trees


I have been busy lately. I started a new job earlier this month, and it is sure eating into my leisure time. I decided today that it was time to make time to take a few photos. I stopped at a “secret” park near my church. I call it secret because there is no sign on the road alerting the public to its presence. I had driven by it maybe a thousand times before I knew it was there, and only spotted it from satellite photos while playing around on Google Maps a few years ago.

But the park is there, and it has wildflowers. I stopped for maybe ten minutes. First up was some tower mustard. I have this growing along the south side of my house.

Tower mustard (Arabis glabra)

Tower mustard (Arabis glabra)

The yarrow is blooming now too:

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

And the king devil is out. Some people call this yellow hawkweed, but “king devil” definitely has a more adventurous ring to it.

King devil (Hieracium pratense)

King devil (Hieracium pratense)

The birdsfoot trefoil has been in bloom for a while, but I think this is my first shot of it this year.

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Then I found this unfortunate fellow.

Deer?

Deer?

This is only about half its spine. All together, I estimate that the spine was at least three feet long, and maybe more. There aren’t a lot of animals around here that are that big – deer, bear, coyote, and sometimes beaver. I think this is a deer, but I’m really only guessing. It looks like it has been picked pretty clean.

Not far from the skeleton I saw a black locust in bloom. Most people don’t know it, but these flowers are edible, and indeed, they are very sweet and quite palatable. I ate this bunch after I took its picture for you.

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

On the way back up the hill towards the car I found some white campion.

White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)

And then I saw this clump of yellow sorrel.

Common yellow sorrel (Oxalis stricta)

Common yellow sorrel (Oxalis stricta)


These are also good to eat. As most kids can tell you, they are very sour (in a good way). That sourness comes from oxalic acid (hence the genus name). Too much of it is said to be bad for you, but kids everywhere seem to pay that no heed whatsoever.

Then it was back to the car, and off to work.

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Friday I had planned to go on a hike in the White Mountains, but I’d have had to have gone alone if I had gone at all. Jonathan was home for the holiday but woke up feeling unwell. David had never committed (too early for him), and I made the mistake of never telling Beth until the evening before. Oops. So instead I puttered around the house.

Jonathan suggested that we hike somewhere on Saturday after church instead. Since I was itching for a nice walk, I immediately suggested Oak Hill, which is part of Concord’s trail system. He began inviting others from church, and pretty soon we had half a dozen people lined up.

This was the goal:

Oak Hill Fire Tower

Oak Hill Fire Tower


It was only a little more than a mile from the trailhead, but we had a couple of people along who were not much used to hiking, so that was plenty. Also, it gets dark a little past 4:00pm now, so we only had three hours of daylight for this one.

It was brisk, but quite lovely. When we reached the fire tower we stopped to catch our breath for a few minutes. Then we climbed the tower. I could see Mount Kearsarge to the west.

Mount Kearsarge

Mount Kearsarge


Kearsarge is what they call a “prominence” because it stands alone – no other mountains around it. As a result, it’s not nearly as tall as it looks. I’ve been to its peak on several occasions and intend to go back there again one of these days.

Although this trail system is maintained by the City of Concord, the fire tower is just over the town line in Loudon. There’s a stone wall that divides the two towns in the vicinity of the trail, and they have a marker there to designate its significance.

Boundary Marker

Boundary Marker


Here’s a closer shot of the engraving.
C.L. 1898

C.L. 1898


I assume “C.L. 1898” Means Concord/Loudon, and that the marker was erected in 1898. It was probably set up shortly after a survey.

We headed back down the trail again shortly after that.

The Descent

The Descent

I particularly like the look of the trail as it entered this section of hemlock:

Into the Hemlocks

Into the Hemlocks

We got back to the trailhead and then took our companions home -in their mother’s van – my car didn’t have enough room for 6 people, so she suggested that we trade vehicles for the afternoon. I thought that was a brilliant plan. 🙂 Too bad I didn’t think to grab my GPS from the car though – there were several geocaches we could have collected along the trail. Maybe next time.

When we got to their house, we ad some hot chocolate and a short visit. Then we went home.

On Thanksgiving Day, I took Penny out for a walk before any of the kids were up. It was 27 degrees outside, and there was a nice frost. As usual, we headed for Sandogardy Pond. Penny likes to take the shortcut through the forest-that-is-now-a-field. That’s because when we get there I let her off the leash so she can chase sticks. Here she is bringing me one.

Cottontail Heaven

Cottontail Heaven


This ex-forest will be a forest again I suppose, but right now it’s an ideal habitat for the eastern cottontail.

