When Pam asked at the end of our slow tour today what my favorite finds were, I named at least five.
First, there was the Painted Turtle that I spotted on Kezar Lake Road as I drove toward the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Long Meadow Brook Reserve. After I pulled over and approached him, he did what turtles do and retreated into his shell. Though he wasn’t feeling it, I was in celebration mode, for he represented my first turtle of the season. And I helped him cross the road.
I felt safe calling him a he for males have long fingernails. Can you see him peeking out at me in a not too pleased manner? Can’t say I blame him, but our time together was brief and soon he wandered his way while I wandered mine.
And then, another reason for celebration–Coltsfoot in bloom. I know it’s invasive, but its sunny face and scaly purplish stem that predate its leaves offer a first hint of the season’s promises of colors to come.
Coltsfoot is known by some as Filius ante patrem (the son before the father), because the bright yellow star-like flowers appear and wither before its broad, green leaves are produced.
The next sight to be considered: a small spider that, like the painted turtle, continuously eluded our focus by quickly moving to the opposite side of the beech twig. Can you spy it?
And then there were those tree buds bursting forth with life ready to unfold from within. We were offered a few early glimpses of the future and rejoiced at each sample.
At last we reached Long Meadow Brook, for which the reserve is named. And stood and looked and listened and waited and absorbed. Oh, Pam absorbed some water in her boots thanks to a leak. But she didn’t let that stop her and we each enjoyed the opportunity to let this place soak through our pores for moments that turned into a string of minutes and suddenly an hour had passed.
At long last, we pulled away and began a bushwhack through the woods beside the brook.
In so doing, we found more to celebrate, like a red squirrel refectory upon a rock and we suspected a large hole below the tree trunk and boulder had served as the larder.
Continuing on, we saw mats of black upon moss by another tree and almost wrote it off as perhaps a fungi we hadn’t met before.
But. It. Moved. As we watched, we realized the constant motion was created by springtails writhing en masse. To say it wasn’t creepy would be lying. Likewise we were fascinated and leaned in closer to watch the swarm upon the moss.
Resting nearby, perhaps having just gorged on some of those tiny little morsels, was another reason for celebration–a spring peeper. We spotted two, but heard a hundred million more, each adding its song to the symphony that arose from the wetland. And suddenly, an interval of silence would interrupt the music, and then one male would peep, and the rest would join in again until they arrived at the next rest symbol upon their sheet music.
Others added their own notes to the orchestra, including a couple of White-throated Sparrows that trilled in our midst.
Near the end of our journey, we reached a point where we could see that there was still some snow on the the Bald Face Mountains in Evans Notch, but we spotted a dragonfly and honored Trailing Arbutus flowers and rejoiced. Though our celebration didn’t have a Mexican theme, we still had at least cinco reasons to give thanks from the Painted Turtle to Coltsfoot to Bud Bursts to Squirrel Larders to Creepy Collembola to Spring Peepers to White-throated Sparrows. Really, it was more a Siete de Mayo on this Cinco de Mayo–Maine-style.
People often ask me this question: Aren’t you afraid of hiking alone? My response is that I’m more afraid to walk down Main Street than through the woods, the reason being that it’s a rare occasion I encounter another mammal. Oh, I do move more cautiously when I’m alone and today was no different. But . . . there’s something uniquely special about a solo experience.
Perhaps it’s that my mind wanders with me and I see things I might otherwise miss when I’m distracted by conversations with dear friends and family members. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to travel with them, I just equally enjoy going forth on my own.
Today’s exploration of the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Long Meadow Brook Reserve and the adjacent private property protected under a conservation easement with the land trust allowed such a wander, both literally as I only occasionally followed the trail, and figuratively as I was sure that the two-headed tree spirit chuckled with me, not at me. You’ll need to let your own imagination wander to see the spirits within the split tree–believe me . . . they are there.
