The Amazing Race–Our Style, episode 2

Even though we’d won the first leg of our Amazing Race adventure, we were disappointed with the start time we received for today’s journey. We couldn’t leave home until 10:24 a.m. But, despite that, we’d read the clue carefully, checked the maps and navigated to the starting point:

a1-cribwork bridge

The world-famous cribstone bridge that connects Bailey Island and Orr’s Island in Harpswell, Maine. Though it may look rickety, it’s stood since 1927 and as far as we knew had only been repaired once–in 2010. The stacked granite blocks are held together only by gravity and allow the tide to flow freely. The bridge was placed on the the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Would we make it across?

a2-Maine Fishermen monument

We did. And continued on to Land’s End, where our next clue awaited by the Maine Fishermen’s memorial. It was also a memorial to my mother, for the only other time we’d been to this place was either before we were married or shortly after and Mom was with us–enjoying most the Land’s End Gift Shop. Today–it was closed for the season. It was also a memorial to Dad for he would have told us to fill the innermost recesses of our lungs with salt air. And so we did.

a3a-following the path

Out to the rugged coast of Maine we headed. Just a few days ago, a Nor’easter had made its presence known in these parts and still today the surf spoke to its force.

a3-surfs up 1

Our task–to be mesmerized.

a4-surf's up 2

And to record it in a variety of renditions.

a6-surf's up

And so we did both.

a7-surf's up

Numerous ohs and ahs escaped our lips.

a9-surf's up

And we hadn’t even ventured far.

a9-thunder hole

Finally, we arrived at Thunder Hole and though the wave action wasn’t all that spectacular, we did hear the thunder. Our job–to note which side sounded louder. We chose the left and received our next clue.

a13-on the edge

One of us had to get as close to the surf as possible. And so he did.

a14-surf's up

Together, we needed to appreciate the power.

a15-surf's up

And so we stood.

a16-surf's up

And watched.

a17-surf's up

As water exploded.

a18-continuing on

And then we received our next clue–to move on to the next spot.

a20-Giant's Stairs 1

The Giant’s Stairs.

a21-giant's stairs

The blocky formation earned it the whimsical name of the Giant’s Staircase many years ago. We were reminded of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and prior to arriving wondered if it might look the same. It didn’t, but every giant leaves his own mark on the world. Fortunately, we didn’t need to climb down for today’s challenge–just to acknowledge it. Which we did with pleasure. It seemed only the waves were allowed to ascend and immediately descend–so quick was their exit.

a22-rainbow 1

Having accomplished that leg of the race, we next needed to spy five rainbows. One.

a22-rainbow 2

Two.

a22-rainbow 3

Three.

a22-rainbow 4

Four.

a22-rainbow 5

Five.

a25-ocean spray

Task done. And then my guy had to tell me when to take a shot for dramatic effect.

a26-wave explosion

He nailed it.

a28-devil's back

We were feeling good about our position when our next clue told us to eat locally so we grabbed sandwiches at “BIGS,” aka Bailey Island General Store and Eatery. And then we headed to our next destination located on Orr’s Island–Devil’s Back. The name was curious to us, but the trail system is located on either side of Route 24, which apparently is known locally as Devil’s Back. It does form an obvious spine between the two sides of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust property.

a30-cedars

Winds had wreaked havoc mainly on the Gun Point Cove side where we walked all of the trails first.

a32-cedars

And then we slipped across the spine or Devil’s Back to the Long Cove side. Curiously, the land trust describes the forest here as being mixed, but mostly I noted evergreens including cedars like these, spruce, fir, and pine, with a few maples and paper birch in the mix. I suppose it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

a33-U turn

As we were cruising along, we did get U-turned. It happens on the Amazing Race and was to be expected because we had been in the lead for so long.

a34-folds

And so we had to recall the folds of the rock along Casco Bay. By looking at the angle, our eyes began to see the metamorphic rock turned on its side due to intense pressure in its long-term history and understood that over time various pressures and results of heating and cooling events caused the variation in color and mineral size of the bands. We could also see the arc the folds created that had since eroded.

a34-polypody fern

An easy one for us (well, me anyway) was to identify the fern that grew on the rocks along the Long Cove side of Devil’s Back–Common Polypody it was.

a34-sausage-shaped boudins

And then there was the geologic formation–an igneous dike (lighter color) that cut across the metamorphic rock created we believed by the pinching and swelling from compression and shearing to the Northeast that formed sausage-shaped boudins.

a34-starburst lichen

And we had to name that lichen–sunburst with deep orange disks of its fruiting body or apothecia. Again, we were feeling kinda confident, but one never knows in a race such as this.

a34-stone wall

Our final U-turn challenge was to locate a stone wall–and we did. Island style is so much different from inland style.

a35-fairy home

We thought we were done, but discovered we still had a couple of more challenges to complete. The first was to locate two whimsical sites–in keeping with the Giant’s Stairs. And so we found a fairy house.

a35-octupus

And an octopus.

a38-Cundy's Harbor

Our last challenge before we headed to the mat–to locate two American flags blowing in the breeze at Cundy’s Harbor. Bingo. One.

a40-American Flag

And two.

a5-getting wet

At last we arrived at the mat and much to our surprise–got a wee bit sprayed! But that didn’t matter for we’d beat our imaginary contestants and once again finished first. Our prize from the Gnome and Travelocity–a leftover homemade pizza dinner. That meant we didn’t have to prepare a meal when we arrived home on this Mondate. Yippee.

The Amazing Race–Our Style: episode 2. Check back in with us in April to see what challenges we’ll face next.

 

 

 

 

Wondermyway Celebrates Third Anniversary

Three years ago this journey began as a quiet entry into the world of blogging, of sharing my finds and questions found along the trail. And ever so slowly, you joined me to wander and wonder.

So really, today is a celebration of you, for I give thanks that you’ve continued to follow and comment and wander and wonder along, whether literally or virtually.

I absolutely love to travel the trail alone and do so often. But I also love hiking with my guy and others because my eyes are always opened to other things that I may have missed while hiking on my own.

I’m blessed with the community of naturalists with whom I’m surrounded–and this includes all of you for if you’re following along and taking the time to actually read my entries, then you share my interest and awe. And you may send me photos or I may send you photos and together we learn.

t6-cecropia cocoon

Just yesterday, while tramping in Lovell, Maine, with fellow trackers, I spotted a cocoon  dangling from a beech tree. My first thought–Cecropia moth, but I contacted Anthony Underwood, a Maine Master Naturalist who has great knowledge about insects, and learned that I was wrong. He said it looked more like the cocoon of a Promethea moth. “They hang down whereas Cecropia are usually attached longitudinally,” wrote Anthony. And there you have it.

Now I just have to remember it, which is part of the reason I value my post entries. The information has been recorded and I can always plug a key word, e.g. Promethea, into the search bar and today’s blog will come up–jogging my memory.

And so, without further ado, I present to you my favorites of the past year. It’s a baker’s dozen of choices. Some months, I had difficulty narrowing the choice to one and other months there was that one that absolutely stood out. I hope you’ll agree with my selection. I also hope that you’ll continue to follow me. And if you like what you read here, that you’ll share it with your families and friends and encourage others to follow along.

February 23, 2017:  Knowing Our Place

h-muddy-river-from-lodge

Holt Pond is one of my favorite hangouts in western Maine on any day, but on that particular day–it added some new notches to the layers of appreciation and understanding.

March 5, 2017: Tickling the Feet

CE 3

I don’t often write about indoor events, but while the rest of the world was out playing in the brisk wind of this late winter day, a few of us gathered inside to meet some feet.

April 22, 2017: Honoring the Earth

h-spotted sallie 2 (1)

It would have been so easy to stay home that night, curled up on the couch beside my guy while watching the Bruins play hockey. After all, it was raining, 38˚, and downright raw. But . . . the email alert went out earlier in the day and the evening block party was scheduled to begin at 7:30.

May 21, 2017: On the Rocks at Pemaquid Point

p16-fold looking toward lighthouse

Denise oriented us northeastward and helped us understand that we were standing on what is known as the Bucksport formation, a deposit of sandstone and mudstone metamorphosed into a flaky shist. And then she took us through geological history, providing a refresher on plate tectonics and the story of Maine’s creation–beginning 550 million years ago when our state was just a twinkle in the eyes of creation.

June 9, 2017: Fawning with Wonder

p-fawn 2

Though fawning is most oft used to describe someone who is over the top in the flattery department (think old school brown nose), the term is derived from the Old English fægnian, meaning “rejoice, exult, be glad.”

July 3, 2017: Book of July: Flying on the Wild Wind of Western Maine

d-skimmer, yellow legged meadowhawk, wings

My intention was good. As I sat on the porch on July 1st, I began to download dragonfly and damselfly photographs. And then the sky darkened and I moved indoors. Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, the wind came up. Torrential rain followed. And thunder and lightening. Wind circled around and first I was making sure all screens and doors were closed on one side of the wee house and then it was coming from a different direction and I had to check the other side. Trees creaked and cracked. Limbs broke. And the lightening hit close by.

August 6, 2017: B is for . . .

b-bye

Our original plan was to hike to the summit of Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch today,  following the White Cairn trail up and Stone House Trail down. But . . . so many were the cars on Stone House Road, that we decided to go with Plan B.

September 15, 2017: Poking Along Beside Stevens Brook

s22-cardinal flower

Raincoat? √

Notecards? √

Camera? √

Alanna Doughty? √

This morning I donned my raincoat, slipped my camera strap over my head, and met up with LEA’s Education Director Alanna Doughty for our reconnaissance mission along Stevens Brook in downtown Bridgton. Our plan was to refresh our memories about the mill sites long ago identified and used beside the brook.

October 5, 2017: Continued Wandering Into the World of Wonder

i-baskettail, common baskettail 1

May the answers slowly reveal themselves, while the questions never end.

November 24, 2017: Black Friday Shopping Extravaganza

b8-the main aisle

At last, I’d raided enough aisles. My cart was full to the brim and my brain overwhelmed. I guess I’m not really a “shop-til-you drop” kind of gal. It was time to wind along the trail and end my Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

December 29, 2017: Oh Baby!

s-screech owl 2

We shared about ten minutes together and it was definitely an “Oh baby!” occasion. But there was more . . .

January 21, 2018: Sunday’s Point of View

p17-Needle's Eye

We arrived home with ten minutes to spare until kickoff.

February 8, 2018: Hardly Monochromatic

p18-Stevens Brook

My world always takes on a different look following a storm and today was no different.

To all who have read thus far, thanks again for taking a trip down memory lane today and sticking with me these past three years. I sincerely hope you’ll continue to share the trail as I wander and wonder–my way.

And to wondermyway.com–Happy Third Anniversary!