I tried to capture the frost on the coppices, but utterly failed. I was getting a lot of lens flare, and even when I shaded the lens with my hand, it still turned out suboptimally. So I turned my attention to the macro level. Here’s a sensitive fern.

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)


It’s called that because it is sensitive to frost. When the first frost arrives, it turns brown and dies back for the season. We had our first frost long ago, so this one has been brown for a while.

I liked this little pine/fern display. I’m assuming the cones are from a white pine because that’s what predominates here. The fern could be Christmas, Lady, or Hay-scented. I didn’t look closely enough to tell.

Cones and Ferns

Cones and Ferns

When we got the the pond I found that it had already begun to freeze over.

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond


It was thick enough at the edge that I was able to stand on it. Had it broken, I’d have gotten my shoes wet, but not much more. I didn’t dare venture any farther than three inches deep, because that would have been incredibly irresponsible and foolish.

I hope all of you had as good a Thanksgiving as I did.

Saturday Va took the Adventurer Club to Ken’s farm. I worked on a few patches with my group (Trees and Beavers). Va worked with her group on something else, but I don’t know what. The plan was to go down to a beaver pond after that, and since the weather was threatening, we decided to make the run sooner rather than later.

Ken took us down to his brother’s farm where there was an active beaver pond. I would say they have been quite active by the looks of this tree.

Beaver-cut tree

Beaver-cut tree


It was at least 18″ in diameter. I like how the heartwood never gave up, bending rather than breaking.

In short order we found ourselves at the edge of the pond. They had built the largest beaver lodge I had ever seen. It was at least three times larger than the biggest one I had seen before that day.

Massive Beaver Lodge

Massive Beaver Lodge


This monster was about eight feet tall and a good twenty feet wide at the waterline. It had to have been even bigger beneath the surface.

The kids gathered at the edge of the pond, and I wanted to get a shot of that with the pond, then them at the edge, but with their faces showing. I saw a little spit of land jutting out into the pond, and thought I’d go out on that to get the angle I was after. Bad Move. I stepped onto what looked like solid ground, and my foot began to sink into the mud. Before I could shift my weight to the other leg, I was in up to my knee. It took five minutes to extract my foot. When I did, my boot was still firmly attached to my foot, and I count that as a good thing. My sock was even dry, which is a testament to this boot (a Scarpa if you must know).

The sky opened up before we were done, so we high-tailed it back to the cars and headed for home.

Meanwhile, the Pathfinders were out distributing bags to the south end of Concord as we do every year. It’s phase one of our annual food drive. I did not join them, as I was helping Va with her group. She’s short on staff, and I have an embarrassment of riches in that department. So my staff handled the Pathfinder project quite ably as I helped Va with the Adventurers.

Phase two came the next day. We used to give people a week to gather food, but found that giving them a day works just as well. For as many people who don’t give because they need to go shopping, we used to have as many who would forget because an entire week went by. It all comes out in the wash.

While we were out collecting the filled bags, I spied this awesome plow truck.

Work Horse

Work Horse


I shot that photo through the unwashed passenger window from the driver’s seat, so there’s plenty of room for the photo to have improved. But I was more interested in the subject of the photo than in the artistry.

The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is in full swing now.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

I’ve been working on those wooden canoes I bought for the club a little while back. I have one outwale removed from the 19-footer now and most of the inwale too. The gunwales (inwale+outwale) were attached to the hull with no glue, and I needed three different types of screw drivers to get them off (flat, Phillips, and a square S-2).

I bought a 20′ long ash board today at Goose Bay Lumber in Chichester. I went there during lunch, and hadn’t been planning on that trip ahead of time. Thus, I didn’t have a way to get it home. I left it at the lumber yard and asked Va to bring my roof rack when she came to Concord to pick up Beth from school. She obliged, so after work, I went and got the rack and then the board. I also bought some shorter lengths of ash and a 4′ length of maple, I will fashion a new thwart from that.

I need to rip the 20′ ash plank into four 5/8″ pieces now. I haven’t decided if I want to try that on my table saw or if I want to try to talk Ken into doing it for (or with) me. Once I have it ripped into four chunks I will cut scuppers into two of them to serve as inwales. Before attaching them though I will need to resand the hull and probably add some fiberglass here and there. It sounds like a lot of effort, but I don’t think it really is.

I’ll keep you posted.

Today we had our Investiture service for Pathfinders and Adventurers. This is a ceremony during which we award insignia to everyone. The highlight is always the slideshow that Melissa puts together for us. It was 22 minutes long, and she had set it to music. She was up until 7:00am working on it. After 22 minutes of watching that, my mouth was sore from the ear-to-ear grin I maintained throughout. I couldn’t help it.