One of the things I love best about the Long Meadow Brook Reserve is its cathedral of pines–and the route I chose today appeared to lead to infinity. It’s not the blazed route, but someone had obviously been that way before.
When I reached the first bench, I heard the voices of fellow travelers and the laughter of the Lovell Recreation Summer Campers who often clamber for a seat. For the time being, their good-natured chatter was buried until they return again.
From the bench I moved across the field as many a deer had done, and found my way down to the namesake for this property, Long Meadow Brook. I’ll never forget my first visit several years ago–and the awe when discovering this view in the summer. In every season, I welcome the opportunity to have my breath taken away.
The view by my feet also garnered my attention, for it was obvious that a red fox had walked this way before me.
How did I know it was a red fox and not gray? Well, first I measured the print size, straddle, and stride. And then I looked at the foot morphology as presented in the snow. The prints were a bit muffled, which is one aid in identification, for a red fox has hairy feet. And . . . I spied the chevron, a little indented ridge that appears in the foot pad. If you look at David Brown’s Trackard in the previous photograph, you’ll see the chevron as a dark line.
There were other clues as to the maker of the tracks–for some frozen urine by a sapling spelled his name. And its skunky scent added a flourish to his penmanship. It’s mating season and this boy had an announcement to make.
I suspected his words were heard for it appeared that more than one fox had traveled across the old beaver dam and I found more pee at each little post.
I desperately wanted to cross as others had, but I was alone and knew it was best to stay on the eastern side.
That didn’t stop me from looking and noticing what may have been a recent otter or mink slide in the midst of the fox tracks.
Or the remains of a snowball fight that I imagined the fox affectionately tossed as his date.
Looking south, I couldn’t see any action, unless you consider the cattails. But I had to wonder, were the fox and the mink and the otter and any others at the edges keeping watch over me?
I couldn’t be sure, but I did note that the cattails parachuted seeds were eager to set off on the breeze and start their own lives.
Likewise, the water at the dam added its form of action and color and texture and sound–in as many renditions as possible.
At last I moved on, followed the blazed trail and climbed to the second bench on the property, along a route the deer know so well. Where were they? Also at the edge, again keeping watch?
Had I startled them from browsing the red maples? Missing buds and long tags represented their mark on the land.
Before moving on again, I stood behind the second bench where the mountains in Evans Notch looked as if they’d been coated with frosting; and in the way of the winter world, they had.
And then I followed a seldom used trail back down to the brook, where I spied a fox track. Do you see it? It’s about in the lower middle of the photograph.
I was even more excited when I noticed mature tamaracks growing along the brook’s bank and gave thanks.
For you see, several years ago some young tamaracks that grew along the beaver dam had been inadvertently chopped down to make a pathway for the snowmobiles. I was saddened by the discovery because this is one of the few GLLT properties with this deciduous conifer that looses most of its needles each fall. And that spot had also featured balsam fir, hemlock and white pine, making it the perfect outdoor classroom.
Add to that the pitch pines that grow by the first bench, and voilà! A lesson completed.
That made today’s discovery of the tamarack’s nubby twigs extra special and I knew that the tree spirits weren’t making fun of me, they were smiling upon me.
With that in mind, I was going to follow the trail back, but decided instead to journey for a bit beside the brook, where I found a deer bed in the sunniest of spots.
Eventually, I climbed up a hill and back to the trail, crossed through a stone wall to the neighboring property, continued on to a field and across that to a stump dump. Why go to such effort to reach a stump dump?
Because it’s actually a porcupine condominium hidden among the rocks and decaying tree stumps.
There were several entry ways–all showing the telltale signs of the pigpens of the woods.
Nipped twigs covered with a tad bit of fallen ice made me think the creators were snug inside and not over my head.
I did look up, but I did the same thing last week and didn’t see what others saw from a few feet back. That day, a porcupine was right over my head. Today, I didn’t think so, but the sun was bright and I couldn’t be absolutely certain. One may have been observing my actions from above.
