Our Happy Place Mondate

Imagine our joy. Imagine our smiles that showed our joy.

We’d considered a hike for this Mondate, but awaking to another humid day put the damper on that.

How should we spend the day? What would make us both happy?

A paddle seemed the perfect solution.

And so off we headed into the deep blue sea. Or rather, deep blue pond. My guy sought another hue of deep blue. In the form of certain berries so named for their color.

I, on the other hand, sought others, such as this Lancet Clubtail dragonfly who returned to my dirty kayak over and over again–a sibling chasing him off in between.

As we explored the edges of islands, my guy searching for fulfillment of the containers he’d brought along, Swamp Spreadwing damselflies, their form so dainty, posed frequently to my liking.

Among the branches of my guy’s desire, webs had been created . . . and unfortunately for some spreadwings, canoodling acts were ended by the sticky structure created by others.

Despite that, those known as Familiar Bluets found a way to continue the circle of life through their heart-shaped wheel.

Slaty Blue dragonflies were not to be outdone and she clung to him from her lower position.

As all things go in the natural world, not every dragonfly nymph completed the transformation to adulthood and thus a few were left in suspended animation. This one, in particular, reflected the bent form of the Pickerel Weed upon which it wished to emerge. So what happened? Why was the plant stem bent? Why didn’t the dragonfly complete the cycle of life? I’ll never know, but it’s worth wondering about.

Every once in a while upon our journey, I remembered to let the entire scene fill my scope and summer fill my soul. Did my guy do the same? I kinda think so, but can’t say for sure.

After all, his focus was on little berries of blue, while I took in a few other things, like the teeny flowers of Spatulate-leaved Sundew. Such a dainty flower for a carnivorous plant.

And the there was the Tachnid fly on the Swamp Milkweed.

The flies weren’t the only ones pollinating the flowers.

With eyes so big, and waist so thin, it could only be one: a wasp. But not all wasps are to be feared and this Great Golden Digger proved it has much to offer the world.

Into the mix flew a female Red-winged Blackbird, her focus not at all upon her reflection, but rather food to feed her young.

Fortunately for her, the mister also searched and provided.

As my guy foraged, I continued to hunt. My form of hunting, however, embraced only photographs, such as a small Blue Dasher Skimmer upon a Yellow Pond Lily.

Who ever determined such wee ones with white faces, metallic eyes, bright thorax stripes, and a blue abdomen with black tip as common? For me, the Blue Dasher will always be worth a wonder.

That’s exactly what I did on this Mondate as a Lancet Clubtail whirled upon my hat much like a beanie copter. I wondered while I wandered.

My guy foraged and foraged some more.

And in the midst of it all, I met a dragonfly new to me this summer who is supposed to be common: a male Widow Skimmer.

What a day. What a Mondate. What a dragonfly. What a wonder. Our Happy Place. Indeed.

Mondate Afternoon

My guy was on an unexpected road trip all weekend and didn’t arrive home until lunchtime today. So, while I waited for him, I did what I do best–stalked the garden.

n-morning white faced wasp

I’m not sure I ever noticed this black and white bee previously. Its hairy body shimmered in the morning sun.

n-morning golden digger wasp

At the same time, the great golden digger wasp moved quickly about, using its jointed antennae to search out nectar before it honed in on the sweet stuff.

n morning wasp

In a similar manner, a thread-waisted wasp also visited the mint flowers.

n-morning  turtlehead

As I made my rounds, I was thrilled to find turtlehead about to bloom. This late-blooming flower is one of my favorites (turtle theme), and I’ve watched it move from spot to spot in the garden. This year, it’s plentiful in a shadier place than usual.

n-morning black eyed susan

While the turtlehead sported new life, the black-eyed Susan spoke of days gone by. But even still, I think it’s stunning.

n-morning cricket

On the deck I noticed a cricket. Really, they are everywhere right now and sing all day and night–thus the reason we named our homestead Cricketchirp Farm. Don’t get it wrong–we don’t farm–we just live in an old farmhouse. Our best crop–insects.

n-morning grasshopper

And then I noticed I wasn’t the only one doing the watching. The red-legged grasshopper broke through a spider web and turned its head to keep an eye on me. Nice lips.

n-ordway sign

Finally, my guy was home and eager to stretch his legs. So I convinced him to explore several properties in the Oxford Hills region with me. Our journey began at Ordway Grove.

n-Ordway trailhead

The trailhead is located on Pleasant Street in Norway and begins beside a quaint shed. Though the trail isn’t long, its history is worth reading on the Norway Historical Society’s Web site.

n-oak on beech

This is land where large red oaks are supported by much smaller beech, and . . .

n-giant pines

towering white pines speak volumes about the last few hundred years.

n-Penneseewassee

The trail includes a few peeks at Lake Pennesseewassee, aka Norway Lake. Our only disappointment–signs of man’s disturbance, aka trash and some graffiti. Why?

n-wasp Witt Swamp.jpg

After we completed the loop walk and stood in awe among the giant trees, we continued up Pleasant Street to the trailhead for the Witt Swamp Trail owned by the Western Maine Foothills Land Trust. At the kiosk, an attached note provided warning. The register was a bit destroyed–perhaps due to a wasp encounter. It was cold and breezy when we arrived so we didn’t see, hear or feel a single insect.

n Witt Swamp evergreens

The beginning of the trail leads through a variety of youthful evergreens including red and white pines, balsam fir, hemlock and cedar.

n cedar leaf

Because they are saplings, I was able to take a closer look at the cedar leaves. Can you see the oil glands that give cedar its aromatic smell when the leaves are crushed?

n-cedar waves

My eyes were constantly drawn to the waviness of cedar bark, which creates a pattern not equaled by others.

n cedar works

Cedar works and . . .

n-cedar legs

cedar legs speak of their family genes–cedars are members of the Cypress family.

n-squeeze between 2

Two trees and a few signs encouraged us to pass through–so we did.

n-arrow at Witt

Other signs also indicated the direction to follow–this one much like an oversized arrowhead.

n-hemlock hugs

Not to be left out, a hemlock hugged the rock and itself.

n cornwall map

After another rather quick journey, we drove to Paris Hill. Our destination: Cornwall Nature Preserve, a 147-acre tract donated to the town of South Paris by Alice Cornwall. We decided to follow the wide white-blazed trail toward the purple trail leading to the Ice Pond.

n ice pond dam

We found the old dam, where water trickled through the rocks, but didn’t realize that somewhere in this vicinity we missed what may have been the ice house–or perhaps a rock foundation of sorts. Now that I know we missed it, I’m eager to return for a closer look. Back in the day, ice was cut and probably stored in the ice house. As a kid growing up in Connecticut, I recall going to an ice house on Route 1 in Clinton. Ice blocks stored in an insulated icebox kept perishable food chilly.

n-artists conk

We did see a few mushrooms here and there, but this summer’s drought means a low amount  of mycelium’s fruiting form. A few artist conks made themselves known.

n-oak fern

Without field guides, I think I ID this correctly as oak fern. Though similar to bracken, its stem was delicate and its height low. I should have looked for sori, but only had time for a quick shot–I was with my guy, after all.

n-Cornwall stonewalls

Again, there were stonewalls throughout the property–this one covered with moss. Like much of Maine, this was once farm country.

The Cornwall Nature Preserve has a variety of trails, but no maps other than the one at the kiosk. We figured out the layered trail system and encircled most of the outer part of the property. Much of it seems worthy of further exploration and enchantment.

We certainly felt enchanted to finally celebrate an afternoon Mondate.