After a nice afternoon nap, Penny talked me into taking her on a walk to Sandogardy Pond. We had been away for ten days visiting relatives in Kentucky, and she stayed here with David. She missed us!

Before we even got off our property, I stumbled across the largest colony of Indian pipe (Monoflora unitropa) that I think I’ve ever seen. This one looked especially nice against a backdrop of moss.

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

I was pleased to see some fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata) in the ditch along the road. There used to be a lot more of it, but the Japanese knotweed has been expanding along the ditch, forming a huge monoculture and displacing native species as it goes along. Here is one of the flowers, shot from underneath:

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

And here’s what the plant looks like. Notice how the flowers nod:

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)

This patch of woods along th way was covered up with ripe blueberries. I stopped, picked, and devoured about a pint of them.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Just before the pond, there was a batch of shinleaf pyrola. I think this was as nice a batch of them as I have ever seen:

Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica)

Shinleaf
(Pyrola elliptica)

We got to the pond, but I could tell there were a lot of people there picnicking and swimming. Not wanting to bother them, we detoured down the the stream that drains the pond, and Penny jumped right in:

Penny cools off

Penny cools off

We approached the pond from the other side, stopping to look at the bluebead lilies:

Bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis)

Bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis)

Over at the other end of the beach (the part that is somewhat overgrown with alder), I found one of the plants I was hoping to see – swamp candles. This was was blooming next to a wild rose:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

The pickerel weed was also in bloom, but it was just starting – it will be more photogenic in another week or so. There was what I know is a variety of St Johnswort growing on the beach, and I think it might be dwarf St Johnswort. But I have not yet confirmed that.

Dwarf St Johnswort (Hypericum mutilum)?

Dwarf St Johnswort (Hypericum mutilum)?

We’ll go back again soon Penny!

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Today, the Pathfinders met in a shopping center parking lot in Concord to assemble for our first Memorial Day parade. We fell in behind the Rundlet Middle School band, and I was pretty impressed by them. They were about a hundred strong, and they played very well. Their director stopped and said “Hi” to us before the parade started. He told us to be ready for a car to pull in behind the band. That was their water car. He offered to give us water if we needed it, and for that I was thankful. This being the first time I have ever been in charge of a group marching in a parade, I didn’t even think of that.

I was in band during my last year of high school and during my sophomore and junior years at Murray State. I have marched in far more parades than I have watched from the sidelines. But again, this was the first time I was in charge of the group with whom I marched, and that definitely offers a different perspective.

Cheryl, the director who preceded me came out for the parade too. She served as our drill instructor last year. David has been doing that this year, but he was sick today. As we set out, I called “column left march” when I meant “column right march.” Oops! Cheryl offered to call the commands, and I immediately and gratefully accepted her offer.

She did ask me when she should call “eyes right” which is when everyone except the rightmost column looks to the right while the director salutes. I told her I’d like to do it as much as we could. It is usually reserved for the reviewing stand, but I didn’t know if there would be one (and there wasn’t). Instead, she called “eyes right” every time we passed a veteran. They were easy to spot because they were wearing VFW hats (or similar), and they would remove them and salute the US Flag we were carrying. “Eyes right!” Both Cheryl and I would thank them for their service. It left a lump in my throat to think of what those guys had done for us.

The parade took about an hour, but it seemed like it was a lot shorter than that. I had enough flags so that about half the kids were carrying one. So I had them switch halfway through so they wouldn’t get too tired, and so that everyone would have a chance to carry one.

We had a new banner (thank you Darlene!) that two kids would carry, a US, Pathfinder, and NH State flag, plus four guidons. That’s nine flags, and ten of the kids showed up (the one flagless kid and the guidons carriers swapped with the banner and big flag carriers).