And wondering what my fascination was with its scat. Check out those woody commas.
As I wandered about by the stump dump, something else also caught my eye–a promethea silkmoth cocoon.
At last I climbed back on to the porcupines’ rooftop and had to watch my step for there were several frosty vent holes and I didn’t want to land inside the humble abode.
As I stood there, I searched again for any quilled critters, but saw none. What I did see–that only a skeleton of a hemlock remained. It’s a tree the porcupines have spent more than several years denuding.
And in the tree next door, I noticed that they’d not yet reached the tip of one branch. Word has it that porcupines have many broken bones from falling out of trees. I’d love to be present when one returns for this leftover.
At last it was time for me to make my way out. I’d made a silly mistake today and thought that because it was so cold the snow would support me so I hadn’t worn snowshoes. Instead I created post holes with each step I took.
As I started across a five-acre field, my own spirit led the way–encouraging me not to give up despite the fact that I was tired.
And by the edge of the field, I did find a spirit hanging out. What was the cairn thinking? Maybe its expression as reflected at the base of the tree was one of disgust that I’d ventured forth in its space. Or perhaps it was forlorn that I was now taking my leave.
I chose to believe the latter and gave thanks for the opportunity to wander among the spirits of Long Meadow Brook.
Two weeks ago I traveled the trail at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Long Meadow Brook with several friends and much of our wonder was captured by intermingling lines.
All felt quite magical on that crisp January day as the encrusted twigs and buds offered a brilliant display.
It was made even more special because two of the three with whom I tramped were snowbirds who experienced the awe of our winter world. Despite all their layers, they felt like royalty living in an ice castle, glass slippers and all. (Don’t be fooled into thinking those are snowshoes strapped to their boots or winter hats rather than crowns.)
We made our way to the dam by the brook as the sun shifted lower and shadows lengthened. It didn’t matter for the sky was clear and we celebrated exploring the winter world of Lovell.
And then we backtracked a bit before crossing a property under conservation easement with the land trust and visited a porcupine condominium located in a large stump dump. The porkys didn’t let us down and we found prints leading into and out of seven or eight entry ways, along with downed hemlock twigs and scat. All perfect porcupine sign.
Since then, we’ve experienced a variety of mixed winter weather, but this past weekend a couple of inches of snow fell, making for great tracking conditions, such as this group made by a red squirrel, the two smaller feet being its front feet, which landed first, before the larger hind feet swung around and landed in front–the typical pattern left behind by a hopper or leaper. Its toes pointed toward my ruler, thus indicating the direction of travel.
Because it had been warm over the weekend, chipmunks made a brief appearance–rather than being true hibernators, they are light sleepers and will move about in the chambers within their tunnels. Occasionally, during a thaw, they’ll even venture out to forage for fresh seeds.
Notice how the straddle is about two inches, while the red squirrel above exhibited a straddle of about three inches. Straddle being the measurement from the outside of the left hind foot to the outside of the right hind foot. In case you are wondering, the measurement for gray squirrels is about four inches.
And then I came upon tracks so fresh that I was certain I might spy the two coyotes who traveled before me, but as is most often the case, I didn’t see them.
Following the snow, we had another downpour and everything changed. But then the temperature dipped again.
And so today when the GLLT’s Tuesday Trackers took to the trail at Long Meadow Brook Reserve, we were sure we’d find a plethora of well-made tracks. Only two problems. One: by the time Kathy, Dick, Mary, Russ, and I arrived, it was snowing lightly. And two: not too many mammals had been on the move in the last day or so. At least not in that neck of the woods.
We beelined (sort of, for we did stop to look at deer tracks) down to the old beaver dam hoping for otter sign or that of other weasels. Nada. Instead, we took in the view to the north.
And then to the south.
And headed toward the porcupine condo. But along the way, a couple of other things caught our attention, including a beech tree getting a head start on the next season.