We got home a little after 4:00pm and had some supper. It had been raining all day, as it was when I finished eating, and as it is even now at nearly midnight. But I have rain gear.

Penny was thrilled at the prospect of a walk in the rain, and I figured she was the only one in the house who was crazy enough about walking to take me up on the offer of a hike. We went down to Sandogardy Pond.

I cut through the cut-down forest. This is one of the nicer places there now. The trail has reappeared, and it’s growing a nice carpet of grass.

Penny waits for me to throw a stick

Penny waits for me to throw a stick

We made it to the pond without incident. The water (including the puddles along the way) were thick with yellow pollen. I don’t know what plant makes this stuff, but it sure makes a lot.

Sandogardy Beach

Sandogardy Beach

I don’t know what this is growing at the edge of the pond. I might recognize it in a few weeks, but right now I just don’t know. But look at all that pollen!

Mystery plants

Mystery plants

But this is one I do know:

Virginia marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


I think this may be the only St Johnswort with pink flowers. Not that it has bloomed yet. We’ll check in again after it does.

It continued to pour the whole time I was out there.

Alder in the rain

Alder in the rain


This is some sort of alder bush. It grows all along the edge of the pond. One of these days I will id it down to the species level, but not during a rainstorm.

Penny didn’t go into the pond during this hike. Maybe she didn’t want to get wet 😉 or maybe she wasn’t overheated since the rain did a thorough job on her coat. She would also not have been thirsty since the sticks she was fetching were also quite wet.

I do enjoy walking in a rain like this, even when it’s heavy like it was today. It’s an iron-clad guarantee of having the outdoors to myself.

Spring has been busting out all over the place here. A bit early I suppose, and I sure hope we don’t have a hard frost any time soon. I don’t think a lot of the plants would survive such an ordeal.

A lot of the blooms are not your typical “flowers” – you have to look up to see them.

Red Maples (Acer rubrum)

Red Maples (Acer rubrum)


But some of them are pretty close to the ground:
Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)


In fact, the Latin name “Epigaea” for trailing arbutus means something like “pretty close the the ground.”

This will just be a quick post this evening. I am going on an Internet fast for 24 hours starting at sunset. This was something I had intended to do about a month ago, but forgot I was doing it and slipped up. Then I saw this challenge which reminded me that I had wanted to do this.

I think it’s good to unplug every now and then. I don’t intend to avoid all things electronic – just the Internet. Also, I find it amusing that in order to “take the pledge” on the organizer’s website, you have to have a Facebook account. No thanks Zuck! My goal is to be less plugged in, not more!

So if you comment on my blog and I don’t answer right away, now you know why.

I had the day off today, so I slept in a little (but not too much). We got a little bit of snow, but not as much as was forecast, and not even close to as much as I wanted. But I will take what I can get.

I went for a short walk around my woods and took photos of several tiny evergreens. I would hazard to guess that when most people hear of a tiny evergreen, this is what they think of:

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)


This is a tiny eastern white pine. If it survives, it will not remain tiny though. I think the tallest trees on my property belong to this species. But there are plenty of evergreens that stay tiny their entire lives. Here are a few of them.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)


Wintergreen is a tiny evergreen. The berries are delicious, and only moments passed between me taking this photo, and me eating my subject. Mmmm.

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)


Goldthread is another tiny little evergreen. It’s roots are little gold threads. This one has two different binomial names: Coptis trifolia, and Coptis groenlandica. I learned it as C. groenlandica first, but I think C. trifolia is more commonly accepted.

Groundpine (Lycopodium)

Groundpine (Lycopodium)


Groundpine looks for all the world like a Christmas tree – except for its size. It is also called clubmoss. It is neither a pine, nor a moss, but rather, a flowerless plant belonging to its own eponymous class.

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)


Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) is another evergreen. It has leathery leaves sporting sharpish hairs. It blooms early in the spring, and the blossoms are edible. I tried them for the first time last spring and found them to be quite tasty.

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)


Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is not edible. It’s other names attest to this: lamb-kill and sheep-poison. I suppose I’d have to tear it all out if I wanted to run sheep back here. But the flowers are among my favorites. Like the other plants listed in this post, it too is an evergreen.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


The last evergreen in today’s post is partridge berry (Mitchella repens). I have had several kids tell me that its berries are poisonous, but this is absolutely not true. I eat them all the time, and I have found no literature indicating that it is toxic. It reminds me of a wee tiny apple; not as crunchy, and not as sweet, but it is something I would gladly eat in great quantities.

So there we have seven tiny evergreens that I found growing in my woods today.

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