A Closer Look

In my continued quest to capture spring, I spent the morning taking a closer look.

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Lest I take myself too seriously, let me begin by saying my inspection wasn’t always as thorough as it might have been. I was wowed when I discovered a four-flowered starflower. I know they can produce up to five, but typically I see one, two or three flowers. Um . . . I think this is actually two plants. Oops. The great discoverer I have yet to become.

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But check out the wild sarsaparilla with its three globe-shaped umbels.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever actually noticed the green-petals that fold back. And it’s a tad bit hairy.

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Whenever I see the common buttercup I’m transported to my childhood–we placed it under each other’s chins. If your chin reflected the yellow glow that meant you liked butter. Mine never failed.  😉

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And then it was the tiarella that pulled me down.

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Its terminal cluster of flowers is said to resemble foam, thus the common name of foam flower.

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Holy stamens! Each spray of a flower consists of five sepals (outer circle that appear petal-like), five petals that narrow as if they form a stalk, ten yellow-anthered stamen and two pistils, one of which is longer than the other. Amazing. And more hair!

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Because it’s equally beautiful, bountiful and birdlike–I couldn’t resist another pause for  fringed polygala or gaywings.


The next attention getter–the double-toothed American elm leaf with its asymmetrical base.

p-ph beech leaves

I love to contrast it with beech leaves. Apparently, both are quite tasty.

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And I found a culprit. One of many. I know that the caterpillars and insects have to eat, but  it seems like the leaves work so hard to protect themselves only to be munched upon in a short span of time. So much for the protective hairs.


What I really wanted to focus on, however, was the ferns. Last week’s crosiers are this week’s fronds and fertile stalks.

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I guess I’m most fascinated by the manner of the tiny green spore beads clustered together–in some ways they mimic the shape of a frond. Again, hair.

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Already, a few are turning the cinnamon color for which they are known.

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Upon one, I found a crane fly. Check out those body segments and spindly legs. Adult crane flies, like May flies, don’t eat. Their mission in life–to mate and lay eggs.

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Because they like the same conditions, interrupted fern grows nearby. In this case, the fertile leaflets interrupt the sterile ones.

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It’s another beady appearance a tinge darker in color and the presentation is different.

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I think my favorite of all (don’t tell the others) is the royal fern. Maybe it’s because my friend Judy calls me the queen. I’m not sure what I’m the queen of, but I do love the crown that is beginning to unfurl.

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Maybe it’s the elegant structure. Or that fact that no other is like it, so I can easily identify it. The spore cases are clustered at the tip of the fern giving it a bit of a crown appearance.

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The other fern that grows in this place hasn’t developed its separate fertile stalk yet. What drew me to the sensitive fern this morning was the drops of dew that gathered on the frond–and offered a magnification of its veins. A glimpse into its life-giving force.

I hope you’ll make time this spring to take a closer look and wonder about the world around you.


Sweet Treat Mondate

My guy and I have been overdue for our favorite kind of Mondate, so today we rose to the task. Our intention had been to depart at 7:30, but it was closer to 8am before we were out the door.


Following Route 302 through Crawford Notch, the clouds were rather ominous.


But that didn’t matter because our first stop was Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, where we each enjoyed the sampler combo–six three-inch pancakes and we split our servings of sausage and bacon. I tried buckwheat with walnuts, oatmeal buttermilk with chocolate chips and plain with blueberries. The latter were my favorite. Topped with butter and their own maple syrup, of course. By pancake number 4, I had to force myself to continue . . . and I did.

trot trot

When at Polly’s, one must say hello to Trot Trot, or in this case, Trot Trot III.

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Because our timing was near perfect, the lupines were in bloom. You may want to skip down a few photos–I got carried away as usual.

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lupine field

lupines forever

lupine purplelupine white

lupine looking down

oh  beautiful

emerson quote

Yes, indeed!


For me, no visit to Sugar Hill is complete without pausing at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. My guy knows that my dream had been to get married there and have the invitations read “First Sunday in September.” So, that didn’t happen, but we still like to stop by.

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Another quick stop was at the stone iron furnace built after the Revolutionary War for smelting local iron ore. It’s in Franconia–think Franconia Stoves.

Coppermine Trail

Finally, we reached the trail head.

bridal veil sign

Our destination–Bridal Veil Falls on the back side of Cannon Mountain.


So, this photo is a bit fuzzy, but do you see what I see? Maybe it’s both. Maybe it doesn’t matter.


For much of the trail, we walked beside Coppermine Brook or could hear it coursing over the rocks. At times, we walked on rocks–reminded me of climbing on jettys in Connecticut when I was a kid.

lemonade stand

I’m pretty sure this must have been the former site of a lemonade stand. What?

sign on rock

So, you may be wondering if he was heading into the water–a tad bit chilly. Actually, he found the plaque Bette Davis, yes, THE Bette Davis, had placed on a rock in memory of Arthur Farnsworth, a local man she married. Here’s the story according to White Mountains Map Book:  “The great actress BETTE DAVIS summered in this area. In a famous 1939 episode, she lost her way on what is now Coppermine Trail and was rescued by local worker Arthur Farnsworth. Romance blossomed and the couple married in 1940. Farnsworth died tragically in 1943. Davis had a memorial plaque placed on a rock in the brook near where she was rescued.” As my guy can attest, the plaque has Farnsworth’s name and is dedicated to the “Keeper of Stray Ladies.”

foam flower

Foamflower or Tiarella was beginning to bloom.

wood sorrel

And the wood sorrel. I love its candy-striped petals.

stack of mushrooms

The lush woods are loaded with mushrooms, including these hemlock varnish shelves–stacked up like pancakes.

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There are many rock islands like this one beside the path. Yellow Clintonia or Bluebead Lily is one of the inhabitants. I was thinking as I walked about all of the spring ephemerals and how they have to flower before the trees leaf out. They are abundant along the trail. And their fruits will be equally beautiful. But their timing must be amazing. Their challenges include not only the leaves of the canopy closing out the sun, but also the timing of the snow melt and subsequent run-off. No wonder they are so quick.


Just before reaching the falls, we came upon the shelter filled with the stories of many who have spent a moment or night here.

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Bridal Veil Falls. Bridle Veil Falls. Whatever your pleasure. Certainly, beauty in motion.

Before we drove home via the Kanc, we stopped in Lincoln for ice cream. An extra sweet Mondate topped with hot fudge sauce.