 

Climbing Higher Mondate

The old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, ” could be aptly applied to the first part of today’s hike for we’d tried to locate the Millard Chandler Feldspar Mine (aka North Star Mine) in Evans Notch two weeks ago but missed a turn along the way. This time, we made sure to pay close attention as friends had given us specific directions.

e1--making the left turn at the National Forest Boundary

As they’d told us, we remembered to turn left at the National Forest boundary and followed the line to the base of the mountain, breaking trail all the way.

e2-first ice formation

Eventually, we realized we were on an old cart path and followed as it zigzagged up. And then we reached a boulder covered in ice. Don’t get me wrong–I love the relationship of rock and ice, but . . . was this what we’d climbed up to see?

e3-looking for more

My guy peeked around the corner and encouraged me to follow.

e4-climbing higher

The first rock with ice was a tease and he could see what he thought was the mine up above. And so we climbed higher.

e6-mine 2

Voilà. At last we found the actual mine. Can you see my guy? His height provided perspective.

e7-sense of height

He stood in awe before the fountain of youth frozen in time.

e9-looking upward

My eyes were drawn skyward to the chandeliers that dangled above. My guy did urge me to move out of the way for he feared one might come crashing down.

e14-chandelier

But I took one more photo before heeding his words of caution.

e15-fallen ice

We noted that some had fallen previously and sat like broken glassware upon the mine floor.

e10-icicles up close (snowfleas as well)

Even the snowfleas or spring tails wanted to be part of the display. Do you see them? The little specks that look like black pepper?

e11-dike 1

I was so taken with the ice sculptures that I almost forgot about the mine itself. Millard Chandler was a descendent of one of the founding families of Chatham, New Hampshire, where the mine is located. Originally, it was mined for mica. From a Geological Survey Professional Paper, I learned that prior to World War II it was mined for feldspar by the Whitehall Company, Inc.

e12-icicles

Today, the only mining that took place was initiated by the water and we could hear it trickling under the ice.

e16-christmas fern

It seemed, however, that there wasn’t enough water as a Christmas Fern struggled to survive.

e13-junco prints

Finally, we followed the Junco tracks and made our exit.

e19-leaving the mine

It was almost like a different world awaited us outside the mine.

e21-Leach Link Trail sign

From there we drove back down Route 113 to Stone House Road and ate a quick lunch in my truck before heading to the trailhead for the Leach Link Trail that follows Cold River.

e22-bear claw marks

It seems like every time we visit this area we find evidence of the bears who live here. Notice the nail marks on the sign. Typical behavior for a black bear–to attack something in the woods that is different than the norm. Not only do they like telephone poles, but trail signs often take a beating as well.

e23-hemlock crack

Again, we had to break trail, which we took turns doing because the snow was deep enough to tire us out. For the most part, we passed through a hemlock and spruce forest. I’m always amazed at how a hemlock tree tries to heal a wound left by a frost crack. Just like my snow pants absorb the sun’s heat, the dark bark of the trees also absorb sunlight, but they don’t have a heated home to return to once night falls and temperatures plunge. I understand how the constant thawing/freezing cycle creates cracks–but I don’t understand why the hemlock portrays the squiggly line, while frost cracks on other trees tend to be much straighter. Then again, all tree species have their own patterns and idiosyncrasies. Maybe I just have to accept that this is the way it is. And move on.

e23-snow aprons

We did. But I stopped our forward movement again. Snow had piled high at the base of the trees following the two snowstorms we received this past week. At first, it appeared that the aprons the trees wore were on the north side. But then, in one grove it seemed obvious that my theory had been proven wrong for some aprons faced west and others east. Oh well.

e26-chester dam

Just over a mile later we reached the Chester Memorial Bridge by the AMC camp. The bridge was given in memory of Mabel Chester, one of the camp’s founders.

e27-Cold River flowing south

Cold River flowed south below the dam. And we turned east.

e29-My guy at the summit

We hadn’t intended to, but ended up hiking to the summit of Little Deer Hill. Our visit was short because it was there that the northwest wind slapped our faces and tried to whip off our hats.

e29-Baldfaces

A few photos and then we quickly descended back into the forest, where we couldn’t feel the wind’s force to the same degree. We practically ran as we followed the trail we’d previously carved.

e30-stop ahead

It seemed like time passed quickly as we reached the snowmobile trail once again and saw the sign reminding us to stop ahead. The truck was parked near the trail’s stop sign and our trip was done.

e5-mine 1

We enjoyed the afternoon hike, but as we reflected on our day, it was the mine that will stand out most in our minds. Thanks to Linda, Miriam, and Dave for providing us with the incentive to visit and correcting our directions.

Climbing higher on this Mondate was certainly worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

Whetting Our Apatite

Our hunger is never satisfied each time we gather. We always manage to see more, share more and learn more because of our combined knowledge. We also always come away with questions. And so it was this afternoon when about ten of my Maine Master Naturalist Lewiston classmates and I gathered with two of the programs founders, Dorcas Miller and Fred Cichocki, to explore a public park in Auburn, Maine.

a1a-looking at trees

From the get go, we bounced back and forth along the trail to look at the idiosyncrasies of trees and chat about the book, A Beginner’s Guide to RECOGNIZING Trees of the NORTHEAST.

a1-red maple target fungus

And as they should, teachable moments kept presenting themselves, including a prime example of the bull’s eye target fungus on red maple bark. Suddenly, those who hadn’t quite seen the target in an earlier specimen had the opportunity to meet it and I trust they will recognize it going forward.

a2-slime mold

As much as we zigzagged down the trail, we also bounced off of each other as we shared our knowledge. Because we all suffer from Nature Distraction Disorder, and have the tendency to travel at a slower than slow pace, it was no surprise that a stop to look at a fungus closer to the ground meant that one of us noticed a slime mold in the crevasses of pine bark. A poke with a finger nail and the spores oozed out.

a2a-approaching the mines

There were mosses to look at. Ferns to recognize. Lichens to question. And a trench that probably had been used to drain water back in the day.

a3-Dr Fred

Just beyond the trench, the star of the show took over. Dr. Fred was in his element as he reviewed the geological history of this place.

a21

And when he talks, we listen.

a4- Greenlaw quarry 1

We had come upon the first of the quarries, where feldspar had been mined in the early 1900s for porcelain. But, as Fred explained, while mining the feldspar, rare and unusual minerals had been discovered including a phosphate mineral called apatite.

a6a-Maine Feldspar Quarry

From there, we circled down and around and looked across at the Maine Feldspar Quarry.

a6-Maine Feldspar quarry

We learned from Fred that the wall of the feldspar quarry was a demonstration of light-colored pegmatite just above the water, topped by gray metamorphic rock.

a8-basalt dyke

Next, we encountered a fractured wall of fine-grained basalt–an igneous vein that formed a dyke.

a9-basalt:iron

Basalt is fine-grained due to the molten rock cooling too quickly for large mineral crystals to grow. Typically, it’s gray to black in color with rust from iron oxidation.

a12-another quarry

From there we moved on to another quarry, where our attention was not so much focused on the rocks as on other things.

a13-squirrel cache

For deep within, we spied several red squirrel caches and dining tables. Later, we watched a chipmunk take advantage of the squirrel’s work. Minerals aren’t the only gems of choice at this place.

a14-labyrinth

As we made our way around to a quarry dump, we discovered a labyrinth that made its way around the pine trees. I followed it to the center–struck by the fact that we were examining rocks dating back to the Carboniferous period, and I was walking a path based on an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years. Time. Worth a wonder.

a15-tourmaline 1

In the dump field, we scattered about looking for souvenirs and then paused at a boulder to examine its offerings.

a16-tourmaline crystal

On the back side, Fred pointed out several depressions where tourmaline crystals had been discovered and removed. We were awed.

a20-graphic granite

There was so much to see from milky and smoky quartz to feldspar, mica and garnet, but my favorite find was more graphic.

a17-graphic granite

Graphic granite–a pegmatite of igneous origin that splits in such a way to make it look as if stories have been expressed with a fountain pen. In this case, I was sure the story was about birds flying over mountains.

The quarries were our turn-around point. We had begun our adventure with plans to visit them quickly, then explore the outer trails of the park, but as we knew would happen, two and half hours later we’d only made our way to the quarries and it was time to head out because the sun was sinking.

That didn’t matter for happy were we to spend time exploring together and whetting our naturalist appetites at Mount Apatite.

 

Noyes Mountain Mondate

Yesterday was Father’s Day and so I asked the question first, “Where are we hiking tomorrow?” My intention was that it would be a gift for him to choose. But only moments later I announced that I had a suggestion–he didn’t have to accept it, of course.

I’d learned that the Western Maine Foothills Land Trust had cut a trail at the Noyes Mountain Preserve in preparation for their 30th Anniversary in July. And since one of our recent Maine Master Naturalist grads, Kelly Hodgkins, now works for the land trust and used this mountain for her capstone project, I wanted to visit it.

So much for letting my guy choose. But he appreciated the thought and agreed on our destination. And so mid-morning today, we drove to Greenwood–the birthplace of LL Bean. We honored him well for our hiking pants, boots and bag were all Bean products.

Kelly had told me to follow Richardson Hollow Road for 1.5 miles and then to look for a small parking lot on the left. We located it easily, but parked on the road instead because a few vehicles were in the spot. Apparently we weren’t the only ones eager to make the climb despite the mugginess of the day. We actually met the parties as we headed up and they descended. People and dogs–all sporting smiles.

n-field

A mowed path crossed the field where daisies and buttercups and hawkweed grew among the grasses. We began to develop a sense of the land’s former use, especially as we spied stonewalls through the trees.

n-trail flags

And then we moved into a hardwood forest and the upward climb began. Kelly had warned me that the trail was rough cut, but flagged. And a gentleman on the way down said they’d gotten off track for a bit when they didn’t make a turn because they were looking down and missed the flagging. Thanks to that word of caution, we made sure to always look for the next piece of tape and had nary an issue.

n-striped maple samaras

I looked down as well. That’s where I saw striped maple samaras maturing as they rested upon a leaf,

n-narrow beech fern

a narrow beech fern arched over the ground, with its lowest pinnae unconnected by wings as those above it and drooping downward,

n-common fleabane 2

and common fleabane sending forth cheerful rays of lavender from its composite disk.

n-American toad

I was actually surprised to only meet one young American toad as it seemed a place where the ground should have been hopping with many more.

n-red-belted polypore on red pine

On a red pine snag a red-belted polypore looked a bit old and tired.

n-ledge on trail

And then suddenly, the community changed and we faced a moss-covered ledge where the trail turned to the left.

n-lady's slipper

When the trail widened a bit, we noticed a frame and realized it was meant to protect the lady’s slipper within. And so we bowed and curtseyed in her honor.

n-lady's slipper spider

That’s when we realized we weren’t the only ones paying attention–perhaps the spider wanted to see if the slipper fit.

n-northern crane's-bill 2

Again, we continued to climb, but noted that the community changed again and we were in the land of evergreens and blueberries as we reached for the summit. A flower I wasn’t familiar with kept asking to be noticed–and so I did and later keyed it out to be a northern crane’s-bill.

