After church today, Beth invited me to walk to Sandogardy Pond with her. I can’t resist an invitation like that, so I got my hat, boots, and camera, and put the leash on Penny.

While I was doing all that Beth popped outside. She came in with a report of a purple lady bug.

Gray-dy bug

Gray-dy bug


I thought it was more gray than purple. I haven’t tried to identify it, but for now, I will call this a “gray-dy bug”.

On the way to the pond, I spotted a tall flowering plant along the side of the road. I have never seen this species before, but I knew it was a milkweed of some sort.

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)


I’m not 100% sure, but I think this one is a poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). I had been thinking that it’s cool to find new-to-me species in bloom, but when I went to tag this one, I see that I have already tagged that species. So it is one I have seen before, but forgot about!

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)


None of these photos are that great, but hey – sometimes they aren’t.

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Further along, I saw some wintergreen with absolutely huge berries.

Huge wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens)

Huge wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens)


I have notices that just before they bloom again, wintergreen berries swell. They are normally a quarter inch in diameter, but these were half an inch. Remember, volume increases with the cube of the diameter, so these have about 8 times the volume of an unswollen berry (though I expect they have roughly the same mass, as the density seems to decrease).

My theory is that the plant is making a last ditch effort to entice something to eat the berries and thus, spread the seeds. If that’s the strategy, it worked for this plant, because I ate these as soon as I snapped the photo.

When we got to Cross Brook (or as I call it, Little Kohas Creek) which drains Sandogardy Pond, Penny was in full throw-me-a-stick mode. She brought us one and dropped it on the bridge.

Penny brings a stick

Penny brings a stick

Except it fell between the planks and into the creek. She couldn’t figure out where it had gone, but it was floating downstream by then.

It drops between the boards and into the creek

It drops between the boards and into the creek


I pointed it out to her, and she went in after it.
She fetches it

She fetches it


She did this twice. The second time it had floated farther downstream than she could have imagined, so she didn’t find it. She did know that it had gone between the planks though, because she was looking through them into the creek trying to find it. But that wouldn’t help in this case, because there’s no way she could get it back between the planks.

Thank you Penny for entertaining me today! And thank you Beth for the walk!

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Penny is such a funny dog. When Jonathan and I got home from work, she dashed out to greet me. I threw her a stick and headed to the front door. She fetched the stick and got to the door before I did, frantically pawing at the door to get in so that I could let her out the back door where I might throw sticks for her. Silly dog! We’re already outside! But no, she wanted to go outside, not just be outside.

I indulged her (and myself). Camera in hand, I did a lap around the woods looking for blooms. The trailing arbutus is still about the only thing in bloom, but there are others that will be in bloom very soon. Here’s one:

Canada Maylily (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada Maylily (Maianthemum canadense)


Another name for this is false lily-of-the-valley, but I have never been enamored with the idea of a plant being “false.” Yeah, it’s not lily-of-the-valley, but it is a Canada lily, so why not just go with that name?

I was looking for some goldthread, when I found this instead:

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)


Cool. This is another I had been looking for ,and truth be told, there is a little goldthread leaf there in the lower center “photo-bombing” my dwarf ginseng shot (as well as another Canada may-lily right behind it).

But there we also a few goldthread plants here and there – none in bloom yet though.

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

And the whole time I was looking for blooms, Penny was looking for sticks. She found a few:

Penny (Canis lupus domesticus)

Penny (Canis lupus domesticus)


Which I dutifully threw for her. It wasn’t long after this that she found a vernal pool and plopped down in it to cool off. I guess gathering and chasing sticks is hot work even on a cool day.

Yesterday it was raining, but since it had been a while since I had been able to go out for a walk, I fished my raincoat and rain pants out of my backpack, put the leash on Penny, and headed down to Sandogardy Pond.

We cut through the cut-down forest. There were tons of blueberry blossoms, and I took several shots, but none of them really turned out. I’m blaming the rain. It was not only getting everything wet (camera included), but it was also reducing the available light. I had better luck with these purple violets.

Violets are violet!

Purple violet


I’m pretty sure I ate a bunch of the leaves from this batch. There are few greens in the wild that are better than violets. Actually, I can’t think of any other wild green that I prefer to these.

We crossed Sandogardy Pond Road and made our way along the edge of the town forest. I stopped to see if the lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) had come up yet.

