Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shades of Green

August 1 and August 9, 2012
Mud Pond, Moreau Lake State Park

How much of beauty – of color, as well as form –
on which our eyes daily rest
goes unperceived by us !
No one but a botanist is like to distinguish nicely
the different shades of green
with which the open surface of the earth is clothed –
not even a landscape-painter
if he does not know the species of sedges and grasses
which paint it.
HDT Journal, August 1, 1860

Today, August 9th, is the anniversary of the publication of Walden !

How better to observe the occasion than by walking with the Thursday Naturalists – and at my own favorite place in the world, to boot!

I am the Trail Steward for the trail that circles around Mud Pond, so it was my honor to have them visit. 
Jackie was leading the walk. We both come here fairly often. Not only could I steer them to a certain plant or two along this familiar trail, but they-- most surely-- could show me something new.

Jackie and I had done a scouting-walk a week earlier, to see what might be of especial interest to our botanizing friends. We thought that an area of shoreline we call the Delta would be a fruitful place for “the TNs” to explore.  It’s where a seasonal stream comes down to the pond’s edge.
It's dry at this time of year, so we’d be able to follow the streambed down, from the trail to the waterside.

The water is quite low in Mud Pond -- it is living up to its name now.
But that makes it easier for shoreline browsing --  for us and for deer,
who left plenty of tracks along the soft edges of the pond.
You could see where they had selectively nibbled the leafy tops of the
Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants along the stream.

Just as Jackie and I were leaving that first day, a Swallowtail butterfly came to visit, sampling the tiny flowers of Blue Vervain.

We also saw an American Lady butterfly, who is quite colorful on top –
when her wings are open.  But she would not open her wings flat.
She perched, folded, to reveal a second and equally beautiful lacy pattern below. They greatly resemble the Painted Lady butterfly, but if you can see only the underwing, remember that “American Ladies have Big Eyes!”
A week later, we met the Naturalists at the north end of the pond.  First stop: the dry sandy powerline area, to see Bluecurls --
Art-Nouveau in indigo:

As soon as we walked to that first view of the pond, we saw an adult Bald Eagle lift up from the shoreline, and fly across the water. That was quite a treat, as we usually see eagles here only in the winter.
He perched on the far side among the pines, where it was difficult to see him in the hazy morning air.
He stayed awhile, watching these curious humans -- humans who stared at the ground and every so often exclaimed with delight at the many shoreline treasures.

At the pond's edge, we found Utricularia gibba – Humped Bladderwort --
tiny pale balloons coming up out of the mud.
Mud Pond is as low as I have ever seen it.

We trod carefully on a fine green carpet of Water-Purslane, False Pimpernel.
Along the shoreline there were other colors sprinkled in.
I always pickup when on the trail – the odd bottle or candy-wrapper
here and there.
This is the creepiest litter I have found yet:
(Wonder how she got here?)
All in all, it was a fine way to spend the morning, and despite having to do a bit of bush-wacking to get to the Delta, I trust that my botanist-friends had a good time too!


  1. What fun to revisit that Mud Pond walk with you! Your dragonfly and butterfly photos are amazing.

  2. It's the bugs that are amazing, I just happen to be there and catch them on film. Or, er, in pixels.

  3. Love the opening quote.
    Wish I could be there with your naturalist friend.