And a pitch pine that was the gnarliest any of us had ever seen. Pitch pine needles, in bundles of three, grow on the branches but may also sprout on the trunk–a unique feature making for easy identification among the evergreens. But so many? On branches?
At last we reached a field where we welcomed sunshine to warm us up and noticed a few feathered friends. More than one junco scratched some bare ground in search of seeds.
As we crossed the field we rejoiced to have the track pattern of a gray squirrel to admire. Small things made us happy.
And then, at the top of one of the stump dumps we stood in awe of the Lorax tree. Only several branches had small fans of needles left; all the rest having been devoured by the local residents living below.
As we made our way into the hemlock grove to take a closer look, we spied what we believed to be a bobcat track based on straddle and stride, the latter being the distance from the toes of one print to the toes of the next print in the zigzag line. The overall impressions were a bit diluted indicating they were a few days old, but we’ve seen the same in this area before and the measurements led us to that conclusion. We also spotted downed hemlock twigs featuring the characteristic 45˚angled cut made by a porcupine.
By this time, our group had increased by two when Alice and Saranne joined us for the trip into the porcupine haven.
We peeked into holes, but suspected the homemakers had entered inner chambers.
We did find telltale tracks filled with the morning’s flurries, but still demonstrating their pigeon-toed pattern. And we saw that the bobcat had checked the holes as well before it moved on.
We decided to move on as well, climbing up onto the stump dump, but with a word of caution to watch out for steam holes. Hoar frost surrounded the holes and gave us further reason to believe that indeed the condo was occupied.
The very branch under which we saw one hole had fallen from a white pine. All around it were more porcupine prints.
As for the white pine’s needles–think of them as dinner. The same was true of a bent red oak branch and its buds. A little variety in the diet.
We too were ready to eat and so we headed out.
Another three hour tour and our curiosity was satiated at Long Meadow Brook Reserve and the adjacent property. A couple of benches await at Long Meadow Brook should you want to pause and take in the wonders yourself.
It’s Tuesday, which means time for a tramp through the woods–especially if you are a docent for the Greater Lovell Land Trust. We take our job seriously, filling our bags with field guides, hand lenses, binoculars, cameras, water, humor and wonder. The latter two are the key components and thankfully we’re all comfortable enough with each other to tell corny jokes and laugh at our misidentifications as we explore the natural world through curious eyes and minds, while sharing a brain.
And so today, though our intention was to look for fall wildflowers, we had much more to notice along the way, like the white spores of mushrooms decorating the surrounding haircap mosses.
And there were funnel sheet webs to examine, given that the morning fog left them dew covered and easier to spot.
Though we wanted to take a closer look at the creators of such fine work, and tried gently touching webs with pine needles, our antics obviously vibrated more than your ordinary bug might, and the spiders ran into their funnels to hide.
As we’d driven to the Long Meadow Brook Reserve, we’d spotted a field of medium-sized white pines decorated with webs and were thrilled to find the same on saplings.
The bowl and doily spider is another member of the sheet species, and it builds webs that consist of two intricate parts. Above is the bowl, an inverted dome, and below, the lacier doily. The spider hangs upside down beneath the bowl, but above the doily, waiting for dinner to drop in.
Trying to see the tiny bowl and doily spiders requires getting down on all fours and looking through a hand lens for they are only about 3-4 millimeters in length. We did and were successful in our efforts.
It seemed today that nothing escaped spider activity, including the gone-by fruits of bristly sarsaparilla.
Equally delightful in the making was an orb web outlined in dew, larger droplets highlighting each spoke, with smaller ones on the sticky silken spirals.
In several openings, pilewort grew in abundance.
Like a field of cotton, its dandelion-like seedheads were prolific.
But really, I preferred the seed display to the petal-less flowerhead that emerges from the cylindrical cluster.