Then we saw a path not cleared, but with a tag wrapped around a tree limb. And another beyond that. Should we follow it? It looked like it led to the ledges that were supposed to offer a view. We decided to stay on the trail with dangling tape, though as it dipped downward and to the right we questioned our decision–until it swung around to the left and we realized we were possibly looping around. We hoped.

n-lady corporal dragonfly

It was along that section that the corporals joined us, in this case the browner version, which is a female.

n-American emerald 2

And an American emerald dragonfly, with its metallic green eyes and a narrow yellow ring around the base of its abdomen, took time out from hunting duties to pose. Speaking of dragonflies, while we celebrated their presence, we also noted that there were no mosquitoes. A few deer flies sang in our ears. Was it the wind that kept the mosquitoes away? There were certainly wet spots here and there on the mountain.

n-honeysuckle fruit

Our wonders continued with the red fruit of swamp-fly honeysuckle and . . .

n-twinflowers

a sweet patch of twinflowers.

n-my guy at the ledge

And then, about an hour after we’d started, we stepped into a small clearing with a view. Well, you know who got there first and was waiting when I arrived.

n-ledge view

While he looked at Norway Lake (Lake Penneseewassee), I looked around at the plants that grew there as more dragonflies darted about.

n-staghorn sumac

The summit offerings included staghorn sumac and . . .

n-pink corydalis

pink corydalis, plus yellow hawkweed, yarrow and others I can’t remember now.

n-trail to quarry

When we were ready to leave, we noticed more orange flagging and another trail leading down. So . . . we followed it.

n-climbing down to quarry

We could see the ledge above, but weren’t sure what was in store for us next.

n-climing lower to quarry

The rock face was steep and had a certain look to it, as if it had been worked.

n-mountain crane's-bill

Rounding the final corner, we both knew what to expect, but first, another flower. There were many flowers on that spur trail and I knew I had to save them for another day. But this one stood out against the rock face and strongly resembled the northern crane’s-bill I’d spied occasionally on the way up. If my ID is correct, this species is a mountain crane’s-bill.

n-quarry wall

And we were in the Harvard Quarry. According the Western Foothills Land Trust page about the preserve, “Historically the land, which is in Greenwood, was owned by the Stevens family and included a through road north to from Norway to Greenwood (from the Upton Brothers Road to the Hayes Road). In 1869 Ethel Stevens sold the land to Isaac Noyes.

Isaac Noyes became interested in the site’s pegmatitic outcroppings in the late 1880′s. In 1892 the ledge was opened for the first time and became a mecca for scientists and collectors alike, offering one of the most complex mineralized pegmatites in Maine. Mineral operations on the mountain were opened by Isaac’s 6th cousin George Lorenzo (“Shavey”) Noyes and Tim Heath about 1894. Tourmaline was first recorded from the locale about 1904 and over the years the green color found at this location has become known as “Harvard Green.”

The granite pegmatites Noyes collected were largely preserved and passed into the possession of the Harvard Museum, together with the lease of the property, in 1917. In the summer of 1923 active quarrying was undertaken by the Harvard Mineralogical Department under the supervision of Harvard University student Kenneth K. Landes for Landes’ dissertation, Paragenesis of the Granitic Pegmatites of Central Maine (American Mineralogist, 1925, v. 10, p. 355-411). Loren B. Merrill of Paris and Arthur Valley undertook most of the actual excavation for Landes at the site.

Currently Frank Perham owns the 1-acre Harvard quarry, which remains open to the public in addition to mineral rights on 60 acres.”

The site is also mentioned in A Collector’s Guide to Maine Mineral Localities.

n-dyamite box from mining history

It all began to make sense for toward the beginning of the spur we saw a steel box in the woods–perhaps it once held dynamite for the mining operation. And within the quarry were old tires and hoses. All relics that I hope will remain for they tell the story.

n-rock face

And on the rock face, I saw a face of one who will watch over all to make sure those relics never leave. (Unless the land trust thinks otherwise, that is.) Do you see it? There’s an eye with eye lashes, a bulbous nose and an angular chin.

We didn’t stay long because thunder rumbled and we knew strong winds and rain were in the forecast.

As we skidaddled down the mountain, we gave thanks to Kelly for sharing the location with us and for the future programs she’ll plan so others may appreciate this place. And we were grateful to the land trust for working hard to protect the land for now and ever.

Our Mondate on Noyes Mountain came to an end as raindrops the size of lady’s slippers splatted against our windshield. We left, however, knowing this place is well worth a return visit–probably more than one.

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Mondate

It’s a game we play every Monday and it begins on Sunday. The first one to ask, “Where are we going to hike tomorrow?” wins. That person doesn’t have to choose the location and therefore can’t be held responsible if it turns out to be a lousy decision. Yesterday, I won. But my guy’s destination was rather vague–the coast, he said.

And so I drove this morning, awaiting directions from him.

4.-Prouts-Neck-map-720x595

After a few interesting turns, our destination: Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine.

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Our journey began at the Ferry Beach parking lot as the tide ebbed. We followed in the footsteps of those who passed before, ever mindful that along the beach our story, like theirs,  would be washed away in a matter of hours.

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But some things stand forever, or so it seems.

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As we walked along, the Jessica Heather and other lobster boats swayed and bobbed at their anchors with pride.

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And at the end of the beach, we followed a well-weathered boardwalk up to the road. Snow fence and walkway seemed to speak to destruction dictated by the sea–though its our experience that neither of these have been replaced in years.

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For a brief stretch by the Black Point Inn, we walked along the road, where we glanced back at our starting point and the mouth of the Nonesuch River. Though the foliage spoke otherwise, the water colors indicated this just might be the Bermuda of the North. Well, maybe.

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But more likely, the post office told the real story–shuttered for the season.

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At the top of the road, we found the next leg of our trip–the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk.

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Prouts Neck features a community of summer “cottages.” One of the most famous among them is the studio of Winslow Homer. In the late 1800s, Homer hired John Calvin Stevens, a Portland architect known for the “Shingle Style,” to transform a carriage house near his parents’ home into a studio and residence. This provided the vantage point and workspace for his paintings from 1884 until he died in 1910. And inspiration. He walked this path daily.

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I’m always fascinated when I realize that our breathe and footsteps mingle with so many who also passed by. They flow in and out with the wind and tide and are forever intertwined.

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Along the walk, we found the rocky coast of Maine,

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where the volcanic rock highlighted by the ocean waters offered layers of stories told with sharp contrasts.

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It’s places like this that I’m forever reminded of my mother who was fascinated by such.

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At times we walked on those rocks, and other times through muck. Given that mud season is upon us, we were thankful for those who’ve added board to the walkway.

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Among the trailside offerings, we spotted the rusty leaves of Northern Bayberry.

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They were often mixed in with the rose hips of beach roses. In the summer, this trail buzzes with pollinators, but for now it’s all a memory. And for me, another memory was evoked–my father eating the rose hips as we walked along the beach in Clinton, Connecticut, during my youth.

My guy and I both grew up along the coast–he on Cape Cod and me in Connecticut. Since then, the forest and mountains have called our names, but whenever we stop by the sea, it shares moments with us–including smells and sounds that feel oh so familiar.

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Part of the memory includes . . .

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waves crashing . . .

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and swallowing up all in their path.

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The substrate changed with the tide along this path and suddenly we found ourselves in a rock garden. And my heart envy announced itself. While I’ve always collected sea glass, others have collected heart-shaped rocks. This seemed like a prime location to find such and so I put my guy on the assignment and was totally amazed that he embraced it.

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Our search turned up a few examples–the first rather angled and reminiscent of a fox’s profile.

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The second more rounded.

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And the third, a more golden presentation.

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The good news about our inspection of life at our feet–the sunshine lichens on the rocks around us.

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Some were abundant with fertile disks.

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And they seemed to appreciate the layers of this seaside location.

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Because we were looking down, we spied other things we may have missed–including this white, segmented structure that reminded me of a fruticose lichen meets seaweed meets coral. My hope is that Maine Master Naturalist and seaweed expert, Davida, will come through for me and ID this one.

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We also found a few stick figures among the offerings.

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As we rounded the corner at Eastern Point, the architecture changed.

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On an equally high spot as Scarborough Beach came into view, we spied a sight we didn’t understand.

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Turns out it was all white rocks. But, how did they get there? Human? Bird? Seriously? We questioned it because the pile was on a spot that neither of us could have accessed, given our fear of heights.

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All along the way, we paused to admire the boarded up summer homes–especially in awe of the architecture noted in those built long ago.

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Almost at the end, this newer castle came into view. We recalled seeing it under construction last year.

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My guy thought he could live in their guest house. For me, a simple sand castle would do.

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At the official end of the trail, we once again stopped to admire the old pump house made of local stone with a colorful slate roof.

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And though we wanted to continue along Scarborough Beach, time was getting away from us and so we followed the road back to our truck.

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Completing the circle, the tide was out on Nonesuch River and we could see someone clamming on the sandbar.

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We didn’t dig up any clams, but we did pick up this stone–a rocky heart that symbolized our Mondate. Prouts Neck was the perfect decision–thanks to my guy.

 

 

 

 

Hiking the West Mondate

How could it be? We realized this past week that we’d only hiked in Sebago Lake State Park together once–thirty years ago. Oh, I’ve skied there, visited friends who were camping, and participated in several eighth grade class picnics back in my public education days.  But today we decided to remedy our hiking opportunity–or lack thereof.

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Our intention wasn’t to camp, but rather to explore the trails that circle around and cut through the 1,400-acre property. For those of you who know my guy, though we certainly haven’t spent a lot of time in the park, he does feel a certain affinity–to the brown stain that the park staff purchases in five gallon buckets from his hardware store. 🙂

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After looking at a map near the entry booth, we headed off on a trail marked with orange blazes. Or so we thought. Until we realized we were following the boundary. But all the orange paint made me think of our young neighbor, Kyan, and as it turns out he was on my brain for a great reason–he’s been in remission for the past six months following his bone marrow transplant and today had his central line removed. No wonder we spent an hour following those orange blazes. All the while, however, we did think the trails were poorly marked.

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Unwittingly, we spotted a bit of brown–on the picnic table. We appeared to be on a high spot, home to the table and a cairn garden.

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I’m of several minds when it comes to cairns. I know that some are historical and symbolic and others mark trails, but these, though each different in sculptural form, bothered me.

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While my guy saw them as offering hikers something to do, I saw them as disruptive to the natural landscape. That being said, the landscape was formed by a glacier and these pieces spoke to the bedrock geology of the Sebago pluton with their pinkish coloration.

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Turns out we were at the summit of the Lookout Trail, the highest point in the park at 499 feet. And behind the cairn park, we found the trail itself, blazed with red triangles, which we followed down to the campground road where we found a map–worth kneeling and worshiping. Well, actually, given the snow depth, that was the easiest way to read it. From that point forward, we found “You Are Here” maps whenever trails intersected, though we did tend to wander off occasionally.

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Over a brook, where balls of ice formed,

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past artist conks decorating a decaying birch tree,

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and through woods featuring the braided ridges of black locust bark, we hiked.

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And then we reached the beach. On Sebago Lake.

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We’d arrived at Witch Cove Beach.

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The wind had kicked up the waves and it felt almost ocean like. Almost.

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Certainly, tree roots beside the lake spoke to wave action and higher tides (no, the lake doesn’t have a tide, but in storms and floods it must surge higher). Beside the water, a red maple and pitch pine tree embraced from their root source.

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The bark of the pitch pine featured its reddish plates surrounded by deep furrows.

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While it’s similar to red pine bark that grows nearby, there are subtle differences–red pine bark being plated but much thinner and tighter to the trunk. Plus, the pitch pine has bundles of three needles, while the red features two needles.

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The other unique characteristic of pitch pines, their epicormic sprouting of needles on the trunk that grow from dormant buds on the bark.

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Eventually, we moved on, leaving prints in our wake.

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Our substrate switched from snow to sand and back to snow, which we much preferred.

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Before we turned away from the beach, we found the sand goddess eyeing the world. Again, we noted the orange and thought of Ky, but didn’t truly realize its significance.