In no time, we arrived at the capitol and Rundlet started loading their instruments on their buses. Our group walked back to the shopping center, and that was pretty much it. Joy asked me if I could assemble the kids (she had some cookies she had baked for the Baking honor). So I did and I told them how proud I was of them, and that they looked fantastic. Then I turned them over to Joy. She had a surprise for me – a dozen cookies! She also had a batch of brownies for the rest of the club. I was totally not expecting that. 🙂

When I got home, Jonathan was outside mowing the front lawn. Usually he and David each mow half the yard, but with David under the weather, and since the parade didn’t even come close to wearing me out, I took David’s turn. I mowed more than the boys generally do, including my paths through the woods, the edge of the driveway, and some “wild” spots here and there. Plus the yard.

Then I went in for a bit of rest, but Penny wouldn’t have any of that. She wanted to play (and the mower terrifies her). So I took her for a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. And I took my resurrected camera with me.

Here’s some of what I saw (and I can’t tell you how glad I am to be able to share photos with you again).

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor


This was in my east woods along the freshly mown trail to the frog pond.
False Solomon's Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor


This one was slightly more lonely.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)


The last time I went by this one, the light was failing and I didn’t have an operational tripod setup. This time the light was better and my tripod mount was fixed. It is a better result.

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)


My camera was out of commission when I first noticed this was in bloom on Saturday. It was nice to be able to capture it today.

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)


The blue-bead lily, aka corn lily, aka Clintonia borealis is too far along now for nibbling on the cuke-flavored leaves. But the flowers sure look nice.

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)


I saw these four ladies slippers Saturday too, but couldn’t share them with you until today. Penny patiently waited for me to finish taking their portrait so I could throw her a stick.

The path through the logged field

The path through the logged field


This used to be a forest with a trail through it until the owner logged it. That broke my heart, especially since the loggers left such a mess behind. It’s hard to walk over all the sticks they left strewn everywhere, but I can’t really complain since it’s neither my property nor the public’s. As you can see, the forest is trying to re-establish itself again (and coming along nicely).

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)


Most of the star flowers are finished now. I was surprised to see this one still looking so good. It’s probably the last one I will photograph until next spring.

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)


Here’s one you don’t often see – poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) blossoms. I didn’t get too close, as I am most decidedly allergic to them.

Thanks for stopping by!

I’ve not felt great the past couple of days. Some sort of sinus problem kept me home from work yesterday. It has since moved into my throat and chest, but as bad as it feels there, it’s a ton better than in my head.

I have a new laptop. My old hard drive was getting pretty full, and the screen was showing its age. It’s not a new new laptop, but rather, something we had kicking around at work. I also got a new hard drive for it, and have spent the evening installing the OS and copying files from my old laptop to this one. While stuff was copying, I took Penny to the backyard for some stick throwing, and also to play with a piece of #14 welder’s glass that I ordered online (it came in today).

What kind of fun can a guy have with #14 welder’s glass? How about… photographing the sun!

The sun through a piece of #14 welder's glass

The sun through a piece of #14 welder’s glass


It has something of a green tint, doesn’t it? So I adjusted the white balance to make the sun white.
Sun with white balance set to... the sun

Sun with white balance set to… the sun


These are not great shots, but they are also the first ones I’ve ever taken of the sun. The camera didn’t much want to focus, so I set it to infinity manually. I think 93 million miles is close enough to infinity as far as the camera is concerned.

Now if I lived a bit farther to the west, I might use this to take pictures of the upcoming eclipse. Yeah – that’s on May 20. But I won’t get to see that here. Instead, I will wait until June 5 and take pictures of the transit of Venus. That won’t happen again for another 108 years, so if it interests you, you’d better get on it now. Google it if you must. The Innernets know all.

I also made a lap around the front of the property.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

American toad (Bufo americanus)

American toad (Bufo americanus)


OK, the taxonomists have moved the American toad out of the Bufo genus and into some other genus. They keep doing that to a lot of frogs, and I just can’t keep track anymore. To me, it’ll be Bufo for a while longer.

While I was out doing all that, Va whipped out the mop. The mop and the dog are not compatible with one another, and since I was feeling better than I had been, I offered to take the dog down to the pond (even though there was only an hour of daylight left, and the sky was clouding up). I’m glad I did.