Lily-of-the-valley

Lily-of-the-valley


Yup. The blossoms will probably open sometime this week, so I need to get back to that spot soon.

As I walked along the class VI road (meaning they don’t plow it in the winter or perform any other maintenance on it – ever), my eyes were scanning the ground for wild flowers. Ha! Here’s are some!

A clue!

A clue!


Seeing these petals all over the ground forced my eyes skyward to find their source.

Some sort of wild cherry.  I think.

Some sort of wild cherry. I think.


I think this is a cherry tree, but I don’t know what kind. I really ought to learn to id the TWWF’s (trees with white flowers). There must be hundreds of species that fit that description. They all bloom at about the same time, and they all have five petals. It’s a daunting undertaking, which is, I suppose, why I have not done it yet.

Penny and I got to the pond in short order. The city has moved the dock back into the water. I wasn’t expecting them to do that before Memorial Day, but there it is. Someone else’s dock appears to have broken free and drifted into position next to it.

As is someone else's!

The dock is in the water now.

Penny didn’t care. She went straight into the pond to cool off. This did not make her any wetter, as it was raining steadily the whole time we were out.

I turned from the dock and found some white violets in the grass.

White violet

White violet

Near the violets was a small patch of wild strawberries.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

We walked along the beach and turned back into the forest. The Indian Cucumber Root has come up since I was here last:

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)


These are one of my favorite wild vegetables. The roots taste for all the world exactly like cucumbers. I have never eaten them in quantity though as they are not terribly abundant. I let them be today.

We made a loop through the woods and then headed back to the house. When we got home I shed my rain gear and sat down on the couch completely dry. Penny shook her fur all over Virginia (she did not appreciate that), and laid down on the floor, soaking wet.

She was still quite damp when I went to bed, so score one for a good raincoat.

Winter has returned to New Hampshire.

Back yard

Back yard

We got about a half inch of snow today. When I got up there was ice all over the windshield of my car. This surprised me, but I guess it should not have.

Front Yard

Front Yard


Some people are probably pretty upset about winter’s last gasp, but I find it a welcome return. Maybe it will be enough to tide me over until next winter (or if I’m lucky, autumn).

Throw it already!

Penny gets ready to catch a stick


Penny didn’t seem to care. All else becomes unimportant when there are sticks to be caught.

Spring will be back again, and soon I’m sure. We had chipmunks in the yard last week. This one was at the foot of the deck stairs.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk


I opened the sliding glass door and he turned around, but he didn’t run off. Luckily, Penny didn’t see him as I took several shots.

Another thing I did last week was visit a virtual geocache in Franklin called “Abnaki Mortar” (sic – should be “Abenaki”) From the name, I couldn’t figure out what it was, but once I got there it was plainly obvious, and I felt silly for not knowing what to expect.

Abenaki Mortar

Abenaki Mortar


This is a mortar where the Abenaki Indians ground corn. European settlers used it too. I imagine they would have scooped the water out and tried to dry it a bit first. I was pretty pleased when I got here and saw what it was. I really like Native American history, especially here on the East Coast where almost none was recorded before they were driven out.

Meanwhile, I have been making slow but steady progress on the canoe. In spite of today’s snowstorm, we had a spot of nice weather last week. It was warm enough to consider epoxy work, so I considered it. And did it. I fit the instem into “Miss Nancy.”

New instem

New instem


That’s a tough proposition, as the stem is kind of the foundation of the boat. The brief period during which it was stemless, it was also exceedingly fragile. Once I got this new stem in place, it regained its strength plus some extra strength for good measure. Once the epoxy set on the instem, I attacked the outstem too:

Outstem attached

Outstem attached


Instead of clamping the outstem in place, I screwed it into the instem with steel screws. Those came out once the glue set, and will be replaced with brass screws. I generally don’t drive brass screws into wood until I’ve used a steel screw to cut the threads in the wood. Otherwise, the brass screws will twist in two, or strip out. As it was, the steel screws themselves all snapped in half when I went to remove them. I haven’t decided how to deal with that yet. Now that the epoxy is set, the screws are more decorative than anything else. I think if I tried to remove the steel screw nubbins, all I would do is mangle the ash. I might just use some shortened brass screws to plug the holes and make it look good.