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Into the picnic area we moved, after watching a few deer who eventually flashed their white tails before moving on. Lunch table beckoned us. It needs some fresh stain–there’s job security in that thought–for the park staff and my guy.

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Some tables spoke to the snow depth.

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After we finished our sandwiches, we discovered that others had used the picnic ground–for a cache site. Somewhere in the park, at least one red squirrel prospered through the winter.

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Our journey took us past the glacial kettle formed by the melting of large blocks of ice.

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And then we figured out our final trails to follow.

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We crossed Thompson Point Road and followed the oxbows and meandering of Songo River, which actually proved to be bittersweet. I’d only been on the river twice and both with the milfoil team of the Lakes Environmental Association. As we hiked beside it today, I recognized various points Adam Perron, the milfoil dude had pointed out. Again I say, RIP Adam.

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At last we reached Horseshoe Bog, home to one of those picnic tables needing work. You know who spied it from a mile off.

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He also spied the work of others and eagerly showed me.

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My what big teeth grooves a beaver leaves.

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It left its mark everywhere.

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And sometimes such works met the forces of nature and all was well that ended well.

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The same could be said for us. We began the day on a trail that wasn’t and ended by trying to follow a spur trail out, that we couldn’t quite locate (except for the sign at the beginning that identified it as a spur trail) and so we bushwhacked and then an anomaly caught our eyes–snow on a structure, which turned out to be the entry booth from which we’d begun our expedition.

As it turns out, we realized that our adventure thirty years ago was on the east (Casco) side of the park and this was our first visit to the west (Naples) side. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take us thirty more years to return for another Mondate–indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

The Be-Attitudes Sundate

Today marks the beginning of the season of hope and with that in mind, my guy and I climbed Singepole Mountain in Paris. Paris, Maine, that is.

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Our hike began beside Hall’s Pond, where the water reflected the steel gray sky of this late November day.

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And stonewalls and barbed wire reflected the previous use of the land.

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In a matter of minutes we learned of its present use.

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Everywhere we looked, beaver sculptures decorated the shoreline.

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We passed from the hardwood community to a hemlock grove . . .

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where more beaver activity was evident. I’ve been reading The Hidden Life of TREES by Peter Wohlleben and have some questions about tree girdling such as this. There is a theory that beavers chew off the bark all the way around (girdle) to eventually kill trees such as hemlock, so preferable species will grow in their place. But, that’s thinking ahead to future generations. Do beavers really do that?

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On page 18, Wohlleben states the following: “As the roots starve, they shut down their pumping mechanisms, and because water no longer flows through the trunk up to the crown, the whole tree dries out. However, many of the trees I girdled continued to grow with more or less vigor. I know now that this was only possible with the help of intact neighboring trees. Thanks to the underground network, neighbors took over the disrupted task of provisioning the roots and thus made it possible for their buddies to survive. Some trees even managed to bridge the gap in their bark with new growth, and I’ll admit it: I am always a bit ashamed when I see what I wrought back then. Nevertheless, I have learned from this just how powerful a community of trees can be.”

Could this theory be true? Are the surrounding hemlocks feeding that tree via their roots? If so, does that throw out the other theory? So many questions worth asking.

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Soon, we left the Pond Loop Trail and started to climb the Singepole Trail, passing by a gentle giant.

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It’s a snag now, but this old maple offered tales of the forest’s past and hope for the future.

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On a smaller scale, Downy Rattlesnake Plaintain provided a cheery contrast among the leaf and needle carpet.

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The climb was a bit challenging in places, but we held out hope among the ledges that we might see a bobcat.

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No such luck, but we did find this . . .

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a well used porcupine den.

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Water dripped in constant harmony as we stepped gingerly along the narrow ledges and tucked under overhanging rocks.

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About halfway up, we took a break and paused to admire the view.

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The hardwood and softwood communities became more obvious as we looked down.

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And suddenly or so it seemed, my guy reached the moment of truth–the summit.

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From the top, we looked around and embraced our home place, which appeared on the horizon in the form of Pleasant Mountain.

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A slight turn and the view extended from Pleasant Mountain to the White Mountains.

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Below our feet, the granite pegmatite shared its showy display.

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We’d read that there was a quarry at the summit, so we headed toward a cairn, in hopes of locating it. Too many jeep trails confused us and we decided to save the quarry for another day. Instead, we turned into the woods to get out of the wind and munch our PB & J sandwiches, the grape jelly courtesy of Marita Wiser and family.

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As we poked about, something caught our attention and we moved closer.

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A wickiup frame. We admired the efforts of someone to create this traditional structure.

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Emerging from the woods, we took one last look at Pleasant Mountain, and . . .

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one last view of what seemed to be the summit (though it may have been a false summit).

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And then we started down, once again hugging the rocks and trying not to slip.

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On the way, I did note a few things, including this fungi that looked more flowerlike than mushroom like.

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And I spotted a phenomenon that occurred repeatedly. Girdled beech trees too far uphill for a beaver. What or who had debarked these trees?

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I may have been seeing things that weren’t real, but the lines on this particular tree made me wonder about the porcupines. Was I looking at the design they leave with teeth marks created in the distant past? Or were they wounds of another kind?

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When at last we reached the Pond Trail again, we continued to circle around it, noting more beaver works.

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At last, we found the mud-packed lodge built into the edge of the pond. Here’s hoping for a warm winter within.

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Completing the circle, the biting breeze forced us to walk quickly toward our truck and the end of our hike. We have chores to complete tomorrow so our Sundate may have to suffice for a Mondate.

That being said, in this season of hope, we trust we’ll find more opportunities to consider these be-attitudes:

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Be supportive of each other.

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Be watchful of what’s to come.

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Be hopeful of love everlasting.

On Hands and Knees to Wonder

When I invited Jinny Mae to join me at Loon Echo Land Trust’s Bald Pate Preserve this afternoon, she eagerly agreed. And three hours later, I know she had no regrets. Though we never reached the summit, neither of us cared. Our minds were boggled by all that we had noticed.

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Somehow we managed to beeline our way to the Foster Pond Lookout. And then we slowed down. To a stop.

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And so we got rather personal with the rock substrate as we took a closer look. At lichens. For what seemed like ever, it was thought that lichens were symbiotic life forms consisting of Freddy Fungus and Alice Algae, who took a liken to each other and their marriage formed a single organism. Sometimes, cyanobacteria or blue-green algae was tossed into the mix. The fungus provided shelter (algae can only live where they won’t dry out and so being surrounded by fungal cells meant Alice could live outside of water), while either of the photosynthetic partners, algae or cyanobacteria, produced food from the sun.

It’s no longer just a story about Freddy and Alice living together, however. New scientific research deems another partner in the mix–yeast, which also provides protection. I feel like just stating that puts me way out of my league.

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Our goal wasn’t to understand those relationships per say. We just wanted to spend some time looking and developing an eye to recognize these structures while appreciating their life’s work that often goes unseen.

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Some grow at an especially slow rate–think hundreds of years rather than decades. That in itself, should stop us in our tracks. And yet, as we stand 5+ feet above those that grow on rocks, we hardly notice them.

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The  dark brown fruiting bodies, called apothecia, are where spores are produced and life continues. Walk tenderly, my friends.

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Jinny Mae’s excitement over the toad skin lichen was contagious. Notice its warty projections–much like the skin of an American toad, which varies in color.

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I spied this toad a few days ago, but its skin certainly helps qualify the lichen’s common name.

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If you look in the center, you can see the point where the lichen attached to the rock–the belly button of this particular lichen making it known as an umbilicate lichen.

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And among the favorite finds of the day, Jinny Mae was the first to spy this. It had rained this morning and everything was dry by the time we hiked, but some signs of moisture remained. In this case, it’s wet toad skin contrasted by dry toad skin. If you are willing to give up some water from your water bottle, you can create the same contrast. And note the black dots–its fruiting bodies or apothecia where its spores are produced.

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The more we looked, the more we saw.

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British soldiers were topped by their brilliant red caps–forever announcing their presence.

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Pixie-cup lichen stood like goblets, ready with magical potions.

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Some were filled to the brim and almost overflowed with life.

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We marveled at the green,

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gray,

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and foam-like structure of reindeer lichen. These are treats for reindeer and caribou, neither of which frequent our region except for one night a year.

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And then we looked at the next layer in succession on a rock. Once the lichens have established themselves, mosses move in. Did you ever think about the fact that mosses don’t have flowers, stems or roots? Instead, they feature tiny green leaf-like structures and microscopic hair-like structures. They send their “hairs” into the crevices created by the lichens and anchor themselves to the rocks. Today, we found a moss neither of us remember seeing before.

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To us, it offered a square presentation and we debated its identity. While we thought it may be yellow yarn moss, I’m now leaning toward medusa moss–though their leaf edges are smooth and these are obviously toothed.  Do you know? Which ever it is, we were wowed.

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We finally moved on, hiking to a false summit to take in the western view.

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The late afternoon sun and breeze played havoc with our views, but we eventually reached the rock tripe wall, where common polypody took advantage of the living conditions.

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The lichen covered a ledge, some of it green from the morning rain, but surprisingly much of it still brown. Like the toad skin lichen, rock tripe are umbilicate and attached to the rock at a single point. They reminded me of elephant ears flapping in the breeze.

From there, we headed down. Our pace on the slow side all afternoon.

And sometimes we had absolutely no pace at all, unless you consider the motion (and grunts) as we got down on our hands and knees and even our bellies to take a closer look. It was all worth a wonder. And we did.

 

 

Be Together Mondate

It took us a while to get our act together this morning, but by 10:30 we were finally at the trailhead for the Baldface trails off Route 113 in Evans Notch. Okay, so true confession, I did not want to hike these trails. For thirty years I’ve managed to avoid them, but my guy promised me this morning that if I wasn’t comfortable we could turn back at any point.

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And so our Mondate began.

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The first .7 miles were familiar to us as we’d passed this way many times in the past, often with friends or family in tow. The destination, Emerald Pool. A forever nippy Emerald Pool.

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We stood above the pool today and shared memories of past visits. And the people that made those visits memorable.

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Even the water above the pool provided hours of entertainment in days gone by.

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Today, it was the water’s force and volume, increased since last night’s rain, that gave us pause.

But we couldn’t pause for long. We had a mountain to conquer. And so, we headed back to the main trail and at the junction followed the Baldface Circle Trail . . . until it disappeared before our eyes. We backtracked but couldn’t figure out what we’d done wrong, except that we couldn’t see trail blazes anywhere. And so we retraced our footsteps until the trail petered out again. And then we decided to bushwhack and climb uphill because it only made sense that we’d find our way. At last, success–we found yellow blazes and an obvious trail. But . . . we didn’t know if we were on the Circle Trail or Slippery Brook Trail.

Our plan had been to hike up the first and down the latter. Out came the map and compass and we were fairly sure we were on the latter trail. To be certain, we hiked a wee bit, until we came to the brook. Yup. So, decision time. Turn around and head back to the other trail or continue on because we’d already come so far. We continued on. Plan B when we didn’t even know we had a Plan B.

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And Slippery Brook held its own tribulations. The water–oh how it flowed. It didn’t bother my guy and within seconds he stood on the other side grinning back at me. Meanwhile, I hemmed and hawed. And hawed and hemmed. How in the world? I thought perhaps I should return to Emerald Pool and wait for my guy to complete the round trip. He wasn’t buying that. Neither was I, truth be told. But sometimes my head gets the better of me. He knew that. And so he dropped his pack, took off his boots and sloshed through the cold water to grab my pack.

