A friend and I met this afternoon and ventured forth upon a path that was quite different from those we usually travel. Our finds began as soon as we stepped out of our vehicles.
First there was the White Admiral Butterfly, preparing to puddle with its straw-like proboscis, at the moment curled but ready to extend into the gravely parking area to search for nutrients he might share with a gal.
And after only a few minutes into the woodland habitat, as is its preference, a Northern Pearly-eyed Butterfly fluttered into the scene, and posed–also with its proboscis curled.
Keen eyes of my friend spotted the next mention of wildlife–that of a very young garter snake who slithered across our path and then found a stick upon which to blend into the scene.
There was so much to see, such as a giant burl upon a White Cedar, its growth a consequence of an injury, virus, or fungus, creating a vase-like base enhanced by the tree’s shaggy-lined bark.
The tree’s leaves were as interesting as the bark with scaly leaves offering another texture to the forest.
Occasionally, as we continued, we stumbled upon Indian Pipes in their clustered colonies. Though some were just emerging and had their single flowers dangling low, many had been fertilized and showed off a dash of maturity with upright flowers. Eventually a woody structure filled with dust-like seeds will be produced, though it is doubtful many will germinate and grow into these most interesting plants that lack chlorophyll and depend upon a fungus and tree root to survive. And yet they will.
In the midst of it all, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, Raven, and Bluejays considered our attention and as we practiced using the Merlin App for bird identification, two little brown things flitted here and there. Turns out they were House Wrens with their upright tail feathers and barbed wings, an exciting find for us.
That was, until we met a fungus we couldn’t identify, but could certainly appreciate for its formation upon a couple of Balsam Firs.
It poured forth out of the tree like pancake batter on a Sunday morning.
Further along, where the red and gray squirrels made sure to announce their presence, a lone chipmunk posed for moments on end and so we all stood still, thinking at first its cheeks were full, but then realizing it had elbows reminiscent of favorite aunts’ flabby arms. OK, so maybe we’ve reached that age when such flabbiness gathers despite our efforts to exercise and we’re now trying to find ways to laugh about such features. .
There was so much more to see, including a Purple-fringed Orchid,
and Joe Pye-weed topped with a green iridescent sweat bee.
Our journey was almost over when we spotted a bluet damselfly dining upon a crab spider,
and a Ruby Meadowhawk dragonfly with its straw-colored face pausing upon a boardwalk.
Said boardwalk offered the most abundant selection of species, but there was still more to accumulate on this long weekend. And my friend knew that though our time together had been special, there was still more to rejoice in.
You see, our youngest son and his gal had ventured north from New York City because they could.
And their smiles filled our souls as they took in the sights and sounds and smells of our most delightful western Maine locale.
Eventually, they honored us by preparing a meal, and chuckled as they worked for she slaved over a large pan while he managed the smallest of the collection.
Several times we sat around our new kitchen table, grateful to those who had created it, the dishes and food upon it, and those who at last could gather round it as we’d intended.
Thank you P and M, for heading north from the Big Apple, enjoying the fresh air, sharing talents and gifts and laughter, and just being YOU. And thank you, P.M. for sharing the trail and appreciating the gathering that was happening in our midst.