Second One Act Play: Return to the Bog

Act One, Scene One.

Setting: The forest road, a two-mile walk from the closed gate.

Sound effects: Chickadees singing cheeseburger songs and White-throated Sparrows inquiring about Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.

Props: Birch, maple and aspen trees leafing out.

Cast: Mourning Cloak butterflies in full mourning regalia.

Scene Two.

Setting: A bog.

Sound effects: Wind in the trees, a certain Grackle with a regular rusty-gate note; turtles plopping into water; Canada geese honking like bullfrogs.

Cast: Western Conifer Seed Bug upon a wooden wildlife blind.

Stage clothes: Dressed to the nines in a traditional afternoon ensemble.

Scene Three: Flowers of the bog.

Set decorations: Hobblebush in flower and featuring a crab spider in the wings.

Sessile-leaved Bellwort showcasing its flowerhead in a subtle manner.

The cast grows: one Painted Turtle.

Two Painted Turtles.

Four plus Painted Turtles.

Scene Four.

Setting; a tree snag.

Cast: a Grackle posing beside a potential nesting site.

Scene Five.

Cast: An American Wigeon located at twelve o’clock in the circle of Canada Geese.

Main character: Female American Wigeon donning a warm brown body, grayish head with smudge around her eye, and pale bill tipped in black.

Supporting characters: Canada geese in preening mode.

Action: The Wigeon swims back and forth as the geese preen.

Has perhaps the duck imprinted upon the geese?

She watches every movement as she munches upon the bog grasses.

This is the second in one act plays dramatized at the bog where the Wigeon’s behavior is questioned by humans but hardly by the geese.

Stay tuned for the next one act play as life plays out at the bog.

Spring In Slo-Mo

Spring is so fleeting in Maine. Oh, I know, it lasts the usual three months and the beginning and ending overlap with its seasonal partners, but really . . . one must take time to pause and watch or you’ll miss the most amazing action that occurs in slow motion right outside the window–and beyond.

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Jinny Mae and I drove beyond today to catch a glimpse of this most splendid season.

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Among the offerings, red trillium also known as stinking Benjamin. The Benjamin part is from benzoin, a mid-16th century word derived from the French benjoin, that refers to “a fragrant gum resin obtained from a tropical tree of eastern Asia, used in medicines, perfumes, and incense.”  It’s been tagged “stinking”  because its nodding flower has an unpleasant odor. We didn’t bother to sniff. We were too busy being wowed by the fact that it surrounded us in great number.

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That smell, however, is of extreme importance. Along with the flashy coloration, the odor helps to attract pollinators–green flesh-flies that prefer to lay their eggs on rotting meat. Though this isn’t the perfect nursery, the flies assist the plant on the procreative end. And in this spot, stinking Benjamin rules, but I prefer to think of it as red trillium.

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Even from the backside, its design is one to behold.

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Equally abundant were the leafy structures of false hellebore.

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I was mesmerized by its pattern.

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Unlike the trillium, wood anemones have little scent.

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Their graceful heads drooped, perhaps because the day threatened rain.

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The offerings included sessile-leaved bellwort (aka wild oats),

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Dutchman’s breeches with leaves as interesting as their flowers,

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the delicate white flowers of dwarf ginseng,

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and  zigzag pattern of clasping twisted stalk.

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Its key features are minutely-toothed leaf margins, stalkless leaves that clasp the stem, and flowers dangling below.

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The flowers hadn’t opened, but the closer we got, the more we appreciated its finer details.

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Ever so slowly, as is the case in all things, hobblebush flowers began to bloom.

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Outer sterile flowers form a ring around the delicate inner flowers that are fertile. Nature has a way of protecting its own.

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When we first spotted the fluff ball of seeds across the brook, we thought we were looking at dandelions. And then we saw the scaled stalks and lack of leaves. Coltsfoot it is.

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It wasn’t just the flowers that had us getting down on our hands and knees. There was the brownish wool covering of the cinnamon fern.

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And the hairless ostrich fern

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with its crook-shaped crosier, reminiscent of a bishop’s staff.

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But my favorite today was one I’d never noticed before.

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Oh, I know it’s a Christmas fern, but the tightly-wound, silvery-scaled crosiers were new to me. It was yet another chance for us to wonder how we could have missed something that’s been here all along.

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And then we looked up. Well, sort of up. Striped maple leaves slowly opened in the understory.

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And have you ever noticed that young red maples are a tad hairy along the margin?

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Even hairer, beech leaves.

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All winter long, bud scales enclosed leaves that are now slowly emerging.

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They’re absolutely beautiful in their plaited and hairy state.

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What leaves me wondering (ah, a pun), is the fact that these leaves are so hairy. It seems the hairs are intended to keep insects and others at bay.

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And yet, it won’t be long before the insects discover that beech leaves make a good meal and home.

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Speaking of insects, we found a ladybug presumably feeding on aphids–already. So why do ladybugs sport  bright orange or red color and distinctive spots? To make them unappealing to predators. They can secrete a foul-tasting fluid from their leg joints–the coloring is therefore intended to shout out,  “I taste awful.”

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And Jinny Mae sported her own insect–a Mayfly, known to be more fleeting than spring, landed on her jacket. Oh, and did I mention the black flies? They swarmed our faces, but we practiced mind over matter.

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We were in one of the most beautiful places on Earth,

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as evidenced by brook,  pond and mountains beyond.

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And then there was the gorge.

As we watched the water rush through, we gave thanks for a day spent moving in slo-mo to take in all that this fleeting season has to offer in its spring ephemerals.