Also prolific were the female cones atop the white pines, their brown color indicating they were in their second or third year of development, having been wind pollinated by tiny male cones. The pollen cones fall of trees within a few days of decorating our vehicles, outdoor furniture, and naked female seeds with yellow dust. If you think back to spring and all the little rice krispies that decorated the ground below white pines, you’ll know that you were looking at male cones. The seed cones typically form on the uppermost branches, so that the tree won’t pollinate itself from below, but can receive pollen blowing in the breeze from another tree.
We’d looked high to see the cones, and then drew our eyes lower and thrilled with the sight of one of our tallest perennials.
At first we only spied one pokeweed growing in an opening, but then began to spot others in flower and . . .
Another one of our surprises–still flowering blueberries. The plants themselves didn’t look too happy . . .
and we wondered if there would be enough energy or time for the fruit to form.
As we ambled along, we found cinnabar-red polypores,
and polypores know for their . . .
underside labyrinth of pores that look like gills.
And we found another type that had spread brown spores.
Making our way down to the brook, we were stumped by a pile of dirt, small hole about one-half inch across and chewed mushroom. We remain stumped, so if you have a clue, we’ll listen. It was a messy dooryard so we didn’t suspect a chipmunk, plus the hole wasn’t wide enough. Voles eat vegetation. Could it be? Was it even made by a mammal?
Along the same route, we made another fun find. White oak saplings.
White oak grows in surrounding towns–Fryeburg, Sweden, Brownfield, Waterford, but not in Lovell or Stow, where this property was located. So, how did it arrive? Two theories–it was on a skidder trail, so could have come in on a machine; or perhaps via airmail from a bird. Long ago, white oaks grew in this area, but were used for barrel making. And because their acorns contain less tannin than that of a Northern red oak, mammals devour them quickly, thus making it more difficult for the trees to regenerate.
It took us a while, but finally we reached the old beaver dam and culvert by the brook, where the fall foliage was subtle at best, but still beautiful. We walked (if you can call it that) for 2.5 hours and covered all of .95 miles. It was hot and muggy, so we felt like we’d covered 9.5 miles, but as always were thankful for our time spent lingering at Long Meadow Brook.
My intention yesterday afternoon was to focus on the plants and trees at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s newest reserve, Long Meadow Brook. But I also wanted to check out the new parking area created as part of an Eagle Scout project by Bridgton’s Troop 149.
While the logging road cut by the previous owner to the landing during a 2014 thinning was untouched for the creation of the parking area, some of the log landing (staging area to remove logs from the site) was used to create a smooth space for vehicles. Kudos to the Scouts and other volunteers for building the lot.
To the left of the parking area stands a kiosk. If you go, please note that the trail was first tagged last summer and though trail work was done this week, it’s brand new and not yet well tramped.
Your best bet is to keep an eye on the trail signs. Most are blue circles painted on a white background and nailed to the trees. But . . . at least one offered a more creative take as it appeared someone was thinking outside the lines. 😉
So yes, I went to make an initial inventory and began on the driveway to the parking lot, where the blossoms of coltsfoot have now turned to seed. Remains of the former flower continued to exist among the white fluff of the seeds’ parachutes.
In the same place grew dandelions, providing a comparison as their seed heads were fancier in form.
It was on the driveway also, that common mullein showed off its soft leaves as it grew among the equisetum or horsetail.
One in particular was ready to spring forth with new life.
Though there were examples of last year’s mullein flowers along the driveway, it was on the trail that I spied a group of them, looking much like the cacti of the north.
There were other look alikes to note–this being a woodland horsetail that can be mistaken for a pine sapling.
Both have whorled branching, but pine featured packets of five straight needles , while the horsetail branches were divided and dangling.
A spittlebug larva took advantage of one pine sapling and covered itself with froth to keep predators away.
White pine saplings are numerous on this 98-acre property, where the former owner left many older pines that create a cathedral-like space.