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I didn’t have a choice. I had to follow him. And so I did. Of course, this guy knows I’ll follow him anywhere.

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We continued on the Slippery Brook Trail and a delightful trail it was. I kept waiting for the bald face to show, but it wasn’t to be. The worst part, if there was one, would be the mosquitoes. It poured last night and the trail was rather wet, but still, it provided a pleasant climb. We paused for lunch beside a stream where the mosquitoes abated.

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One of the things I like about stopping for lunch, besides eating because I’m always hungry, is taking time to notice. Mayflies.

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The deeply impressed veins of mountain maple leaves.

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And u-shaped lobes of sugar maples.

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Dogwood.

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And beech fern.

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Following lunch, we continued to climb and noticed things like the great pretender–a bunchberry posing as a hobblebush flower.

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And moose works carving the greenery.

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At last we reached our halfway point at 3.5 miles. I kept wondering–where is the bald face that I’ve been dreading? The Slippery Brook Trail was a delight, be it long, with no bald rocks in sight.

While we climbed, I’d not only noticed my surroundings but also planned my funeral. I know who I want to conduct the service and he’s out of town this week. I figured that was OK. My guy would just have to delay it for a bit. And I thought about who might come and how the different folks would interact with each other. It’ll be a celebration of life, of course. And people should be encouraged to get outside and notice. Maybe they could go on a group walk.

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And then we followed the Baldface Knob Trail where the yellow clintonia grew in such abundance that my guy actually started to ID it. I’ll make him a naturalist yet. 😉

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Equally abundant were the lady’s slippers.

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And then we met my nemesis. But really, it wasn’t so bad. All that worry for naught. I could do this. If we decided to hike down this way, I would survive.

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At last we reached our first vantage point with the world we normally inhabit spread out beyond.

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It just kept getting better, and cooler and windier–a relief for our sweaty bodies. But . . . the black flies increased significantly. I swallowed a few. All that swarmed must have been males because they didn’t bite. But they certainly were annoying.

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As we approached the top of the Baldface Knob we recognized our neighborhood with Pleasant Mountain in the backdrop.

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A 180˚ panoramic provided half of the picture. I thought I caught the other half, but it’s not to be. South Baldface was behind us and completely doable. We decided to save it for another day because it was getting late and we weren’t certain about the trail before us.

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Among the selections at our feet, chokeberry

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and mountain ash.

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At eye level–a hummingbird moth who moved in supersonic speed.

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And then we followed the path down.

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The world stretched before us

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to infinity and beyond. My guy insisted that parachutes were available at this spot, but they must have been previously claimed because I couldn’t find one . . . anywhere. And believe me, I looked.

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It all seemed so innocent from the top, but really, it was a scramble. A major scramble that lasted a long time until we got back into the hardwood forest. Our footing–precarious and often wet. We both have a fear of heights in open spaces. My guy has forever had such a fear–my own is newly developed and I know not its source. Oy vey. We were in over our heads, but had no choice. I kept thinking about a rescue mission, but I don’t think they show up for those who whine. We practiced our crab walks, slid and skidded and hugged rocks and trees as we made our way down this precarious trail.

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The lichens were beautiful and we got to see them up close and personal. We also practiced our trust jumps. Yup, several times my guy positioned himself to catch me as I jumped. Remember my funeral plans on the way up. I was preparing as we climbed and facing the inevitable as we descended.

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Finally, we were rewarded with a more even trail–sort of–and lady’s slippers.

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About a mile before the trailhead, we followed a spur to Chandler’s Gorge.

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On the way out, I realized I wasn’t the only dirty lady.

Oh, and we found where we zigged rather than zagged at the start of the trail. Honestly though, we both realized that if we’d hiked up the Baldface Circle Trail, we probably would have turned back. So as luck would have it, we went the right way.

Since we were on stable ground, I mentioned my fears to my guy. He admitted he’d had the same. And when I said I was sure we’d both fall when I jumped down and he caught me several times, he said at least we’d be together.

Be together on a Mondate. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

 

Book of May: Lichens of the North Woods

Everywhere we look as we hike (or even drive), be it ground, rock or tree, lichens make themselves known.

b-greenshield

Some are easy to ID even if we are driving 60mph (on the highway, that is), like common greenshield. Others, however, require closer examination and consideration. And that’s why this month’s book is . . .

b-book

Lichens of the North Woods by Joe Walewski. From the get go, it’s another one of those books where it feels like the author is by my side. “Welcome to the Lilliputian world of lichens!” he begins.

Lilliputian indeed! And complex. But Walewski helps the rest of us develop an understanding of such complexity. Through illustrations and photographs, he presents us with Lichen Biology 101. And then he takes us into the field, showing us how to collect and preserve our specimens.

He explains how to use the field guide and then gets into the nitty gritty. I appreciate that the book is divided into the three substrates–ground, rock and tree–though sometimes I need to remember that though the lichen I’ve found appears to be on a rock, it might be listed under ground because the soil has built up over time.

Within each of the three sections, he further divides it by type: crustose (think those lichens that appear to be flat like a crust of bread), foliose (leafy like foliage) and fruticose (branching like grape branches). Common greenshield is leafy–therefore a foliose lichen.

For each lichen, Walewski includes a photograph, description, chemistry, similar species and nature notes.

Finally, there is a glossary, followed by titles of interest, and a list of lichen groups and Web sites.

It’s a small book, measuring 8 x 4.5 and only about a half inch thick, so it’s easy to toss in the backpack.

b-Quill 2

Walewski’s study focuses on Minnesota, but here in the Northeast, we have many of the same varieties.

I’ve encouraged you to develop your bark eyes in the past. This summer, look out! We’re going to work on our lichen eyes. And any puns you wish to share are most welcome 🙂

I found my copy of Lichens of the North Woods at Bridgton Books. Look for it at your independent book store.

Lichens of the North Woods, Joe Walewski, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2007

 

Sharing Our Mondate

My guy and I spent this morning roaming about the woods in Lovell with several friends who are docents for the Greater Lovell Land Trust. We had been invited to explore a 20-acre property and the owners, Barb and Bruce, were in hopes that we’d discover interesting things.

As it turned out we explored much more than their property because we got a bit mixed up with boundary lines, and came away with some questions to ponder about the lay of the land as well as a scavenger hunt for their grandchildren to conquer.

b-red pines

Before we headed off into the woods, Barb wanted us to see a neighbor’s off-the-grid tiny cabin. To get there, we passed through a red pine grove that immediately put me into question mode. Why a grove here? Who planted them? When? I know that the Civilian Conservation Corp did this sort of thing in the 1930s and had been in the area–Stoneham and Bridgton, Maine, as well as Chatham, New Hampshire. But my research didn’t indicate that they’d done any projects in Lovell.

What I did learn, however, is that the farmer who once owned this hilly land may have received a subsidy to plant the trees in order to control soil erosion and turn them into a cash crop. An article in Northern Woodlands states the following: “The government further subsidized red pine seedlings throughout the twentieth century as a way of providing hill farmers with a future cash crop that would grow on otherwise played-out soil. Red pine seemed the perfect candidate for this, as it’s fast growing and susceptible to fewer serious enemies than most pine species. (White pine can be bedeviled by white pine weevil and white pine blister rust – neither of which affect red pine.)

From their size and close proximity to each other, its apparent that the “cash crop” never paid off. Instead, Barb and her husband have a stately cathedral overlooking the mountains and a quiet passageway to visit their neighbor.

We returned from our quick house tour and followed a double-wide stone wall to an opening. Again, we questioned the wall’s purpose. A way to get rid of stones? Did they use the bottom portion of the land below the wall for agriculture and let cows or sheep roam above? We didn’t come up with the answers, but continued on.

b-rock tripe colony

It was time for us to find some treasures that the grandkids can seek. Rock tripe is first on the list.

b-rock tripe

It’s gray-brown upper surface turns dark green when moist–so be sure to bring along some water to pour on this lichen. Then watch the transformation.

Though edible in a last ditch effort by someone who doesn’t mind chewing and chewing and chewing some more, rock tripe is neither delicious nor nutritious. Some Native peoples used it as a soup thickener and others as a last resort tidbit. If you soak it for a while it will soften up.

b-vernal pool

The temperature was cooler this morning than the last few so a skim of ice covered the surface of this vernal pool. I’m not sure how long it will last, but if it’s still there, dip a pail in and look at the assortment of species that swim about. Maybe you’ll even see some frog or salamander egg masses if you visit in the spring.

b-Indian pipe

Here and there we found the pods of Indian pipes. In the summer, look for their ghostly white form–they look like their name, with the flower part hanging down. If it’s turned upright like this one, it has been fertilized.

b-puff balls

Though long since spent, puff balls are another fun find. Poke them and watch the spores float out like smoke from a chimney.

b-wood chips

The pileated woodpeckers love this mixed hardwood forest, so you might find evidence of their work on the floor. And then look up into the tree to locate the cavity they’ve excavated.

b-bird nest 1

We found several bird nests, including this one made of grasses and wiry stems.  A fraction of a blue egg shell sits inside.

b-nest 2, downy feather

Wait until late winter/early spring to search for these, when the wind has blown them to the ground. But leave them be. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, “It is  illegal to collect or have in your possession live native birds (adults or young), bird feathers, nests or eggs, to try to incubate wild bird eggs, to keep nests or eggs even for “show and tell” educational purposes, or to have road-killed birds in your possession without a permit.” Do you know why? Do some research to find the answer.

b-mock orange

There’s a variety of fungi growing on the trees right now, and come summer, you’ll find more on the ground. We had our favorite mushroom guru with us, who helped us ID this species as mock oyster.

b-tinder conk

Tinder polypore is one of my favorites because it looks like a horse’s hoof. Another research project for you–why did the Ice Man carry a sample of this?

b-nurse log

There are numerous nurse logs, but this one struck me as especially beautiful. Mosses and liverworts grow abundantly along its upper surface and provide a place for all kinds of action to happen. Look for small saplings taking hold. Can you find the shelled remains of an acorn or the scales of a hemlock cone? Who do you think left those? Any small, twisted scat?

b-owl pellet

Or how about something that looks like this–lots of hair and bones matted together? This is an owl pellet and with the help of your adults, you can actually pull the bones out and reconstruct the skeleton(s) of the prey–be it vole or shrew or even red squirrel. Sometimes the pellets contain the skeletons of more than one critter.

b-beech growing through paper birch bark

I would love to learn that you found this–a young beech tree growing through paper birch bark. Which came first? And why?

b-barbed3

Another sight for you, and one to certainly watch out for–barbed wire. We found it all along the back boundary, where it grows through the trees. This is rough country and there are no stone walls. The wire probably dates to the 1880s or later. Be careful.

b-dip between eskers?

The land had us wondering about esker ridges as it dipped and rose. We’ll try to ask those who know more about local geology to help us gain a better understanding.

b-gps 2

We realized we’d zigged where we should have zagged, but didn’t care because we share a passion for the exploration.

b-garden wall

As we headed down, we stumbled across another garden wall and

b-stone pile.jpg

small rock piles like this one. My first thought–a well. That was until we found several others. Maybe just rock piles.

b-shinleaf, pyrola eliptica

Our final find as we stepped through a wetland making our way from a neighbor’s property to the road–the winter look of shinleaf (Pyrola elliptic).

