“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus
While I sometimes walked beside Jinny Mae this afternoon, I spent more time following her and am still her friend (I think).
A HOT afternoon. Despite the heat, however, I’m always tickled to follow her because she knows her 40-acre property intimately–including all of its nooks and crannies and cool sights.
We had some rain this morning, but Jinny Mae’s land is naturally wet and well loved by mosses and ferns . . . and green frogs. As we approached, several leaped into this mini pool and then posed.
Others waited patiently–probably hoping we’d move along.
J.M. has a fascination for fungi. Many fruiting bodies, like this gilled polypore, showed their faces as we moved about.
We rolled the log to get a better look at the maze-like underside.
Among our finds–chanterelles (deleted false because fungi expert, Jimmie Veitch informed me that they are true chanterelles. If you want to know more about Maine fungi or to purchase some, visit White Mountain Mushrooms) and . . .
a coral fungi. Given today’s humidity, it felt like we were in the Bermuda of the North.
Jinny Mae also showed me a fern-like moss that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: stair-step moss. This moss is particularly fond of the moist coniferous and hardwood forest we tramped through. Its new growth arose from the previous year’s growth–climbing like a staircase.
Nearby, she pointed to one of her favorite tree displays–a hemlock and yellow birch sharing space. Both have seeds that germinate best on rotting logs or rocks, where moss gathers and provides moisture. In a compatible relationship, they’ve reached for the sky with equal success. I’m reminded of two friends who know the importance of supporting each other–similar to the chitchat and occasional silence Jinny Mae and I share as we bushwhacked.
And then she introduced me to Excalibur. Even King Arthur probably couldn’t pull this sword-like piece of a tree out of the ground–well, maybe he could. But we couldn’t.
The reason for Excalibur’s existence: a recent lightning strike.
We looked around and saw that the energy passed through at least three trees.
Bark peeled off.
And shredded wood scattered. What surprised us both was that we couldn’t find any burnt wood. Thankfully.
Making our way back toward her house, we entered a beech forest and began to see beechdrops everywhere we looked.
These are parasitic plants that don’t manufacture their own nutrition, thus they depend on the roots of American beech trees for food.
In this same area, we come across a young beech tree Jinny Mae flagged in the spring when she first observed a cotyledon. We chuckled when we remembered how we both were so taken with cotyledons a few months ago–a new sighting for us. One of those things that was always there, but we’d never noticed it previously. Today, she was filled with pride for this young beech. It’s had a healthy start and in forty years may provide beech nuts for the neighborhood bears. In the meantime, it will probably nourish a few beech drops.
And then she showed me the final cool find of the day–an Indian pipe with stamens that appear to have split away from the flower. It seems that these friends made the move together–much the same as Jinny Mae and I did today.
I may have tagged along and followed her, but really, we walked side by side and I’m thankful for her friendship.