One of my favorite species were the pitch pines, though this one appeared to have been used perhaps as a turning tree, with its bark on one side scraped off.
At my feet, I also found common speedwell,
and pipsissewa–though not common, not un-common either.
There was wintergreen showing off its new growth with tiny blossoms forming between light green leaves,
and a red trillium, its flower passed by and fruit production in the works.
Speaking of fruit, lowbush blueberries were loaded with future treats.
And then there were those species that feature other-worldy presentations such as the Indian cucumber root.
Likewise, the great bladder sedge with its fruit sacs pointed up and out.
A variety of ferns grow there, including wood ferns with sori maturing on the underside of the blades.
I found a small striped maple with leaves as big as a dinner plate.
And multiple maple-leaved viburnums in flower, this one with . . .
beetles canoodling. 😉
Because I was looking down so much, and no walk is compete without such a find, I saw an oak apple gall.
And similar in shape for its round form, snowshoe hare scat.
On the preserve are two small clearcuts. A bench has been installed at the two-acre lot.
This is also the spot where a wildlife blind provides its own point of view.
The six-acre opening faces the Baldface Mountains to the west.
But my favorite view was at the old beaver dam, where Long Meadow Brook passes through. I wanted to spend more time there because there was much to see and ID, but the mosquitoes thought I was sweet.
Fortunately, there were plenty of dragonflies, such as this chalk-fronted corporal, who thought the mosquitoes were sweet.
That’s not all chalk-fronted liked, for this was his female counterpart.
Long Meadow Brook is the perfect place to meet some dragonflies, including the lancet club tail with yellow daggers running down the back of its abdomen.
And a white face-so named for the whitish face below the bulging eyes.
Hanging vertically as was its custom, a stream cruiser.
Damselflies, too, flew about, including familiar bluets.
But it was the metallic green of the sedge sprite that wowed me.
And when I thought I’d seen all that the land had to offer, I suddenly found myself in the place of the calico pennants.
Its their wings that amazed me the most and made me think of stained glass windows.
I happened upon them just before I passed back through the cathedral in the pines, as seems apropos.
While they focused on the abundant prey and each other to do their own canoodling (my guy and I heard that term mentioned recently and it made us chuckle), I had to finally pull my attention away. But . . . I’ll be keeping my eye on Long Meadow Brook Reserve. With pleasure.
Last month the Greater Lovell Land Trust purchased a new property along Long Meadow Brook that further develops the wildlife corridor. A couple of weeks ago I first visited it with GLLT’s Executive Director Tom Henderson and a number of the land trust’s volunteer docents. As we left the property, Tom said to me, “I didn’t oversell this, did I, when I said this will become one of the docents’ favorite properties.” Indeed.
And so I couldn’t wait to get back there myself to spend a few hours exploring the almost one-hundred-acre reserve.
Because the land was last logged by the previous owner in 2014, it’s in the early succession stage of regrowth.
And so, it’s a place where those who like disturbed places tend to grow, such as the common mullein. What surprised me most was that I found a few still offering blooms.
Of course, it reminded me that I was in the great West–WESTern Maine, that is–with its occasional cacti-like form.
Scattered throughout are also the seedheads of white lettuce, waiting for release in lampshade-like formation.
Orange-peel fungi fruited prolifically in the gravel logging road.
That was all before I even reached the future parking lot, which had served as the log landing a few years ago. Already, sweet ferns and berry bushes have made themselves known.
The leaves of sweet fern, which is really a shrub rather than a fern, exhibited their version of autumn hues.
If you go, I encourage you to look for the blue ribbons that indicate where a future trail will be placed. It’s a loop trail that summer interns Hannah and Aidan laid out and leads to two focal features.
The trail nears a neighboring property, which just happens to also be under conservation easement thanks to the foresight of its owners. I stepped off the blue flag trail and started to follow the wall for a bit–noticing that soon it changed from a double (garden or plowed land) wall to a single wall. A large pasture pine grew at the change-over point.