Lily of th valley (Convallaria majalis )

Lily of th valley (Convallaria majalis )


The lily of the valley was in bloom. There wasn’t a whole lot of available light, and macro photography does not much benefit from flash, so I did what I could. Jack up the ISO to about 800, minimize the f-stop, open up the shutter, and hold the camera as still as I could. I still need to make another attempt on that infernal tripod mounting hole.

We got to the pond, and the dock had been rolled out. So I walked out onto it and steadied my camera on a post to take this shot.

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond


It was a nice evening, even if it was threatening to rain. Penny and I continued on, and I found the corn lilies in bloom.
Corn lily aka blue bead lily aka Clintonia borealis

Corn lily aka blue bead lily aka Clintonia borealis


I was out here a couple of day ago (before the black plague/Ebola or whatever took hold of my sinuses) and managed to harvest a few leaves from these. Peterson says they taste like cucumbers, and I would have to agree. I ate half of them raw, and I cooked the other half and had them with butter. They are pretty OK! You do have to get them before the leaves fully unfurl, otherwise, the flavor is way too strong.

Then Penny and I headed back to the house. I had been throwing sticks for her almost non-stop since we had left, and she was starting to get tired. She needs that. When we got home, she lied down next to her water bowl and just about emptied it. Yes – that’s the sign of a good walk!

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.

Tonight I went outside at about 8:40 to look for the International Space Station. It was either too cloudy, or too low to rise above the neighbor’s house/woods. I’m not sure which, but I did not see it. No worries though, it was predicted to come by again at 10:16pm. By then, the clouds had done some considerable clearing. But for the best viewing, I figured maybe I should make a trip down to Sandogardy Pond. Which I did. I brought my camera with me, and also a head-mounted flashlight (those things are great).

When I got there, I noticed that they had put the dock back in the water now. It wasn’t there two weeks ago. I ambled down to the beach and walked out onto the doc in the dark. I could see Vega, Deneb, and Polaris (stars), and Ursa Major and Cassiopaeia (constellations). The ISS was supposed to cross just over the top of Cassiopaeia at its apex.

I glanced at my watch and saw that it was pretty close to the time the ISS should come into view. And behold! There it was. It looked about like an airplane. I stood on the dock and stared at it until it disappeared from my view in the east. Then I took a walk down the beach.

I was looking into the pond to see if there were any aquatic plants in bloom yet, and maybe see if I could find any heron tracks. There are a few plants coming up now, but they have most definitely not bloomed yet, and in the dark I was unable to determine their identity. Then I came across this:

Mussel Shells in Sandogardy Pond

Mussel Shells in Sandogardy Pond


There must have been a thousand mussel shells busted open here. I looked around for animal tracks, figuring that a family of raccoons, minks, or fishercats must have been feasting here every night for a week to have made a pile this large. Someone (perhaps the city of Northfield) had just raked the beach though (they use a tractor to do that on a regular basis), so there was no sign there. I couldn’t see anything in the water either. Maybe it was just too dark, or maybe the sign was just beyond my ability to detect it. I moved on.

At the end of the beach I turned away from the pond and trekked south. There’s a trail there that goes along the brook that drains the pond. And there is a patch of Clintonia borealis that grows along the path. It hadn’t bloomed when I was there two Saturdays ago, but I saw plenty of it in bloom at Camp Lawroweld over the weekend. And bingo:

Clintonia borealis at night

Clintonia borealis at night


It was fully in bloom. I like this plant because it has green flowers. That’s an unusual color for a flower if you think about it. Then I turned around and went back to the beach. I turned off my headlamp and walked the last 10 yards of the path in the dark. I lef thte light off as I walked along the beach, but then I decided to check for blooms at the edge of the woods along the opposite side of that strip of sand. There was some bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) in bloom, but I didn’t take a picture of that. I had seen some during the daytime in my own woods and had already logged it. Besides, these night photos of flowers don’t really turn out all the impressively. As I walked back up the hill to my car, I scanned the edge of the beach access road. Some Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) has a tendency to bloom there until the city mows it down. It’s not time for that to come up just yet, but it never hurts to check. I saw nothing though.