I’d promised everyone a two hour tour, but those who know me best know better. Three hours later we knocked on the door to thank Barb and Bruce for the opportunity–for sharing their land with us and giving us the opportunity to share our Mondate with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Sabattus

Following this morning’s Greater Lovell Land Trust trek at Chip Stockford Reserve, where we helped old and new friends form bark eyes as they examined various members of the birch family, my feet were itchy. Not in the scratchy sort of way–but rather to keep moving.

It was a lovely day for a hike and Sabattus Mountain in Lovell was my destination. I love this little mountain because it offers several different natural communities and great views.

s-com 1

Though there are a few softwoods on the lower portion of the trail, it’s really the land of a hardwood mix.

s-downed twigs

About halfway up, the neighborhood switches to a hemlock-pine-oak community. It was then that I began looking for downed hemlock twigs in an array at the base of trees. I’ve found them here before, and today I wasn’t disappointed.

s-porky chew 3

The twigs had been chewed off and dropped by a porcupine as evidenced by the 45˚-angled cut and incisor marks. Though red squirrels also nip off the tips of hemlock twigs, they do just that–nip the tips. Porcupines cut branches.

s-porky cliff

Downed branches usually mean scat, but I searched high and low and under numerous trees that showed signs of activity and found none. A disappointment certainly.

s-pippipsewa

My search, however, led me to other delightful finds that are showing up now that most of the snow has melted, like this pipsissewa that glowed in the afternoon sun. As is its habit, the shiny evergreen leaves look brand new–even though they’ve spent the winter plastered under snow and ice. A cheery reminder that spring isn’t far off.

s-Pleasant 1

At the summit, I got my bearings–the ridge of Pleasant Mountain and Shawnee Peak Ski Area to the southeast.

s-mount tom & kezar pond

To the southwest, the asymmetrical Roche Moutonnée, Mount Tom, visible as it stands guard over Kezar Pond in Fryeburg.

s-Kearsarge 2

And to the west, Kezar Lake backed by Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire. I wanted to venture further out on the ledge, but some others hikers had arrived and I opted not to disturb their peace.

s-summit wind

Instead, I sat for a few minutes and enjoyed the strong breeze offering possibilities as it floated over the summit and me.

s-porky cuts1

Crossing the ridge, I left the trail and found more porcupine trees, including this young hemlock that had several cuts–look in the upper right-hand corner and lower left hand. A number of younger trees along this stretch will forever be Lorax trees.

s-golden moonglow1

On the outcrop of quartz, I paused to admire the golden moonglow lichen–it’s almost as if someone drew each hand-like section in black and then filled in the color, creating an effect that radiates outward.

s-polypody patch

I was pleasantly surprised to find a patch of polypody ferns on what appears to be the forest floor but was actually the rocky ridge. Notice how open-faced it is, indicating that the temperature was quite a bit warmer than what I’d seen on cold winter days.

s-polypody sun

Sunlight made the pinna translucent and the pompoms of sori on the backside shone through.

s-glacial 1

The trail doesn’t pass this glacial erratic, but I stepped over the logs indicating I should turn left and continued a wee bit further until I reached this special spot.

s-porky scat 1

Its backside has been a porcupine den forever and ever. Nice to know that some things never change.

s-hemlocks and oaks

After returning to the trail, I followed it down through the hemlocks and oaks. This is my favorite part of the trail and though it’s a loop, I like to save this section for the downward hike–maybe because it forces me to slow down.

s-fairies 1

For one thing, it features the land of the fairies. I always feel their presence when here. Blame it on my father who knew of their existence.

s-fairies 2

I had a feeling a few friends were home–those who found their way into a fairy tale I wrote years ago. I left them be–trusting they were resting until this evening.

s-community transition 1

As swiftly as the community changed on the upward trail, the same was true on my descent.

s-birch bark color

On our morning trek, we’d looked at paper birch, but none of the trees we saw showed the range of colors like this one–a watercolor painting of a sunset.

s-birch bark 1

This one shows the black scar that occurs when people peel bark. The tree will live, but think about having your winter coat torn off of you on a frigid winter day. Or worse.

s-black birch 1

Off the trail again, I paused by a few trees that I believe are black birch. Lately, a few of us have been questioning black birch/pin cherry because they have similar bark. The telltale sign should be catkins dangling from the birch branches. I looked up and didn’t see catkins, but the trees may not be old enough to be viable. This particular one, however, featured birch polypores. So maybe I was right. I do know one thing–it’s not healthy.

s-pines 2a

And then I reached a section of trail that I’ve watched grow and change in a way that’s more noticeable than most. I counted the whorls on these white pines and determined that they are about 25 years old. I remember when our sons, who are in their early twenties, towered over the trees in their sapling form. Now two to three times taller than our young men, the trees crowded growing conditions have naturally culled them.

s-birch planter

Nature isn’t the only one that has culled the trees. Following their selection to be logged, however, some became planters for other species.

s-3 trees

Nearing the end of the trail another view warmed my heart. Three trees, three species, three amigos. Despite their differences, they’ve found a way to live together. It strikes me as a message to our nation.

Perhaps our leaders need to turn the spotlight on places like Sabattus. It’s worth a wonder.

 

 

 

 

Everything Old is New Again

Sometimes my feet wander down trails I’ve traveled many times before and other times they pull me into new territory. Either way, I’m happy to bumble along.

vp

My morning tramp began with a visit to the vernal pool. A week ago it was empty. Some rain and cooler temps suddenly mean water glazed with ice.

gateway 1

Continuing along, I stopped at an old gateway where granite posts mark the former opening. There is a cowpath on our property. Is this another one? Was there a barn nearby?

gate 2 gatepost

The split granite spoke of earlier times. Rather than pass through, as is usually my manner, my feet turned and I found myself following the stonewall in a westerly direction.

double wall

Curiously, it’s a double wall or two parallel walls, which typically indicates plowed land. That makes perfect sense, as the land was flat. But, what I noticed is that there aren’t many small stones between the outer walls as is traditionally the case. Why?

well

Eventually, I reached a corner, and found where all the smaller rocks had gone. They form a triangle–a common way to get rid of the little guys. I also noticed what I believe to be a well. There are wells throughout this woodland–rather curious.

dump site

Some artifacts, though rusted or broken, remain to provide further evidence that this area served a different use at one time. It now stands in tree growth and is lumbered every 30 years or so.

super double wall

As the wall turned, so did I. And here I was even more confused. The wall is about eight feet wide. The reason? I can only wonder.

island hopping

At the next corner, rather than continue to follow the wall, I climbed over and did some island hopping.

sphag 2 sphagnum 1

Sphagnum mosses display their pompom heads.

evergreens evergreens2

Evergreens compete for sunlit spaces.

snow flurries

And suddenly, snowflakes land on ice. Only flurries, but still . . . it’s snow.

lost 1

At times, I was lost. Not really lost because I knew I could find my way home, but fake lost–curious about where my next steps would lead.

turkey tails

Among my findings as I wandered about, turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor),  proving that they are as prolific as the tails of strutting turkeys for which they were named. And one hundred times more beautiful.

hemlock varnish shelf

Exhibiting its winter color is a hemlock varnish shelf (Ganoderma tsugae).

witch's butter & bark beetles

Witch’s butter (Tremella mesenterica) put me under its spell. I didn’t have any pins to prick it and let the jelly juices run, thus counteracting any adverse effects, but that’s okay–I think it’s a good witch.

ice needles

The ice needles are forming again, ever curious in style and design.

balloon

A different color catches my eye–deep in the woods and yet . . . and yet, the human effect leaves its mark. Don’t worry, it’s not there anymore.

deer trail

Finally, I followed the deer and moose trail home, and later decided to follow a more conventional trail.

 brook 2

brook reflection

Though I explore the trails beside the brook frequently, the change is constant.

 weeping treeweeping 2

This white pine, which is actually a snag, has taken to weeping. It’s nearing life’s end. I’d cry too if my outer layers of skin were cast away as if they meant nothing.

art 2

art 3

Another snag shows off its palettes of great size–artist’s conks.

   pileated 1

A third snag is an old favorite for pileated woodpeckers and me. I can see by the light color that it’s been visited within the last week.

pile, 3

Fresh holes, fresh chips and fresh saw dust.

pile scat

Of course, the crème de la crème–pileated woodpecker scat filled with carpenter ant carcasses.

 hemlock inner bark

hemlock 2

In the midst of it all, the inner bark of the hemlock tree decked out in its characteristic bright cinnamon red color reminiscent of the varnish shelf that grows on this species.

false tinder conk on red mapletinder conk

A false tinder conk and a tinder conk, both looking a bit like a horse’s hoof, appear ready to gallop away.

jelly ear 2

The jelly ear fungus listens attentively to all who choose to share their thoughts.

cache

And finally, a cache on an old stump let’s me know that winter is drawing near.

At day’s end, I’m ready for the next season, confident in the knowledge that everything old will be new again.

Mondate By the Bay

After lunch at Gritty McDuff’s in Freeport (haddock sandwiches and a brew–no PB & J today), my guy and I found our way to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park on Casco Bay. So, here’s the good, but scary part. We’ve been there before, but not in a long while–and neither of us had any recollection of it. That means today’s visit was like going there for the first time all over again. (Our dementia is setting in.)

map

Trails follow the coast and circle back to the Harraseeket River, passing through a variation of natural communities. We trekked over all but the North  Loop before we ran out of time. Actually, we finished up a wee bit after the park was officially closed for the night and were glad to find the gate still open.

red oak

By the forest floor, it was easy to name the predominate hardwood trees in any given area from Northern Red Oak to

beech leaves

American Beech to

big tooth aspen leaves

Big-tooth Aspen. Spruce, hemlock, pine and fir also fill this more than 200-acre forest given to the State in 1969 by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M.C. Smith.

down the trail

Sometimes the path was packed dirt that made for easy walking.

stone pathway

In other places, a stone pathway had been carefully laid out before us.

roots

And no woodland trail is complete without an array of roots and rocks.

blow downs

One of the noticeable features of this location is the number of uprooted trees.

blow down dominoes

The wind enjoyed a serious game of tic, tac, toe, three in a row or dominoes with this event. Here’s hoping that no one planned a picnic that day.

blow down every which way

And in other spots, it looked like the gale force winds of both summer and winter beat upon the landscape.

curves

Always on the lookout for interesting sites, my eye was drawn to the wavy inner bark of this old birch. It could be locks of Rapunzel’s hair. Of course, I also see a mermaid swimming in the slightly darker wood. Isn’t that what a naturalist is supposed to see?

eye in the tree

And then there was the hemlock-green sideways-turned eye–taking a different view of the world.

pine needles

While I’m sharing some interesting shots, I thought I’d include this one–of pine needles. It was getting dark and I chose the wrong setting, but I like the artsy texture of it–tweed-like in appearance.

seeing red

And the most interesting of all. My guy–he could pass for the invisible man.

Casco Bay Islands

Of course, we were beside Casco Bay, so we spent time exploring the coast line as well.

islands floating in distance

My knowledge of the island names is less than limited, but it did appear that those in the distance were floating on water–a mirage.