And where the wall switched to single formation, barbed wire indicated its former use a pasture boundary. And white pine scales indicated its current use–as a red squirrel’s dining room table.
After moving away from the wall, I noticed the mountains in the offing and ferns and young trees already filling in the empty spaces.
One of my favorite mountains to climb stood tall in the backdrop–Mount Kearsarge.
My bearings were off a bit, but I knew where the eastern boundary was as I moved across this opening.
Walking along the back edge, my tree passion was ignited yet again.
Several pitch pines grow in this space. While the bark is similar to that of red pines, it’s platier (is that a word?). And the tufts of needles that grow along the trunk were a dead give-away.
But . . . I always quiz myself and so I looked around. And right below the trees, pitch pine cones and the triple needle bundles common to this species.
It was here that I discovered wintergreen growing by the base of a tree stump. What made me wonder was the amount of fruit on each plant. Yes, wintergreen grows prolifically in all of western Maine, but I can’t recall ever seeing so many little red globes dangling below the leaves.
From my half-circle around the opening, I wasn’t positive about my whereabouts and so decided to follow the land downhill because it looked like there may be an opening below. A few minutes later, I realized I was in a marshy spot where the cinnamon ferns grew. And the earth beneath my feet was rather spongy and damp.
I reached what I thought was the meadow I sought–only to realize that I was looking at a beaver lodge. I knew that beaver lodge, but from a different perspective–the neighbors’ property.
And then something else caught my attention.
Tamarack (aka larch) trees–our only deciduous conifers, which had turned a golden yellow as is their autumn habit.
The spray of tamarack needles reminded me of witch hazel flowers, which also grow on this property. But soon, the former will drop, leaving only their barrel-like stems as a reminder of their presence.
I left that spot, retraced my steps and headed to the north on a cross-country bushwhack, where the mauve colored maple-leaf viburnum grew.
I saw lots of mammal sign and even a few birds, including turkeys who are loving the fact that this is a mast year for acorns.
At last I emerged onto the trail I remembered and headed downhill again.
And then . . . I was rewarded for my efforts. Long Meadow Brook and the mountains beyond provided a WOW moment.
I looked to the east for a few minutes.
And then turned west again, where the layers and colors spoke of diversity.
Even the dead snags added beauty.
Cat-in-nine tails added to the view and I noted others who like wet feet including steeplebush, meadowsweet and bulrushes growing along the old beaver dam. It’s also a place for a variety of evergreen species–hemlock, white pine, balsam fir, red spruce and tamaracks. Future teaching moments await.
My intention to stick to the trail was soon thwarted when I spied hobblebush.
Like all trees and shrubs, the future was already encased in a bud–in this case a bud we refer to as naked because it doesn’t have the waxy coating of most others. Methinks its furry presentation offers the same protection from winter’s cold.
And as I studied the back side of fallen leaves, I paid attention to the venation–reminiscent of the bud’s pattern.
In the glow of sunlight, I felt like I’d found the pot of gold.
A short time later I reached the second opening that Hannah and Aidan’s trail encompasses. And what to my wondering eyes should appear–a meadowhawk dragonfly.
It provided a sharp contrast to snow on the Baldface Mountains.
It was at this six-acre opening that I poked around for a while longer. And watched a goshawk fly to a pine tree with something dangling from its talons. Did I take a photo? No, of course not. I was too mesmerized to focus my camera. But sometimes, the photo doesn’t matter. Being there in the moment does.
I’m thankful for such opportunities made possible by organizations such as the Greater Lovell Land Trust. I know that ultimately this property is for the mammals that travel through and I saw plenty of evidence that they use this place. But then again, I’m a mammal who also appreciates the land bridges created and opportunity to observe the connectivity. I spent the day getting to know the way of the land at Long Meadow Brook Reserve–and can’t wait to return.