The eastern phoebes we found in that canoe a couple of weeks ago aren’t there any more. I don’t know if they met an ill end or if they have fledged and gone, but in their place we found these today:

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

Another Eastern Phoebe clutch

I took a lap around my woods to see if the dewdrops had bloomed yet. A few had!

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

The wintergreen is still bearing last year’s berries. They seem to get bigger just before they drop. This one was about 50% larger (in diameter) than they are in the fall.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

I also found that the partridge berry was in bloom…

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

…as was the whorled loosestrife…

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

…and the cow wheat.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

David and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wanted to see if the sheep laurel was in bloom. It was. This might be the best shot I’ve ever gotten of it.

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

The beach at the pond was covered with these guys:

Pickerel frog  (Rana palustris)

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)


I think they are pickerel frogs, but it could also be some other species. They were so small that David thought they were insects at first glance. I knew better because I’ve seen them here before. They were only about a quarter inch long, and as we walked along the beach they were jumping out of the way. There were thousands of them.

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Today after church one of my friends heard that I was planning to hike up Mount Major after lunch. He and his daughter wanted to join us, and we were more than happy for the company. We both went home to change clothes and eat, and then we met in Tilton. From there, I led the way to the trailhead.

My three companions

My three companions


We got to the trailhead at about 3:00pm. Beth wanted to carry our pack (it had water in it, plus a first aid kit and some snacks), so I let her. It wasn’t long before she asked me to take it, which was just what I expected.
The girls do some boulder scrambling

The girls do some boulder scrambling


Bella saw a rock that she thought looked like New York State. I had to agree.
New York is also a granite state

New York is also a granite state


There was plenty of sheep laurel (same genus as mountain laurel) in bloom. I have a lot of this in my woods, but it never blooms like this.
Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)


There was also a lot of this viburnum in bloom.
Unidentified Viburnum

Unidentified Viburnum


I don’t know which species of Viburnum it is – just that it is one.

When we got to the top there were several people there, and many of them were more than willing to throw sticks for Penny.

Penny at the summit

Penny at the summit


I cautioned them to not throw any sticks over the edge of a cliff, as I’m pretty sure Penny would go after one. She is a smart dog, but she is also single minded when it comes to fetching sticks. To her, it is The Most Important Thing. More so, even than her own well-being.

At the summit there is a little stone hut. It probably had some wooden bits to it once upon a time. I don’t know its story. It’s about ten feet by ten feet, and kids do love climbing around on it.

The girls on the stone hut

The girls on the
stone hut

We stayed on the summit for half an hour I guess, but then it was time to go.

Close to the top of the mountain we came across this little bog. On the way down, Penny dropped her stick in here and looked at me as if I were going to get it out for her. I don’t think so Penny.

Mountain bog

Mountain bog


She abandoned it and found a replacement stick as we went down the trail.

I think we wore Penny out, which is something she desperately needs. I know we wore me out, even if no one else was!

This morning when we arrived at church, I thought I might take a peek in the canopy garage to see how much stuff had been donated for our annual Memorial Day yard sale. My intent was to take a photo so I could share that here. But my camera would not turn on. Thus the title of this post. :-/

Perhaps it was a bad idea to put the threaded insert into the tripod mount, or perhaps 40,000 pictures was all it could handle (that’s not an exaggeration). So now I find myself without a camera, unless I count my cell phone. But that has a pretty crappy camera in it, so I don’t really count it at all! I don’t know if I can fix it this time, if I’ll have to go without a camera for a while, or if I will get a new one soon. With the prospect of sending Jonathan to UNH this fall, this is not the best time for me to get a new camera.

When we got home I had some lunch and then figured I might take a nice nap. I figured I could slip under the covers for an hour or so between shedding my church clothes and donning my hiking clothes. But before I could manage that, my phone rang. Joy, one of my Pathfinders (who lives pretty close to my house) wanted to know if she and Beth could go bike riding. Well, I knew Beth would want to do that, and I was planning on doing something after the nap anyhow. So I swapped the order of the nap and the activity. Also, I thought it would be better to have an adult around – after all, the roads between my house and Joy’s has some dangerous traffic on it.

