When I invited my guy to join me in a wetland today to mark out a trail, I truly expected him to hem and haw about going. And then when we got there, I thought he’d want to rush through the process and be done with it.
But perhaps it was the setting that slowed him down. I know that it always slows me down.
It’s a place where over and over again I’m surprised to discover that others have come before. Last year, it was bear prints that stopped me in my tracks. Today, bobcat. The print is upside down in the photo, but do you see the pad, C-shaped ridge and four toes heading toward you? Notice that the two front toes are a bit asymmetrical. Ah mud. It’s as good as snow. Though I can’t wait to go tracking in snow.
Another reason that this place slows me down is all that it has to offer. The Winterberries were a major part of our stumbling movement, but still they made me smile even though I had to untwist each foot as I tried to step over, around, and through their woody stems.
Among the mix in the shrub layer was Maleberry, its woody fruits of last year displaying shades of brown, while the newer fruits were tinged green.
And then there was the Nannyberry with its oval shaped fruits so blue upon red stems, and . . .
Withe-rod just a wee bit different shape that always makes me question my identification.
Rhodora also showed off its woody structure of last year embraced by this year’s softer fruiting form.
But what we really sought were little gems of red hiding among sedges in a different herbaceous layer.
I totally didn’t expect my guy to develop cranberry greed quite the way he has a penchant for blueberries, but he did. And he also rejoiced in eating the tart berries right off the stem. Even he commented that the little balls of red were like the blue-gold he usually sought during the summer.
Seriously, it got to the point where I gave up picking, and cranberries are much more my thing than blueberries. And I began to focus on other shades of red, like those that the Pitcher Plants loved to display.
The pattern on the Pitcher leaves always makes me think of the Tree of Life. But . . . equally astonishing are the hairs that coat each pitcher. If you rub your fingers down into the urn-like leaf, you can feel the hairs and gain a better understanding of them creating a landing strip for insects. The true test, however, comes when you dare to escape this carnivorous plant. Can you climb out of the leaf? The way out is sticky and rough and by tracing a finger upward, its suddenly obvious why insects can’t find their way out.
Equally unique, the flower structure that remains, waiting to share its 300+ seeds to the future. For now, it reminds me of a windmill on the turn.
My guy wasn’t as taken with the Pitcher Plant as I was. And he certainly didn’t care about the fact that a Funnel Weaver spider had recently taken up home among the plants urn-like leaves. But me . . . I was totally wowed. Why did a spider that likes to wait in its funnel tunnel until something landed on the net it had created, use a carnivorous plant as its home base? Did it have an agreement with the plant? I’ll bring you food if you don’t see me as food? And was that dark V-shape on the web a leg of one devoured?
With no spider in sight, I knew I’d have to let my questions go, but still . . . it was a mosaic web worth appreciating.
The Pitcher Plant grew on the edge . . . of an Arrowhead wetland . . .
growing beside a Sphagnum Moss peat bog.
And as I walked among it all, I felt the bog quake below my feet.
The pom-pom mosses were responsible for the environment in which we travelled . . . and for its inhabitants.
And because of the Sphagnum the cranberries grew. Abundantly.
Our movement continued as my guy wanted to find as many little red balls of tart glory as ever. And in the midst, the natural community came to focus on Devil’s Beggarstick.
Notice the spines along the seed’s structure.
The beggars chose to stick indeed. Volunteers. They hoped we’d move them on to another place, but we chose to pull each one off . . . Not an easy task.
At last it was time for us to take our leave. And so we found our way out as we’d come in, but felt like crowned royalty for all the finds we’d made, so many of them featuring a shade of red.
In the end, a look back was a look forward. We sought red and so should you—head to your favorite cranberry bog as soon as possible for the fruits await your foraging efforts. And wherever you go, don’t share the location with others. It’s much more fun to have a secret spot as you seek red.