It had been four years since we last visited Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and that venture took place at the end of November. We must have been Christmas shopping. Today, we were in search of a bug-repellant shirt for me (Spring shopping) and so our journey took us to Freeport. Not being a shopper, it was a quick in and out of the store and then onto Wolfe’s Neck Road.
There’s a 4.4 mile network of trails in this 200-acre park gifted to the State in 1969 by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M.C. Smith of Freeport. One of the stand-out features is Googins Island where Osprey have been entertaining visitors for years as they raise their young on a huge platform nest they’ve built high up in a pine. Can you see it?
Here’s a closer view–and I assume (never assume) that Momma was the one sitting on eggs. The nest has been added to each year and though I have no idea of its actual size, Osprey nests can reach 10–13 feet in depth and 3–6 feet in diameter. The depth of this one appeared to be a few feet, but the diameter was substantial.
We followed the trails and enjoyed journeys to the water where we could take in the views of Casco Bay and its islands.
And before our feet, the mix of granite pegmatite and metamorphic rock. As much as my mom always loved to walk along a beach, she was equally enchanted by the rocky coast of Maine and whenever I encounter it, I feel her presence.
I know mom would have appreciated the artistic rendition of waves created by the water and mimicked by the rock.
Again and then again, the trail was interrupted by a set of wooden steps that led us back to the water’s edge.
It was there that we spied the Common Eiders as they floated and fished.
And . . . the first Dandelion blossom of the season–for us, at least. In my modest opinion, Dandelions are under-appreciated and that fact was driven home when my guy asked, “You’re photographing a dandelion?” Yep. Check out each golden ray of sunshine with its five “teeth” representing a petal that forms a single floret. Yes, each petal is a floret. Therefore, the bloom is a composite of numerous florets. And notice how each stigma splits in two and curls. What’s not to love. Oh yeah, and though we didn’t witness it today, the pollinators love them. (SO don’t pull up the dandelions in your yard!)
The thing about Dandelions is that they leaf out first and then flower, while their cousins, Coltsfoot, which we also found along the trail, flower first and leaf out later. The wonder of it all.
Our journey took us across stepping stones,
along park-like paths (because we were in a park, after all), over roots and rocks, with ups and downs, and even a couple of bog bridges.
The sights along the way included patches of Equisetum, a living fossil. These vascular plants reproduce by spores rather than seeds and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Just imagine.
While that was a treat, one of my favorite surprises was the patch of Trout Lilies that decorated the forest floor. It’s one I don’t encounter often, but because of its maroon-mottled leaves that remind some of brown or brook trout, I’ve remembered it each time we’ve met.
The nodding flower that could have been a lantern in the forest with its petals and sepals bent backward, exposed six brown stamens hanging low.
And then, and then, one of my all-time favorites in any season, a Hobblebush, showed off its May glory in new leaves and flowers. Those in our western Maine woods aren’t as advanced yet, but trust that I am watching.
Our journey was quick for we had another commitment, but still . . . we made some wonderful discoveries and especially loved the opportunity to see the Osprey on its nest.
The second in our LOVE ME, love me series had come to an end. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. ✓ Two down, 32 to go!
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