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!

Last week the wild woodland sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) at the end of my driveway bloomed.

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


At least, that’s what I think they are. I always look forward to these, and now, here they are. I took this photo two days ago, but only got it off the camera a few minutes ago. It was a nice surprise. πŸ™‚

Tonight after dinner Beth was complaining about “being bored.” I gave her the usual suggestions – clean your room, clean the living room, read a book, write a book, pick some berries (I offered to pay her the going rate for them), but none of those appealed to her. So she went upstairs.

The Internet was sluggish, and then I almost got bored too. πŸ˜‰ So I proposed a walk to Sandogardy. She wanted to swim, and I wanted to get a picture of a bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea). So we leashed up Penny, and we were off.

I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there at 6:00pm on a Friday, but there was a family of four swimming, and two other groups in paddle boats. The swimming family was the one whose kids like to throw the sticks into deep water for Penny. Oh well – she needed exercise too. Beth swam, and I went looking for the bullhead lily. Before I found one, I came cross some swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) still blooming (they are mostly done now, but these were still looking good). I brought my big tripod, since I wanted to photograph the bullhead, and they grow in a couple of feet of water.

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

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Turns out I needed the big tripod to get a decent shot of these too. While I worked with the swamp candles, I was also scanning for the bullheads. I found some not too far off shore, shed my shoes and socks, and zipped off the legs of my pants. Then I went in.
Bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea)

Bullhead lily (Nuphar lutea)


I liked this shot the best, but all of them came out to my satisfaction.

I waded back to shore and gathered up my shoes. Then I noticed some water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). It too could take advantage of the big tripod.

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata)


This is said to be the most poisonous plant in North America. It is superficially similar to the wild carrot (aka Queen Anne’s lace), but they are not difficult at all to distinguish. The leaves are completely different, as are the stems. The flowers and habit are the most similar, but even those can be easily distinguished. In my opinion, no one should ever eat a wild carrot until they have seen one of these and can tell them apart a million times out of a million.

This guy didn’t seem to care though:

Lady beetle on water  hemlock

Lady beetle on water hemlock

Washington, NH is the home of the Washington Adventist Church, the first church where Adventists met to observe the seventh day as the Sabbath. It is a historic place. Last spring our local church was invited to provide church services for a few weeks there this summer. I volunteered, as did my friend Dan Orlinski. Another pair of our church leaders volunteered for an earlier date, but today was my date.

I suggested to Dan that rather than get up real early and drive there, we ought to just camp out Friday night. Dan is an avid outdoorsman, so he agreed without hesitation, and when I invited Beth, she was likewise enthusiastic.

So yesterday after work the three of us set out. I had meant to stop by the Pathfinder trailer and fetch my dutch oven on the way, but that somehow slipped my mind. Oh well.

We arrived at the Washington Church around 7:00pm. I unlocked the building (having been given the combination to the lockbox containing the key), and we went in to look around.

Washington Adventist Church

Washington Adventist Church


I have camped here with our Pathfinder club three or four times, but had never been inside the church, so this was a nice treat.

We locked it back up, pitched our tents, and then relaxed a bit. Then we hit the sack. Beth and I shared a tent, and Dan had one to himself. I slept as well as I always do on a campout, which is to say not very good. πŸ˜‰

I got up at about 6:30 and began preparing breakfast. A few years ago I made a “penny alcohol stove” from an aluminum beer can (which I got from the city recycling center). Google that for details if you’re interested. It weighs almost nothing and cost me a penny to make (except that I still have the penny). It burns for about ten minutes I guess, but I didn’t time it. That’s long enough to boil a quart of water, but I was making pancakes and eggs, not boiling water.

I had intended to cook the pancakes on the dutch oven’s lid, but having neglected to bring that particular item with me, opted to use my backpacking mess kit instead. It is not optimal for cooking pancakes, as it’s pretty hard to get underneath them to flip them over.

Frying pancakes

Frying pancakes


They tend to get scrambled during the flip, resulting in this:
Scrambled Pancakes

Scrambled Pancakes


They still tasted great even if they weren’t much to look at.

In addition to forgetting the dutch oven, I also forgot to bring a fork or a spoon. We keep that sort of thing in the Pathfinder trailer, so I don’t usually have to think of it. So I didn’t. Lacking a spoon, I fashioned one from the handle of the pancake bottle (seen the the photo two pics back). It worked out pretty well.

I also made up some scrambled eggs, and they came out about like scrambled eggs are supposed to. Beth passed on the pancakes, but eagerly ate some eggs. I ate some of everything.

After cleaning up the dishes, we took a short hike. There is a trail on the church property there called the Sabbath Trail, and it’s about a mile long. We didn’t do the whole mile right after breakfast though. It features 31 stops along the trail with a bench at each stop and a slab of polished granite with an episode recounting the history of the Sabbath etched into each.

We had to cut the hike short because we were supposed to open the church up at 10:00am for Sabbath School, and then a church service at 11:00. So we hustled back to camp and changed into our church clothes.

Several of the Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers visited this church, including Joseph Bates, James and Ellen White, and J.N. Andrews. Beth was excited at the prospect of sitting in the same seat that these people had sat in 100 years ago, but since she didn’t know which ones they sat in, she decided to sit in them all. And she did, including in the balcony.

I set up Beth’s electric piano (plugged it into my car – it has a battery compartment, and I bought batteries for it, but even with that, it wouldn’t turn on). Then Dan led out for Sabbath School.

After that, we had a church service. No one was there except for the three of us. We were there in case someone else showed up, but no one did. A couple of hikers walked by, but they didn’t come in. Dan pointed out that there were enough of us there so that someone sat in every seat. Even if that someone was Beth.

