The theme of the week didn’t dawn on me immediately, but a few days into it and I knew how blessed I am.
It all began when this young man and I went on a treasure hunt Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t actually take this photo Tuesday because our focus was so much on the leaf litter at our feet that I forgot to pay attention to anything else. We were hunting for a rare plant and had been given a circle on a map to consider. We knew we were in the right place. But still it evaded us.
There were others to admire, however, such as the upturned form of the fertilized Indian Pipes. and Rhyan Paquereau, Greater Lovell Land Trust’s new Land Steward, and I didn’t really mind that we couldn’t spot the plant of our attention because we enjoyed the quest. As well as the opportunity to explore off trail together. I gave thanks that I get to work with this young man and learn from and bounce off of him about the wonders of the natural world.
A day or two later I headed out to the same property with docent Parker Veitch, who also happens to own White Mountain Mushrooms. He was the one who’d noticed the plant and drawn the circle on the map. Again, it was into a beech/oak/hemlock forest that we hiked and focused upon leaf-filled depressions.
Exactly where Rhyan and I had tramped previously, Parker showed me the plant of intention and I realized the mistake we’d made previously. I hadn’t paid complete attention to Parker’s note and the wee structure was no longer in flower, but had gone to seed. It was a lesson learned. As often happens, once my eyes and mind understood the location and features, it was everywhere. But wait, Three Birds Orchid, Triphora trianthophora, is listed as S2 in Maine: Imperiled in Maine because of rarity (6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals or acres) or because of other factors making it vulnerable to further decline.
As good as the find was, however, and we found more Three Birds than we could count, was a chance to spend time hiking and talking with this young man. Not only did we catch up for we hadn’t had an opportunity to share the trail in a while, but also to ponder questions such as what are the characteristics of an old growth forest. We looked at the canopy, saplings, and ground. The land hadn’t been cut as far as we could tell for there were no stumps. But when we tried our best to age the trees, we realized there is so much more for us to understand.
And then there were glacial erratics thrown into the mix and we knew we were in over our heads.
That didn’t stop us from appreciating their place in the forest. Or . . . the forest’s place upon the rock island.
One of our final discoveries before departing was a Beech Drop that had twisted and turned and grown into a downed branch. I gave thanks that I got to hike with this young man and learn from and bounce off of him about the wonders of the natural world.
Later that same day I met with this group, Dan, Jon, and Mary, all members of Bridgton’s Pondicherry Park Stewardship Committee. We walked the trails, made a few tweaks, considered some issues, and once again I gave thanks for these were three more young people in my world who care about and for the natural world.
And then today dawned. Like icing on the cake, or Witherod fruits upon the leaf, it was one I looked forward to for I’d been honored to receive an invite to help a young naturalist celebrate her birthday. She asked two of us to join her this morning and we were both tickled for the opportunity.
Her eyes, like those of Rhyan and Parker and Dan and Jon and Mary, are big and constantly seeking.
Like them, she knows that her wings may get tattered, but . . .
that will never stop her need to gain more knowledge, much like the Silver-bordered Fritillary sought nectar.
Other times, she’ll take on the attitude of a Katydid and just do it, whatever “it” might be–as it relates to the natural world.
She knows that sometimes there will be hangups just when she thought she had life figured out.
But always I suspect she’ll seek creative and colorful solutions.
At the end of the day, she may feel like she’s dangling by a spider’s thread because sometimes that happens.
But always, there should be Bullfrog and Green Frogs in her mind’s eye and memories of them running across lily pads to view like reruns any time life drags her down. Oh, and a Ruffed Grouse that refused to be photographed.
Today was the day that Alanna and I were invited to join another and so we joined together and wove a head wreath and a talking stick as memories.
And celebrated this young woman, Hadley.
Before we departed, the three Musketeers posed for a photograph in honor of Hadley’s birthday. But really, as I know she’ll appreciate, this week was more than celebrating Hadley.
It was a week for me to realize how important all the young people in my life mean, from our sons whom I can chat with on the phone to those who have chosen to make this area of western Maine their home and to get to know their place in it. And then to go beyond and share it in a way that benefits the wider community.
Thank you, Hadley, for the opportunity to celebrate your birthday. And thank you Rhyan, Parker, Dan, Jon, Mary, Brent (whom I didn’t get to photograph), and Alanna: it’s my utmost pleasure to share the trail with you whenever we can. And to know that the future is in your capable hands.
Likewise, I don’t mean to snub Erika, Pam and Bob K, David P, Basil D, and Susan W, with whom I’ve also shared the natural world this week, but I know that you all also appreciate all these young people.
We are all blessed. Today we crowed Hadley, and in so doing, gloried so many others.