So I put on my hiking clothes, got the bike down, filled some water bottles, and Beth and I set out. It’s only 2.8 miles to Joy’s house. Then the three of us biked down to Sandogardy Pond. It was 81 degrees, and there were a lot of people there. I definitely understand why people like going to the pond, but I also like it a lot better when I’m the only one there. With the crowds comes the cigarette smoke and the country music. I let the girls wade for 15-20 minutes, and then we hopped on the bikes again and hit the trails in the town forest.

While we were near, we parked the bikes and then went and visited my Little Cohas Brook geocache. I had placed a travel bug in it back in March, but since no one has been there since, it has just sat there patiently waiting. I picked it up and will move it along as soon as I can.

We made our way back to the bikes, rode around the park for a little while, and then went back to Joy’s house. She gave us Klondike Bars (which were very much appreciated). Then Beth and I headed back home. I plotted our route on Google Maps, and figured that Beth and I put in about 8 miles all together.

Then I came home and had an abbreviated nap (it was nearly supper time). After supper, Penny was begging everyone to play with her, and I was feeling guilty for not taking her on the bike trip – but that’s such a hard thing to manage, especially when there is a road with dangerous traffic involved in the route. So David and I walked her down to Sandogardy.

There were fewer people there the second time around, which is fine by me. Penny had a great time chasing sticks, but I almost felt lost without my camera. I could see that the sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) was almost ready to bloom, and the cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) already had. But no photos. The bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is fully in bloom now too, but again… no photos.

How will I survive!

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.

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)


Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is one of my favorites. The blooms in this photo are about the same diameter as a dime. It’s in the same genus as the better-known Mountain Laurel (K. latifolia), but I have to climb a mountain to see that. K. angustifolia grows on my property, though the specimens here seem bloom-resistant. This one grows at the base of a huge white pine at Sandogardy Pond. Beth and I took Penny down there this evening.

Kalmia is the only genus in my personal list of flowering plants that starts with K. Another name for Sheep Laurel is Lambkill, and you can probably guess where it came by that moniker.

After spending a lot of time learning the binomial names of plants, I eventually started to recognize a little Latin. There are a lot of plant genera with an angustifolia and a latifolia species. The former means “narrow leaves” and the latter means “wide leaves.”

In addition to Kalmia (the Laurels), the genera Typha (cattails) and Elaeagnus (autumn olive) also have angustifolias and latifolias. There are probably hundreds of others.

A couple days ago I wrote that the neighbor’s sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) had bloomed. Well today mine did. A little.

Kalmia angustifolia

Kalmia angustifolia


This plant is in the same genus as the famed mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), but that plant grows pretty much only on mountains, so I don’t see it that often. No mountains in my yard or within walking distance of the office.

According to Wikipedia, Mountain laurel grows from 3-9 meters tall. Sheep laurel doesn’t even come close to that height. The biggest ones I’ve ever seen are less than one meter tall. In spite of K. latifolia’s stature and fame, I think I like K. angustifloia better. In my opinion, the flowers are prettier. Also, it grows in my own woods, and that’s got to count for something.

The tricky part about taking this photo was that neither of my tripods are adequate for the job. I have a tiny little tripod that will raise the camera anywhere from four to maybe 8 inches off the ground, and I have a “standard” tripod that will put it at 30 to 72 inches. And of course these blossoms were about 12 inches off the ground. Too high for the tiny tripod, and too low for the big one. I ended up grabbing a rock out of one of the piles I dug up on Friday and lugging it over. Then I set the little tripod on that and was able to get the photo. A tripod was absolutely necessary in this case, because I set the exposure time to .3 seconds. That’s a long time to be absolutely still.

In other news, Va and I spent some time this evening laying out the Investiture program for Adventurers and Pathfinders. I think it’s going to go pretty well.