I had prepared a sermon, and I will be giving the same one in Concord next week. This was good practice though, and I will change it a bit. Beth and I played Amazing Grace for special music – with me on the alto recorder, and her on the piano. We also played it with Beth on the organ (they have a very old, but working pump organ).

Then the church service was over, so we changed clothes again and finished our hike on the Sabbath Trail.

Along the way we saw several American toads, including this one:

Infected American toad (Bufo americanus)

Infected American toad (Bufo americanus)


It has what I think is a fungal infection around its eye. I have seen toads with this malady before, and initially thought it had gotten mud on its eye. But I don’t think this is mud. This will probably kill the toad, either directly (from the infection) or indirectly (from not seeing a predator approach from the right).

Soon, we crossed a bridge over a creek, and next to the bridge found some swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) growing:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)


These look a lot like whorled loosestrife, and are in fact in the same genus.

I also found a stand of partridge berry (Mitchella repens).

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


These are past the flowering stage on my property. I still see a few here and there, but for the most part, they are finished.

I was delighted to find this violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea).

Violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea)

Violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea)


I haven’t seen any of this in about five years, and that was before I started carrying a camera around with me everywhere I went. Thus, these are the first photos I’ve taken of this species. πŸ™‚

To my further delight, I found several patches of dewdrops (Dalibarda repens).

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)


Until today, the only place I knew where any of these grew was on my property, and as I’ve written before, I don’t know how long they will survive on my place since the neighbor has cut down trees, converting my shady woods into sunny woods. Well, now I know another place to find them. I might have to make an annual trek to Washington to get my dewdrop fix.

After the hike, we returned to the church (and our camp site), and sat down for lunch. I was planning to cook some Ramen noodles on my penny alcohol stove, but couldn’t figure out what on earth I had done with it. I found it later in the wrong section of my backpack, but before lunch, it was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I ate an apple, some “broccoli slaw” (which I had never had before – it’s not bad, but I don’t know if I’ll have it again), and… some raw Ramen noodles. Beth insisted that some of her schoolmates do this all the time, and she likes raw Ramen. Well, I do prefer mine cooked.

After we ate, we struck the tents, packed the car, and headed home. It rained while we ate lunch, so the tents got wet. I have them pitched in the backyard right now to dry out.

Yesterday evening I noticed that one of the dewdrops (Dalibarda repens) in my woods had finally bloomed. It was missing two of its five petals, but since it was the first one, I got out the camera. As I was adjusting it, Penny came tearing along the path, doing 90 miles per hour. Since I was standing on the path, Penny veered around me and stepped right on the dewdrop. That took it down to a single, mangled petal. I did not take a picture. Instead, I went looking for more. There are three patches of this stuff in my woods, all within 50 feet of each other. Patch number two had no blooms, but patch number three had this one:

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)


This is hands-down my favorite flower. It is the species that taught me how to take photos of flowers, because I found it totally impossible to photograph using the automatic settings of my previous camera. I had to learn the manual controls. This is kind of a rare plant. It’s endangered in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Actually, I just pasted most of that sentence in from the Wikipedia article, but that’s OK, because I’m the one that wrote it there in the first place. I started that article and put together the initial content. The photo in the article is also mine, and I don’t think I have ever taken a better shot of anything. That, my friends, is my best work. I use it as wallpaper on my computer.

So now that I have established my love affair with this plant for you, you can perhaps understand why I was so pleased to find one in bloom yesterday. I’ve been keeping an eye on those three patches for a couple of weeks. They have bloomed a little later this year as compared to previous years. I would have posted this last night, but my other news had me even more excited.

So excited, in fact, that I didn’t get much sleep last night because I couldn’t shut off my brain. I woke up early thinking about it too, so I did something most unusual for me – I got up. It was about 5:15 as I recall. I got dressed, went downstairs, got Penny’s leash, and we set out for Sandogardy Pond. Along the way, I spotted some beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta):

Beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta)

Beaked hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta)


Sandy, if you’re still wondering if you found American or beaked hazel, this would be a good time to go check.

I also found some Pyrola along the way:

Pyrola (Pyrola spp)

Pyrola (Pyrola spp)


I’m not sure what species of Pyrola this is – they are all pretty close to one another. Maybe roundleaf (P. americana), but I’m just not sure.

It was quiet at the pond. Foggy too:

Penny wades

Penny wades


I walked along the beach and saw that the floating heart (Nymphoides cordata) was in bloom now:
Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating heart (Nymphoides cordata)


It’s not hard to tell how it came about its common name, is it?

The swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) had bloomed too:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)


That can only mean that the pickerelweed should be blooming soon too.

At the end of the beach we turned right and headed into the woods along Cross Brook (which drains the pond). There is a patch of Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana) growing there, and it’s been in bloom for a while now. But I don’t think I have posted any photos of it this year, so here we go:

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)


This plant has a delicious tuber which tastes just like… yes – cucumber. If you don’t like cucumber, you should probably eschew Indian cucumber-root. I don’t eat much of it because there’s never much of it around.

Penny and I headed back home after that. I took a shower, and Jonathan and I headed to the office. I napped in the car a bit. I guess the walk helped me turn off my brain. πŸ™‚

When we got home I went out and admired my Dewdrop blossom again. Then I went to the catchment pond where there’s a bit of Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) growing. This plant has been threatening to bloom for about two weeks now. But today, I found a single blossom open (out of about two dozen).

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


This flower is pretty closely related to wintergreen and pyrola, but it looks a lot more like pyrola. And like pyrola, it doesn’t present its best side to humans. That privilege is reserved for ants. I tipped the blossom upwards to get a shot of its innards:
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)


Nice!