Goggins Island

As part of the park, Goggins Island is an Osprey sanctuary. Though I respect that, I do have to wonder about the human impact on the bird’s mating season. We’ve seen Ospreys build nests atop telephone poles over highways and bike paths with successful births despite the continuous noise and disturbance. But . . . a sanctuary certainly provides an extra layer of protection.

osprey platform

We could only spot one cock-eyed nesting platform on the island–with no nest on it.

Osprey nest 1

We did spy a bird-made nest on the mainland, and rather close to the trail. Just saying.

Googins in sunlight

All nests are abandoned now as the birds flew to South America in September–with plans to return next year to this golden paradise where they’ll mate again. Ospreys are monogamous and repeatedly use the same nest site. That’s the amazing piece to me.

rocky coast

The rocky coast of Maine includes the lighter colored granite pegmatites and darker metamorphic rocks with their repetitive flattened layering.

islands--lines in the rock, sea and sky

I found it intriguing how each layer before us mimicked the next–from the rocks to the ocean waves to the islands to the clouds in the sky.

late afternoon light

And then it was time to bid adieu. The setting sun where the forest meets the bay–Casco Bay. On. A. Mondate.

Work We Must Mondate

Today was a day made for some writing/editing work and yard work, but . . . my guy and I managed to squeeze in a hike–yesterday.

Last week, our friend, Dick B., excitedly shared with us a hiking location we’d never explored–Notch Mountain in Porter. He had recently walked the trail with the Denmark Mountain Hikers, a local group that ventures off each Friday.

So it was, we followed Dick’s directions and drove to Porter in search of the trailhead. An easy miss, but we spied the wood kiln he spoke of as we drove past it and turned around at the Hiram town line, knowing we’d gone too far. Backtracking, the trailhead was across from Clemons Point Road and the kiln.

.Notch sign

The sign–about twenty feet in from the road. Unassuming to say the least.

Notch trail wet

As we played dodge the water and looked at the slayed trees, we turned to each other and grimaced. What was Dick thinking?

Notch foundation 1

But we journeyed on and the muckiness abated. Then, this foundation practically jumped out at us.

Notch foundation 2

We weren’t sure exactly what we were looking at, but felt that this was a large house and there was either an attached barn or large shed, or the other structure was located quite close to the house.

Notch fdn bricks

Buried beneath the leaves, bricks indicated a chimney on an outside wall.

Notch tool shed?

We discovered what may have been a tool shed–a separate, three-sided room.

Notch farm remnantNotch plow 2

Indeed, we even found a few tools, including a plow, which became significant as we continued to explore along the trail.

Notch fdn feather:wedge

In the barn foundation, I like how one stone is wedged between the other two. It offers a reflection of how these rocks came to be in this place. The minerals, like quartz and feldspar, that are an essential part of granite’s make-up, interlock like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The end result: granite is one of the strongest and most durable rocks.

Using the plug and feather method practiced in the 19th century, small holes were hand drilled every six or seven inches across the stone. Two shims, called feathers, were placed in the hole and a wedge or plug was hammered between them. The farmer probably built this house in the winter when his farming duties weren’t as plentiful. And by drilling then, ice formed in the holes and helped to complete the work of splitting the granite. He and his family would have used a stone boat or sledge pulled by oxen to move the stones into place.

Notch mound of stones

A little further along, we came upon a massive wall of medium-size stones. This farmer must have cleared many, many acres, thus producing an incredible stone potato crop. And then moved them all so he could plow. My fingers twinge and my back hurts just thinking about all the work involved–makes our yard work look so easy.

Notch trail

On either side of the trail were stone walls, indicating this was more than a logging road at one point in time.

Notch big rocks

Throughout the woods, we found more piles of rocks, some with small stones and others, like this with medium-size stones. Rather than quilting bees, this family must have enjoyed stone bees–an exercise to remove as many stones from the ground as possible.

Notch wall:gnarly old maple

The stone wall frenzy is evidenced all along the trail. Sometimes double-wide garden walls, and other times single walls, also called farmer or pasture walls that were built as boundaries, and to keep animals from destroying crops.

Notch cemetery

Dick had mentioned the Wormwood cemetery, but we were still surprised when we happened upon it.

Notch grave 2

Charles B. Fly

b. Jun. 20, 1828; d. Oct. 27, 1860

Notch grave 1

Mehitable Wormwood

b. Oct. 16, 1825; d. Nov. 27, 1851

Notch, stone 4

Lydia Jane Osgood Wormwood

b. 1826; d. Dec. 27, 1851

Notch, stone 3

Rosanna Warren Wormwood, 2nd wife of Ithamar Wormwood

b. Oct., 1791; d. Feb. 28, 1856

Notch, 2 stones

Hannah and Ithamar Wormwood (b. May 29, 1791; d. Jul. 16, 1865). Two-year-old Jason Fly was also buried here.

Apparently the Flys were related to the Wormwoods, which makes sense. I suspect that there are other foundations to be discovered, but I was with my guy–Mr. Destinationitis, and so we continued toward the summit.

Notch glacier

As we climbed, we noticed glacial striations on rocks (aka snowmobile etchings),

Notch, beech contortionist

beech trees that think they are contortionists,

Notch oaks

and a mix of white and Northern red oak leaves.

Notch summit 1

Then the summit came into view.

Notch stop sign

Thank goodness for the faded stop sign

Notch summit fairy

and the fairy who watches over all who step too close to the edge.

Notch view

As the rain clouds gathered, we ate our PB&J sandwiches, this time topped off with Halloween candy and views of Clemons and Little Clemons ponds.

Notch, burnt meadow and pleasant

Burnt Meadow Mountain and Pleasant Mountain formed the backdrop.

We hiked down among rain drops, but the sun shone once we arrived home.

mansion, hunter and hunted

I was restless and didn’t want to deal with yard work, so I went for a walk and came upon evidence of the hunter and the hunted.

Today, while our work continued, I had the opportunity to escape to Pondicherry Park for a stewardship committee meeting–now that’s my idea of a great meeting place.

snowman

On my way, this guy reminded me that the next season is right around the corner (literally).

Pondicherry Reflection

And in the park–still plenty of color to reflect upon.

We know we have to work, whether to earn a living or maintain a home, but we do love our opportunities to explore new and old places. Thanks for sharing this one with us, Dick. It warrants further exploration to wander and wonder.

May Day Celebration

And just like that, it’s May. May Day. Memories of our sons quietly delivering flowers to neighbors and friends flashed through my mind this morning. I’ve a feeling they choose not to remember, but at the time they loved sneaking up to doors, depositing small baskets of flowers and then dashing away.

Birders

For me, the fun began this morning when I joined a small group intent on birding at the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge. Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, Pine Siskins, Waterthrush, Mallards, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Goldfinches and a few others were singing and flitting about.

bridge

The bridge, itself, is worth viewing from any vantage point.

moss

And then I drove to Sweden (Sweden, Maine, that is) to join a couple of friends on a tramp through the woods.

moss 2

Along the way, this May Day basket presented itself.

1000 shades of green

Moss covered rocks and stumps bring to mind my father and his Scottish heritage. The faeries or fair folk, as they prefer to be known, quietly present themselves in areas like this. Some day, I may share the fairy tale I wrote a few years ago.

witch hazel

The Witch Hazel still holds its leaves.

beech leaf

As do most American beech trees, but this one is beginning to leaf out.

pileated

The insects don’t stand a chance against the methodic hammering of the pileated woodpecker who created these holes.

carpenter ant

At the base of the tree, the reason for the pileated’s work was revealed; sawdust created by carpenter ants. This tree must hum before it drums.

rock tree

I actually stopped talking, ever so briefly, when I saw this.

rock tree 2

How in the world?

rock tree 3

We think we know, but what are your thoughts?

tree:rock

Meanwhile–a tree grows around a rock.

oak acrorn germinating

One of my favorite wonders of today. A red oak acorn germinating on the gravelly road–not exactly a quality site to begin life.

skunk cabbage

False Hellibore shines brightly,

skunk 2

slowly unfurling its smooth-edged, pleated leaves,

brookside

beside Powers Brook as it meanders by on its way to Stearns Pond.

beaver 1

It was a day of this and that, including beaver works.

lodge

The lodge.

dam

And two large dams, the second being in the background to the center right.

 canada mayflower

It’s May Day and we noticed that Canada Mayflower is beginning to leaf out.

ta

 But . . . we’ve been paying attention to Trailing Arbutus, aka Mayflower, whenever we tramp, and today–blossoms

Mayflowers

accompanied by that delicate sweet scent.

A reason to celebrate. Happy May Day.

A Watchful Eye

FB-sand

On my way to meet a friend at the Wilson Wing Moose Pond Bog Preserve, the amount of sand on the road made me appreciate all the snow we had this winter and give thanks to those who cleared the way and kept us safe –constantly.

Never mind that I was lost in thought and this is beyond Foxboro Road where I should have been. After stopping to take this photo, I saw three things that were out of place–a road sign (at which time, I thought, “I didn’t realize the ‘no thru trucks, 26,000 RGVW at anytime’ sign was on Foxboro Road”–it isn’t); my friend passed me headed in the opposite direction; I came to the curve by Wiley Road and knew something wasn’t quite right. Whatever you do, don’t follow me. I’ll surely lead you astray. But if you don’t mind wondering, then let’s go.

fb brook

It’s so different to be at Wilson Wing during the spring when the water tumbles over the rocks in Sucker Brook. We accepted the invitation to pause and ponder.

water

And enjoy fluid moments.

goldthread

And hope in the greenery. This scallop-leafed goldthread made us get down on our hands and knees for a closer look.

dewdrop

As did the heart-shaped dewdrop leaves.

heart

Another heart also spoke to us.

rock:lichen

And the lichen and moss on this rock invited an up close and personal inspection through the hand lens.

lichen 2

We tried to figure out which crustose lichen it is. I’m leaning toward a disk lichen (Lecidella stigmata) because the black fruiting bodies are raised.

quartz:lichen

Then we saw a contrast in styles–soft moss and hard quartz.

tree chain lichen

Some trees were adorned with necklaces. Tree necklaces.

hb

Our focus also included hobblebush, with its unscaled leaf buds

hb clasping

clasped together, perhaps in silent prayer for the bog and the life it supports.

hb 3

Flowers are forming, but we don’t want to rush the season.

hb 2

Then again, I can’t wait.

beaver 1

And then there was another story to unfold.

beaver 2

I thought beaver. My friend thought porcupine.

beaver 3

It was the wee amount of debris at the base of the beech that stumped us. And the fact that this was the only tree in the area that had been chewed in this manner. No scat to confirm. But my, what wide teeth you have.

beaver 4

We walked along and then moved off the trail. Looking around, we saw these and were finally able to turn the pages of the book.

beaver 5

Munched treats

beaver 6

and munched saplings told us who had moved about.

beaver 7

These chips are more what we would expect from a beaver. So here’s how we read the story. The fresh chew that caused the initial debate was perhaps the work of a two-year-old beaver forced to leave the lodge. It stopped along the way recently to nibble some treats. The sapling in the later photos was felled last fall, when it was time to renovate the lodge.

view

At the platform, we climbed up to enjoy the view, which includes the lodge.

hawk 3

We weren’t the only ones with a watchful eye.

I’m so glad you wondered along on today’s wander. Keep watching. There’s so much more to see.