Since this was done, I also shaped the outstem so that it flows into the hull with sweeping curves. It looks pretty good now. I also mixed up some epoxy and wood flour and slathered it into the cracks between the planks. I still need to hit it with another layer of that mixture and sand it down, but once that’s done, it’ll be ready to take a new layer of glass. Then the strength will increase by another order of magnitude. Once that’s done, I can smooth the inside of the hull, slather on more epoxy/wood flour, and sand that, and then it will be ready for glass as well.

This is going to be a nice boat.

Today is the first day of spring, but it doesn’t look anything like that here. We had a snow storm yesterday, and it dumped nine and a half inches of snow on my house. I am nearly alone in being happy about this, but I do love snow.

This morning I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wore snowshoes, and she weasel-jumped most of the way. She’s sleeping on the floor near me right now, one tired doggie.

Anyhow, here are the shots I made while I was out.
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This weekend we had our third weekend snowstorm in a row. But I am MORE than OK with that. It gets even better (for me… most people I know feel the opposite way). We are forecast to get another foot of snow overnight and into tomorrow.

But before that happens, let’s get caught up with this previous snowstorm. I woke up for breakfast and there were a couple of inches on the ground then. After I ate, I decided to go back to bed, and I slept until noon. When I got up again, this is what I found:

My snow gauge was working

My snow gauge was working


That’s about a foot of snow. 🙂

The snow was still stuck to the trees, which in my opinion, is the most beautiful sight I am privileged to see. I like this more than brilliant autumn leaves or a field full of wildflowers.

Down the Driveway

Down the Driveway

The downside is that it makes the road pretty slick. I grabbed the newspaper while I was out and saw this car in the ditch.

The roads must have been slick

The roads must have been slick

For reasons I cannot explained, I just assumed that no one was in the car and that a tow truck was on the way. So like a true oaf, I snapped a photo and then went snowshoeing in the back of my woods.

Along the trail in my woods

Along the trail in my woods


It was pretty there too.

I was out again later when my neighbor across the road (Jeff) came walking up from that direction. He had the presence of mind to actually go and check on them. It was a young couple, and they were waiting for AAA to come and get them. I felt pretty stupid for not thinking of checking on them myself. They had been there for over an hour at that point. I went in and asked Va to make some hot chocolate. We couldn’t find any cups with lids, so I poured the hot chocolate into a thermos, grabbed some un-lidded cups and snowshoed down the road to them. When I got there the tow truck was getting ready to leave.

Help arrives

Help arrives


They accepted the hot chocolate with lots of thank you’s. I know I felt better.

That night I took Jonathan back to Durham, as he was going to have class on Monday in spite of this snowstorm. It was a dicey ride, but I made it there and back again without incident.

The next morning (Monday), I strapped on my snowshoes again and took Penny out for a nice long walk. We headed down to Sandogardy Pond. I didn’t actually go to the pond itself this time. We crossed Cross Brook, which I still prefer to call “Little Kohas Creek.” More beauty.

Little Kohas Creek

Little Kohas Creek

After crossing, we kept going until we got to the railroad tracks. We walked north on the tracks. The tracks are not active this time of the year as far as trains go. But as for snowmobiles and snowshoeing, it’s quite active. There were two sets of snowshoe tracks left since the snow had stopped, and I was adding a third set.

I've been walking on the railroad

I’ve been walking on the railroad

Penny can find sticks even when they are buried under two feet of snow. Sometimes she finds sticks that are just a tad too big though.

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)


I would not throw this one for her, much to her disgust. If I did throw it, she would catch it and probably lose several teeth in the process. But she would bring it right back so I could throw it again, and she would lose more teeth. Since I know she is going to need her teeth, I just let her be disgusted. There were plenty of other sticks out there, and she was able to find many of them.

I guess we did about four miles all told. I was pretty winded when we got home, but Penny was exhausted.

I put on my snowshoes late this afternoon and walked around the house. Even though we have deep snow covering the ground, Penny still managed to find several sticks that she just knew I wanted to throw for her.
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The next photo shows a hole that had two sets of squirrel tracks. One leading to it, and the other leading away.

Squirrel hole

Squirrel hole

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Basement door

Basement door

The task ahead

The task ahead


Now I wish I had prepositioned my snowblower last night. Instead, it’s pinned in the garage by my car, and the only way to get it out is to back the car out. Before I can do that, I will have to shovel out a place to back the car to.