Today after lunch I decided to talk Penny out for a walk. It was raining, but I have rain pants, a rain coat, and a nice Tilly hat (which goes everywhere I do, rain, snow, or shine anyhow). My thought was to go out to Sandogardy Pond and see if the Clintonia borealis was in bloom yet. I can never remember the common names for that, but I think blue-bead lily and corn lily are both used.

Just before I crossed Sandogardy Pond Road, I spotted a bunch of these:

Black Choke Cherry (Photinia melanocarpa)

Black Choke Cherry (Photinia melanocarpa)


I have one of these on my property growing up under the guy wire that supports the utility pole in the corner of the yard. I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I sent a decent photo off to Mr Smarty Plants, and he/she/they identified it for me. The one at my house has flowers on it, but there are still tightly closed. To my joy, I found two more of these bushes near it yesterday. There are thousands of these up on Mount Major in Alton, but I don’t get up that way very often. I didn’t know about these by Sandogardy Pond Road until today.

In spite of the common name, these are not really cherries at all. Cherries belong to the genus Prunus, as do plums and peaches. So plums and peaches are closer to cherries than black choke cherries are. Botanists must be having a really tough time trying to figure this one out actually, as it has half a dozen synonyms:

  • Aronia arbutifolia
  • Aronia melanocarpa
  • Aronia nigra
  • Pyrus arbutifolia
  • Pyrus melanocarpa
  • Sorbus melanocarpa

As you can see, it has been placed in no fewer than four genera. Anyhow, I pressed on.

On the way to the pond I decided to take a detour. There are snowmobile trails through the town forest, which the road to Sandogardy borders. One of them leads to the town’s sand pit. I turned onto that path. A few hundred yards up that trail, I heard a woodpecker. It was hammering away on the tree I was standing next to. I took a picture, but I guess my camera’s just not up to zooms. (Or it could be a problem with the photographer).

Then I came across this tastefully adorned stick:

Fungus on a stick

Fungus on a stick

I got to the sandpit and walked around its rim. Near the back is a huge pile of trash where people have been partying. It’s right next to the stream that drains Sandogardy, and it’s not a pretty sight. I went to the stream’s edge and looked about, hoping to see some ducks, herons, or turtles, but no such luck. I turned around.

Just as the path reaches the sandpit, it is crossed by another. I turned east, because that would lead deeper into the woods, towards the railroad tracks. I figured the trail would either stop at the stream’s edge, or lead over a bridge, but having never been down that path before, wasn’t sure which. Turns out the trail ends at the stream’s edge, and there’s another party site. This one was not nearly as trashy, though there were two abandoned and broken-down tents there, as well as two campfire sites, and several beer bottles. Dunno why people can’t clean up after themselves. I could see the stream just t othe east of the trail, so I did a little bushwhacking and was rewarded with this:

Lush Wetland

Lush Wetland


When I see something like this, it makes me want to go out and buy a pair of waders. Penny and I turned back to the trail and headed for the pond. It was so beautiful, I snapped another shot:
On the Trail

On the Trail


The leaves have opened this week, and between that and the rain, everything looked so clean and fresh. I was soaking it in (figuratively only though – my rain ear prevented it in a literal sense).

We got to the pond and I looked for the Clintonia. It was there, and it was in bloom, just as I had hoped it would be:

Blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis)

Blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis)

I continued down the path to the beach, and then walked the shore back towards the stream that empties the pond (which turns into the wetland above). I saw some pickerelweed coming up through the water, but that won’t bloom until this summer. From what I’ve seen, none of the aquatic plants around Sandogardy bloom until summer, except perhaps the water lilies, but it’s too soon even for those.

I returned to the beach, and walked along the boundary between it and the forest looking for bunchberries. Found some!

Common Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Common Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)


Contrary to appearances, these have not technically bloomed yet. Those “petals” are really sepals. They will turn white later. The “real” petals are still tightly closed and bunched up in the center. After they bloom, the plant will turn them into some really bright red berries. Peterson says they are edible and describes the berries as insipid-tasting. I’ve never tried them, but maybe I will this year.

I turned my attention back to the pond and saw several Great Blue Heron tracks under the water. These were on the smallish side, but I still enjoyed seeing them. Penny and I then turned back towards the house. I unleashed her though, so I could rinse the sand out of her tether and then keep it clean. I usually let her drag it along as we walk (until we get to the road). That way she can run ahead, find sticks, beg me to throw them, chase them down, bring them back, and beg to do it again. She lives for that.

It was a very nice walk.

In other news, Jonathan’s flight to Heathrow was cancelled due to volcanism. He has booked another tomorrow night. Methinks the chances of that one getting cancelled are also pretty high. We’ll have to see.

I finished reading The Last Place on Earth the night before last. It’s an account of Amundson and Scott’s race to the South Pole. I had read another blogger’s take on it just after reading True North (which chronicles Peary and Cook’s race to the North Pole). Both were good books. I came away incredibly impressed with Roald Amundson, as he was the type of leader I want to be. He planned everything and left very little to chance. Contrasted with Scott, who planned almost nothing and left everything to chance. They both made the pole (Amundson first), but Scott’s party did not survive the ordeal. Amundson’s party didn’t have an ordeal, even though they faced nearly identical conditions. Roald rocked.