Passing off a copy of the book, From Grassroots to Groundwater, about how two small Maine towns fought Nestlé and won, was the perfect excuse to head to Brownfield Bog. I told Barb I didn’t mind driving to her home or somewhere nearby to give her the book because I’d then go exploring and she welcomed the opportunity to do the same.
As we began our journey, I asked if she knew Kathy McGreavy. Of course she did. I mentioned that Kathy walks in the bog daily and we might encounter her. Of course we did. Kathy and “her friend” were just coming out after walking their dogs and so we chatted for bit. Our discussion included mention of the sign Kathy made last year as her capstone project for the Maine Master Naturalist Program. It’s an incredible piece of artwork and as she’s learned, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Recently, she discovered that a woodpecker had taken to pecking it and so the bottom is now protected with a piece of plexiglass. Crazy birds.
Eventually, Barb and I said our goodbyes to the McGreavys and walked down the unplowed road where I did warn her about my obsession for stopping frequently to take photos. It began from the start–when we spied the bog through the trees and noticed the contrast of colors and layers.
And then–specks of white were ours to behold.
Pussy willows. Was it too early she wondered. No–in fact, I spotted some a year ago on February 23 at Lakes Environmental Association’s Holt Pond Preserve.
Our next reason to stop–the red and yellow shoulder patch or epaulet providing their name: Red-Winged Blackbirds. Again, Barb asked if it was too early. This time, I referenced Mary Holland for the February 27th entry in her book Naturally Curious Day by Day has this headline: Returning Red-Winged Blackbirds Survive Cold Temperatures and Few Insects. Bingo.
Sometimes our stops were to contemplate our next steps–especially when it came to the water that covered the cobble stones on the road.
But sometimes you just have to go for it. And we did. As the morning continued, we ventured through deeper water and plowed ahead knowing that we would need to dry our hiking boots out when we arrived home.
We found a bird nest and wondered about its creator. We did note some acorn pieces inside, so we think it had more than an avian inhabitant.
And we paused to look at an old beaver lodge. The mud looked recent but none of the sticks were this year’s additions so we didn’t know if anyone was home.
All along, we’d been talking about places we’ve hiked and other topics of interest to both of us. We even learned that we’d both worked in Franklin, New Hampshire, just not at the same time. But speaking of hikes, with her finger, Barb drew a map in the snow and now I have another trail to check out soon with my guy. Should I forget the way, I’ll just reference this map. 😉
Because we were near water, though most of it still frozen, and the temp was high (actually, too high–in fact, it felt HOT as it soared into the upper 60˚s today), we weren’t surprised to find this set of prints created recently by a raccoon. I love the hand-like appearance and opposite diagonal of each two feet. Can’t you just see him waddling through–in your mind’s eye, that is?
Our turn-around point offered an expansive view of the bog. As much as we may have wanted to head out onto it, we sided with caution and kept to the edge of the shore.
On the way back, there were other things to admire as there always is even when you follow the same route: winterberries drying up;
rhodora’s woody seed pods and flower buds swelling;
and the pinecone-like structure created with leaves by a reaction to a chemical released by the larva that allows a gall gnat midge to overwinter on the willows.
And then we stumbled upon a plant neither of us knew. With it’s long stem and curly tendrils, we were sure it was a vine.
Upon arriving home, however, I wondered about the umbel structure that had been its flower and now still held some fruits. A little bit of research and I found it: Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea), which apparently smells rather foul when it’s in bloom and thus attracts carrion flies as its pollinator. Now I can’t wait to return and check it out in the next two seasons. Any excuse to get back there.
At last the time had come to say goodbye to the bog and then goodbye to each other. Thanks Barb, for giving me an excuse to go bogging with you. It was indeed a treat.