We headed out the backdoor, into our woodlot, down the cowpath, along the snowmobile trail, veered left behind the church, walked down a driveway, crossed the road and snuck into Pondicherry Park.
Or so we thought, but as we stood below this Norway maple with its widely-divergent two-winged samaras, a familiar voice hailed us. Our friend, Dick Bennett, appeared out of nowhere (well, really from somewhere–for like us, he lives nearby and uses these trails frequently to get to town) and so we chatted briefly. He was on a mission and we were headed in a different direction along the multi-layered loop system.
Within minutes we followed the path out of the woods and across the field–prepared as we were for rain. Our plan was to retreat when it started to pour.
Once we entered the woods again, we heard a barred owl call from the distance with its infamous “Who cooks for you?” “Our oldest son and his girlfriend,” was our response for they had surprised us this weekend with a visit and prepared last night’s meal.
For the most part we stuck to the trail system, but then we stepped over the wall onto the Lake Environmental Association’s Maine Lake Science Center property because I wanted to show my guy this pile of dirt and stones.
On a recent bushwhack with a few others, we’d discovered this fox hole and I immediately recalled all the fox tracks and seeing a red fox this past winter not far from this location.
After poking about for a few minutes, we made our way back to the LEA trail and eventually landed at the boardwalk that weaves through a wetland. From there, it was back through the woods to the park trails. I know my guy wanted to move quickly, such were the bugs, but I wanted to take everything in and so he patiently waited from time to time.
After all, there were visions in white exploding with glory in the form of Canada mayflowers,
and wild sarsaparilla.
We also feasted our eyes on visions offering the purplish hue of gaywings, aka fringed polygala.
And then there were the ferns.
The fertile stalks of cinnamon ferns shouted their name,
while the royal ferns were much more subtle–
their fertile crowns practically blending into the sterile fronds.
At the chimney by the amphitheater, a chipmunk paused to ponder our intentions and then quickly disappeared.
We followed the river trail to the Bob Dunning Bridge and noted all the shades of green beside Stevens Brook.
And then there were other sights to see, like the boxelder and its samaras. Its common name refers to the resemblance of its leaves to elder trees and the use of the soft wood for box making. Its also our only maple with compound leaves. And the samaras differ greatly from the Norway maple we stood under at the beginning of our walk–for the boxelder’s winged seeds more closely resemble upside down Vs or peace signs.
As is often the case when stopping by the bridge, the catbirds who nest in the undergrowth paused beside the brook during their foraging expeditions.
Nearby, we saw some food meant for them–a colony of Eastern tent caterpillars consuming maple leaves right down to the veins. It seemed like it was time for some units of energy to be passed along the food web.
Besides the wildlife, our only human encounters included a relative crossing the bridge on his way home from work and our friend Dick, whom we’d seen at the start.
For various reasons, May has been devoid of dates and so today’s adventure, though not long, served as our only Mondate celebration for the month–no maybes about it. And it never did rain.
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