Aha. So our Mondates are hardly rare, though we don’t spend every Monday on a hiking date. What, therefore could the title mean?
Follow us down the trail at the Dahl Wildlife Sanctuary in North Conway, New Hampshire, and I think you’ll soon understand. The property is owned by NH Audubon and located adjacent to LL Bean, though the parking is in a tiny lot across from Burger King on Route 16.
It’s not a long loop, but it’s chock full of wildflowers like the Black-eyed Susans beginning to burst open into rays of sunshine.
We also passed an abundance of shrubs such as Staghorn Sumac and my mind raced ahead to a future visit with Michael Cline’s book, Shrubs of the Northern New England Forest.
Because we were near the Saco River, part of the loop took us through a Silver Maple floodplain where the trees arched above in cathedral formation.
In the same habitat, but at waist level, Ostrich Ferns grew in their vase-like fashion..
And among them, growth of another kind was apparent for possibly a Tortricid Moth had used the terminal part of the fern’s frond for its larvae to feed and pupate.
Stepping out of the forest and into the sunshine, we suddenly found ourselves beside the Saco River, where we looked north.
And then south. A few kayakers passed by, but for the most part we were alone.
In reality, we weren’t for a solitary Spotted Sandpiper explored the water . . .
and cobbled beach,
where it foraged for insects, small fish and crustaceans.
Silver Maple seeds were not on its grocery list and they sat in abundance along a high water mark, waiting in anticipation . . .
to join their older siblings and create their own line of saplings next year.
After standing at the water’s edge for a bit longer and enjoying the ridgeline view from South to Middle Moat Mountains, it was time to search for the rare finds that brought us to this place.
The first was a clump upon a small sand dune–Hudsonia tomentosa.
One of its common names is Sand False Heather, which certainly fit its location and structure. This mat-forming plant had the tiniest of flowers, but it was by its heathery look that I spotted it. It’s listed as rare and threatened in New Hampshire.
While I only found two clumps of the heather, the second rare plant featured a larger colony.
Paronychia argyrocoma is also listed as rare and threatened in New Hampshire (and extremely rare in Maine).
Also known as Silvery Whitlow-wort, it prefers the ledges and ridges of the White Mountains and . . . gravely bars along rivers. Its whitish green flowers were ever so dainty.
From a side view they were most difficult to see for silvery, petal-like bracts hid their essence.
After those two rare finds, my heart sang . . . a song that had started a couple of hours earlier when my guy and I dined with my college friend, Becky, and her daughter, Megan. Another rare and delightful event.
They say three times is a charm and I certainly felt charmed for this rare type of Mondate.