at a rather brisk pace (in my opinion, that is, though when I mentioned it to my guy, he brought up other times when we’ve moved much more quickly.) But, I did what I do, and while he picked up sticks and dragged downed trees out of the way, I looked around to see what I might see, like the varnish shelf fungi on a hemlock tree. I questioned myself with this ID because it looked similar to a red-belted polypore, both featuring a glossy lacquer-like sheen and concentric zones of red, yellow and white. But, it grew on a hemlock and I should have snapped an old specimen that was on the ground below. I know if I’m wrong, Parker and Jimmy Veitch of White Mountain Mushrooms and Maine Master Naturalist Alan Seamans will all correct me. If that’s the case, I’ll add a note to this post.

h-Broad gill, more sombero like in nature

I could hear the mushrooms and the mushroom gurus singing praises to the rain gods, given this spring’s rain. And I’m going out on a limb again with broad gill (Tricholomopsis platyphylla) as an ID for this one. (NOTE: from Parker–“The Megacollybia (Tricholomopsis) platyphylla is Entoloma vernum [group])

h-swamp beacon 1

There with others, but my favorite of all–swamp beacons lighting the way through puddles.

h-Holt Pond toward Quaking Bog

At last we made our way to an outlook spot with its view of Holt Pond. Across the way, the quaking bog (where the trees are tallest on the left) and Muddy River outlet (just to the right of those tall trees).

h-into the field

And then we continued through the hemlock forest and on to the field, our turn-around point. Again, we shared memories–of our first reconnaissance mission with Bridie McGreavy when she was LEA’s education director and we decided to take on the task of maintaining the trail. The three of us headed out on a winter day when the snow was deep and soft. Bridie and I were smart–we let my guy cut trail. I’m sure we jumped in front once in a while, but he led the way most of the time and was exhausted by the time we finished. So were we 😉

h-field 1

There were a few years when we drove in from Fosterville Road, making it easier to bring in bigger equipment to keep the field trail open. Today, I counted the whorls on the white pines in order to age them–they’re at least fifteen years old.

h-field pines

And loving this rainy season–as evidenced by their recent growth.

h-sweetfern 1

The field is also full of wild strawberries, raspberries, gray birch and sweet-ferns like this–all early succession species.

h-big tooth leaves

On the edge, young big-toothed aspen are slowly getting established. It’s been our great fortune to watch the evolution from field to forest at this almost hidden gem.


As we backtracked and listened not only to the sweet songs of vireos and veerys, but also to  raindrops sprinkling upon the canopy before drifting down to the understory, we were thankful for our raincoats. A parasol might have been handy, but we weren’t soaked by the time we arrived back at the truck. Somehow, we managed to dodge the drops on our Mondate.