Also, I bought a couple of used external frame backpacks from someone who posted them on Craigslist last night. I think they were a steal. I only had a little bit of trouble finding the place. Tomtom was right on (which seems increasingly unusual) this time. The problem was that the one-way street where these were was closed due to construction. I circled around, found a parking lot within a hundred yards of the guy’s house, and hiked the last part. I figure if you can’t hike a hundred yards, you prolly shouldn’t be buying a backpack.

Friday I saw a bloom that I had failed to identify last year. I had given Va my camera’s big memory card, so I had my little tiny one with me. The tiny one will hold a mere six photos at full-res, but I was out logging blooms, so I needed more than six photos. Therefore, I had the camera set to lo-res mode, and took a picture of this plant. When I got home, poured through my books, but I couldn’t find it. Then I scoured the Internet, and still no dice. Finally, I uploaded it and asked the people on WIkipedia’s Project Plants what it was. I had an answer in about an hour: Black Swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae). It’s not in any of my books (sometimes a plant is in there, but I fail to find it. Not this time).

The Wikimedia Commons only had two photos of this flower, so I decided that on Monday I would venture out with my tripod and camera and see if I could get a half-way decent one at full res. Here’s the result:

Black Swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae)

Black Swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae)

Of course, the version on this blog is not full res, because no matter how big the picture is, the biggest I can show it here is 510 pixels wide. If you are so inclined, the full-res version is here.

I have of late taken to setting the camera in manual mode. I’m still kinda learning what all this stuff means, but from what I can tell, the larger the f-number, the better the depth of field (which is how much you can focus the foreground and background at the same time – I guess). That tends to make the picture dimmer though, so to compensate, I have to increase the shutter time. Then if the camera moves, the picture is blurry. Thus the tripod. I also tend to set the camera to delay two seconds before taking the picture so that the tripod can settle down after I violently press the “take the picture” button. Well, not that violently, but any shaking at all tends to blur the photo.

I took a very nice photo of some Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens) yesterday doing this. That was a bit tricky because this stuff grows in the woods where it’s nice and shady. The exposure time was one second. No way I can hold a camera still for a full second, but with the tripod and two second delay, it came out pretty OK!

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)

Friday I dug up several large rocks around the edge of the yard. I did this for two reasons: I want to build another raised bed for my garden using free, non-toxic material, and sometimes the mower blade hits these things. All I managed to do though was dig them out and make several piles. By then I was too wiped to carry them over to the garden. Also, I left my wheelbarrow over at the neighbors house.

Tonight I decided to fetch the barrow and move some rocks. So Beth and I mosied on over. We chatted for a while and checked out their garden (the one I helped put in). It seems to be doing better this week than last. There was really heavy rain that knocked down a lot of their transplants. They replanted a bunch of stuff, and I think it’s looking much better.

On the way back to the house, I noticed that they had a bit of sheep-laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) in bloom. I have some of this on my place too, and I have been waiting for it to bloom, but it has not yet. I’ve also been watching a patch at Sandogardy Pond, but I can’t check it as often. So I was delighted to see this stuff on their property. Didn’t have my camera though, so no photo. Maybe tomorrow.

I wheeled the barrow the rest of the way home and stopped at the first rock pile. I loaded them up and pushed them about 50 feet when I could hear the air racing out of the tire. I stopped. I had to. The tire was still hissing madly and going completely flat. So I carried the rocks the other 100 feet to the garden and heaved them onto the ground. Then I pumped up the tire, but it wouldn’t hold air. A quick examination revealed that the stem was completely shot. So Beth and I drove to Tilton and bought a new innertube. I also picked out a straight 10′ 2×4 for my ger project.

When we got home it was Beth’s bedtime, so I neither fixed the flat nor worked on the ger. Rather, I put her to bed. Then I placed my second order for Investiture supplies, and here I am, blogging about it.

I’ll write more about the ger as that progresses. So far, I’m $3.04 into it.