Extended Mondate

Sometimes Christmas gifts are delayed at our house, though not quite the way they were when I was growing up. Back then, months after the holiday, Mom would discover a forgotten gift she’d tucked away in the hallway closet for one of us. It was a fun surprise–for us and for her.

This weekend, my guy and I shared a present I’d given him last Christmas–a weekend away, with a search for roots tied in.

We began with my roots actually–and spent Friday night and Saturday morning with my sister and brother-in-law. That, in itself, is always a gift. Plus the conversation, laughter, a delicious breakfast and chocolate chip cookies for the road. (Many thanks to the MacBuds! You are the best.)

And then we were on the road again–headed to Onset Beach in Wareham, Mass. Until this weekend, Wareham had always been a place that we passed through on our way to or from the Cape. Oh, maybe we stopped for  saltwater taffy sometimes, but that was about it.

This weekend changed everything. We didn’t stay there, but we spent plenty of time there–including in the Ford dealership because the check battery light came on when we were about an hour away. The nice mechanic replaced the alternator and belt and in less than an hour and a half we were on the road again. And thankful.

Finally, Onset Beach.

onset 1

This is the view we think my guy’s great grandparents enjoyed daily. Back in the late 1800s/early 1900s, they owned the Onset Hotel. We weren’t exactly sure which building it was at first, but my guy isn’t shy (as some may think) and he talked to almost everyone in town. We were looking for one person in particular because we’d been told he might have information that would help us. I’m surprised the police didn’t come looking for us as we walked up and down streets, chatted with anyone we encountered and knocked on a few doors. We even visited the kind dispatcher at the local fire department. As I said, we talked to almost everyone.

onset 4

This person told us about that person, who suggested we visit yet another person. Finally, we had confirmation–the hotel became condominiums in the 1980s/90s. The photo above is of a page from a 1925 booklet that a woman who owns a property management business showed us. She also called several people in town trying to get more information, to no avail. But we were thrilled that we could look  from her business and see the building.  And walk by it and enjoy the view and smell the sea air, just as his great grandparents had done all those years ago. If they had time, that is, because apparently they also owned a bar in Boston.

onset 2

There’s a condo for sale. Maybe we should think about it. I don’t think so. We really aren’t beach people, even though we both grew up along the coast. We enjoy visiting the beach, but . . .

onset 3

We spent Saturday afternoon stalking the area and returned there this morning. Finally, we’d located the man we were looking for. He gave us two more names–of people who may have some information, but they weren’t home today. Never fear, this story isn’t over yet. We have phone numbers.

bike path 1

And so the present continued. We drove over the Bourne Bridge to Falmouth, where my guy had spent many summers before his parents purchased a hardware store in Maine back in 1965.

Our first Sunday morning adventure was along the bike path.

allen, bike path

While he headed down the trail for a run to Woods Hole and back, I moseyed along with camera in hand. You may want to stop reading now.

 invasives

I was surprised by the overwhelming amount of invasive species. It makes our neck of the woods look practically invasive-free.

bamboo 2bamboo

I expected panda bears to come out of this swath of bamboo. Fortunately, it’s only in one spot–at the moment.

Invasive species do always give me pause. On this land, I too, am an invasive. Just like the plants and insects that are not native, nor were my ancestors or my guy’s ancestors. They say what makes an invasive such is that there isn’t anything native that will feed on it, thus it will take over and smother the native species. Hmmm . . .

salt pond

On to prettier sites, like this salt pond beside the path.

seagrass

And the ubiquitous common reed, an invasive which I’ve always admired. There’s beauty in commonness.

willow bud

Willow buds.

osprey

And soaring osprey.

osprey nesting

Nests on platforms or cross bars of power lines. So maybe man invaded, but he’s making amends by placing pallets on high.

beach by bike path

This beach was my turn-around point.

critter on bike path

If you do use the bike path, be forewarned. Panda bears may not be munching on bamboo, but you never know what you might see.

We went in search of the childhood cottage my guy’s dad had built. They sold the small house fifty years ago, and even though we’d last driven by about twenty years ago, it took us a bit to relocate it. Again, he approached a woman who was working in a neighboring yard. There were more houses on the road than he remembered, but it seemed to still be there–with a few changes. He didn’t knock on the door.

We did visit the beach where he and his siblings used to swim and cross the narrow channel to explore an island. On Google, I found the following: “A WW II Army amphibious Training base located in East Falmouth MA (Cape Cod). More exactly it was located on a peninsula now called Seacoast Shores in the village of Waquoit. The base was connected to a nearby island called Washburn Island by a bridge. We have circa 1950’s aerial photos showing the road and ramp to a bridge on the Washburn Island side but the bridge is missing. Aerial photos from 1942 to 1945 should show the bridge. Seacoast Shores is now a thriving waterside Community and Washburn has been returned to its natural state as a wilderness preserve in Waquoit Bay. ~Paul R. Flebotte, COL US Army Retired

looking toward island, seacoast shores

On the left hand side of the island is the site of the bridge Col Flebotte mentions.

skipping stones

The afternoon found us skipping stones.

gull

Talking to herring gulls.

jingle shell

Admiring jingle shells (I don’t know their actual name, but as kids, we used to collect several in our hands and then shake them together to make them jingle).

nature art

And other works of art.

lighthouse

We paused at Nobska Lighthouse.

Woodshole

Explored Woods Hole.

woods hole pier

Reminisced about dinghies of our youth.

wooden boat

Which sometimes looked like this.

buoys

And realized that things are still on the quiet side.

silver sands

Then we explored more beaches.

barnacles:seaweed

Discovered life on a rock–the same and yet different from what we find in the woods.

barnacles

And wondered about the crustaceous barnacles that are secured head-first. Talk about living in a small house. (My sister and I had been talking about living in small houses)

mussels:oysters

In the same fashion that lichens and mosses grow on the rocks around our western Maine home, providing a home base for others, so do the barnacles, mussels and oysters adhere in their habitat.

snail trails

Lest you think I wasn’t tracking–snail trails.

gnarly trees

Then there were the trees. I knew I was out of my comfort zone when it came to identifying some of these–especially with the gnarly behavior. Despite that, just as my guy stalked the good people of Onset, I stalked the trees of Falmouth.

am elm sign

Thankfully, someone made it easy for me. Signs.

American elm

The  elm’s light gray bark has furrows with a V  or diamond shape, but they intersect at longer lengths than on an ash tree.

amelm buds

And the branches are wiry with alternate buds/branching.

syc

I loved the camouflage look of this bark and only just realized that it is a sycamore. It wasn’t wearing a sign.

syc 2

But it did have its signature calling cards–dangling brown fruits that some call button balls.

horse chestnut

Thankfully, the horse chestnut identified itself. 🙂

hc buds

It also showed off its opposite bud pattern, making for an easy id.

Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Honeysuckle/Viburnum (aka Caprifoliaceae) and Horse Chestnut–trees with opposite buds. MADCap Horse is one way I was taught to remember that little tidbit.

home sign

And then it was time to head for the hills. We had a delightful stay and will go again, I’m sure–especially since we have more to learn about the family roots, but this sign on a shop near the inn where we stayed says it all.

Our feet may have left our home for a few days on this extended Mondate, but our hearts were always back here, well rooted in the Maine woods.

Thanks for wondering along on this lengthy wander.

Naturally Wavy

The roads were coated in black ice when I drove toward Jefferson, Maine, early this morning to meet up with the Maine Master Naturalist class. The morning sun, brilliant blue sky with scattered cumulous clouds, and mist rising from open waterways, made me want to pause along the highway and take some photos, but I wasn’t sure how I’d explain to a state policeman that indeed it was an emergency. Instead, I continued on to Gardiner, got off the highway and followed backroads over rolling hills and through farm country to my destination–Hidden Valley Nature Center. 

Aptly named, the 1,000-acre natural education center consists of contiguous forest dotted with vernal pools, a kettle bog, ponds and 30 miles of trails.

Bambi

Bambi Jones, a Master Naturalist and co-founder of HVNC, spent the morning with us, showing us the vernal pools and sharing her knowledge. Things aren’t exactly hopping at the pools yet, but . . . the weather is supposed to warm up this week and once the snow melts–look out!

vp1

When I first looked at this vernal pool photo, I thought it was upside down–such is the reflection.

vpsign

A wee bit of info and a reason why we should pay attention.

fen2

This is a kettle hole bog apparently, caused by glacial action. I was looking up the difference between a bog and a fen and found this on The International Carnivorous Plant Society’s Web site: “People commonly describe wetlands with words like pond, bog, marsh, fen, and swamp, thinking these are mostly interchangeable. Actually, there are careful definitions for each of these names. The only problem is that a hydrologist may use one set of definitions, while a botanist may use another, and an ecologist may use yet another.”

While we stood looking across, someone in the group spotted what they thought was a bobcat across the way and coming down a hill. I never saw it, but I did note lots of ledges in the area and on the way out saw some potential bobcat tracks.

fen1

Another view. Lots of black spruce, sheep laurel and pitcher plant seed pods visible.

pitcher plant flower

The seed pod of a  pitcher plant, one of our carnivorous plants.

beaver lodge:fen

And a beaver lodge along the edge.

2nd beaver lodge

There were so many things to see, including a second beaver lodge that may have more action. Do you see it in the center of the photo?

beaver dam

This dam is nearby and had seen lots of activity. Due to yesterday’s rain, it’s a bit hard to decipher the tracks.

Cheryl , spring tails

Remember when I mentioned snow fleas or spring tails in my post entitled, The Small Stuff? Well, this is one of our students enjoying a circus performance.

cat

You never know what you might see when you take the time to look.

looking for life

So they did–look that is. And almost fell in.

what's in your dannon?

More observations–whatcha got in your Dannon container?

white oak1

One of my joys was meeting two new trees. I was excited to make the acquaintance of White Oak (Quercus alba) today. Rather than the ski trails and redness of Northern Red Oak, this species features bark that looks like irregular blocks.

white oak 2

And sometimes it looks shaggier, with long, vertical plates. Like its red brethren, the leaves are marcescent, meaning they stay on the tree through the winter months.

white oak leaf

What I love about the White Oak leaf is its rounded lobes.

red oak

Here’s a middle-aged (just like me!) Northern Red Oak for comparison. The flat-ridged ski trails are forming and the red is clearly visible between them.

red oak leaf

Then there’s the bristle-tipped leaf.

amer hornbeam

My second new encounter was with the American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroloiniana). Again, a thrilling experience. OK, it doesn’t take much. Now I understand why it’s called musclewood. It could easily be mistaken for a beech tree because the bark of a young  tree is smooth, but there is a sinewy beauty to it. My bark eyes are now cued into this one.

Hop Hornbeam

The fun part was that not far away stood this old friend. Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginians) has thin, flaky vertical strips. Both species, members of the birch family, are known as ironwood.

stream

As the day went on, though our focus was on vernal pools and communities, we often got distracted by other things–which I’ve dubbed Nature Distraction Disorder.

What I began to notice was a natural waviness. I saw it in the snow along the edge of this stream.

folds

In the folds of the rocks.

more folds

And more folds.

beech 2

In the scar on this beech tree.

red oak growth

And the growth on this red oak.

 sculpture

But probably my favorite, this naturally wavy sculpture on display by the barn where we convened a few times. It invites reflection.

Thanks for joining me for today’s wonder-filled wander.