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.

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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!

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!

Check out Va’s hydrangeas:

Hydrangea

Hydrangea


I don’t usually photograph cultivated plants, but these are so blue this year, I couldn’t resist.

After church today Beth and I stayed behind to help two of the girls in my Pathfinder Club. They had not finished all their classwork before the year ended, so I helped them finish it up. All they need to do now is memorize the books of the Old Testament, and they will have earned the Friend rank.

When Beth and I were almost home, we met David and Penny on the road. David recognized us, but Penny did not. I tried to be inconspicuous in case David did not want Penny to chase us excitedly down the road the the house. But I guess David did want her to do that, because he told her “It’s Dad!” and Penny knows exactly what that means. She practically dragged David down the road to the house.

Beth and I changed clothes, and we joined David and Penny for a walk to Sandogardy Pond. Beth swam. David threw sticks for Penny, and I went looking for blooms. I happened to notice a couple with a teenage boy walking along the beach and staring intently into the woods. The dad looked like he was taking notes. I kept an eye on them. Shortly, the mom and the teen ducked into the woods – right where I know a geocache to be located. I approached the Dad and asked, “Looking for a geocache?” He answered with a definite “Yup!”

I told him that the cache they were after was the first one I had ever found. Pretty soon the conversation turned to fish, and from there to plants. He said that plant identification is a new hobby for him, and that he was particularly interested in edible wild plants.

He also told me that he had been looking for wintergreen for an eternity, and when he finally found out what it was, he realized that it had been staring him in the face for a long time. It’s everywhere around here (and a few have begun to bloom this week).

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbnes)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbnes)


Then he asked if I knew where to find Indian cucumber root. Indeed, I did! The biggest patch I know of was less than a hundred yards away, and they had just walked past it. We headed back into the woods and I showed it to him.

I dug one up and handed him the tuber. He broke a piece off for himself and for his son, and then handed me the remainder. It wasn’t very big at all – just a taste really. He asked for a small piece back again so he could give it to his wife (she did not follow us into the woods). They were very nice people!

After they left, I went back to the dock and saw some bullfrogs.

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)


This was the biggest one of them, and it was not all that big. The others were probably less than a year old (and a lot harder to get close to).

On the way back to the house, I noticed an uncommon milkweed:

Tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

Tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)


This species of milkweed is a new one to me, and the id is tentative. I believe there’s another like it growing next to my mailbox, and I was sure I had tagged it in my photo manager with its species name in the past – but the only milkweed in my list is the common milkweed.

So not only did I meet some fellow geocachers and another edible wild plant enthusiast, I got to see a new plant too!

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. 🙂

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!

This afternoon Beth and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. Beth rode her bike, and I held Penny’s leash. I kept my eyes to the sides of the road most of the way there looking for flowers, and such.

Here is some “such”

Unknown Fungus

Unknown Fungus


I took a stab at identifying this little fungus, but came up empty-handed. There were three clumps of it growing in the ditch beside the road. Whatever it is, I like it!

Nearby, I spotted some False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) just beginning to bloom:

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)


I have some of this on my own property, but it’s not as far along as this specimen. I guess I’ll be seeing more of it over the next couple of weeks.

We soon came to the Class VI road (meaning it is not maintained at all) that leads to the pond. About halfway down that road under a large white pine is the only place I know where I can find Lily-of-the-valley. I’ve been checking on it every time I go down there, and today I struck pay-dirt:

Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)


Too bad these flowers won’t last very long.

All along that road I saw plenty of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acuale). Even though I’ve posted plenty of lady slippers in the past couple of weeks, I could not resist these triplets growing towards the end of that road.

Three pink lady's slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

Triplets!

When we arrived at the pond, I found a nice northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) in bloom. I’ve got plenty of the lowbush variety at my place (and all along the road and trails to the pond), but there aren’t very many highbush:

Northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Then I checked one of the bunchberry haunts.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)


These were spotted in Maine last week, so I knew I should find some here just any time now. Bunchberry is an interesting plant. It belongs to the same genus as the dogwood trees, but it sure seems pretty different to me. Also, those white petals are not petals at all, but rather, sepals. The petals are little tiny things in the center of the sepals.

I walked around the beach to the trail that follows the stream draining the pond. There, I found a large patch of indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) in bloom.

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

A little farther down I came to the patch of corn lily, aka blue bead lily, aka Clintonia borealis.

Clintonia borealis

Clintonia borealis


These flowers will turn into blue bead-like berries later this summer. They look delicious, but are not edible. The leaves are supposed to be, but they should be picked before they uncurl. I think they’re well beyond that stage now. Maybe next spring I’ll try them.

The trail along the creek ends when it hits the class IV road. At that point, the road is much more a trail than a road, and there’s a small wooden bridge used by snowmobiles and ATV’s. In the marshy spot along the creek right there by the bridge is a stand of false hellebore (Veratrum viride). That’s a plant I learned only recently. Last year I tried keeping an eye on it so I could get a shot of its flowers, but I never saw any. So I continue with that this year. I’m getting close:

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)

False hellebore (Veratrum viride)


I don’t know if I missed them again, or if they’re about to open. I’ll try to get back again as soon as I can to check them out.

Sunday morning I woke up kind of early, at least for me. After breakfast, I asked Beth if she wanted to walk down to the pond, but she said she was not interested. David had gone back to bed, as is his wont on Sunday mornings. So it was just Penny and I. I got the leash and we headed out.

We didn’t get too far when I found one of the blooms I had been looking for:

American Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

American Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)


This is American Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata). I have a fair amount of it on my property near the catchment pond and along the driveway. None of it has bloomed yet, and indeed, none of it is looking very good. I think the lack of rain has affected it. But there was plenty of it in bloom along the road to Sandogardy.

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)


Elderberry is a common plant that I only recently learned to identify. The berries are edible, and I had a handful before I took this photo. Maybe I should have waited until afterwards, but they looked so good, I was unable to resist. I’d love to harvest a bunch of this, but this is the only tree I know of around my regular stomping grounds.

Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)


The spotted jewelweed (above) is going full steam ahead about now. These are lovely flowers, and are said to have the fastest mechanism in the plant kingdom. Once it goes to seed, the seeds pods are highly sensitive – any disturbance will cause them to explode, scattering seeds everywhere. That’s where its other common name comes from – touch-me-not.

When I arrived at the pond it was only about 9:00am. There were several people there already: two girls on bikes (they had passed me on the road); a couple of guys fishing. I should get up earlier so I can have the pond to myself. Not that I mind sharing though, and these people all seemed nice enough. Penny even managed to convince one of them to throw a stick a couple of times. She can be very persuasive!

But I was savoring my solitude, so after a quick check for new blooms, and finding none (possible because the check was so quick), I moved on, plunging into the woods through which the stream draining the pond flows.

I was on the lookout for Clintonia (aka corn lily, aka blue-bead lily). There is a stand of it growing along the trail there. Before I got to it though, I came across some Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana).

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)


This too is an edible plant, though the berries shown here are not. As the name implies, the root tastes like cucumber. I have sampled it in the past and would love to make a meal of them someday, but it just doesn’t grow abundantly enough to make that a realistic (or responsible) choice.

I found the stand of Clintonia, but it was past time for the blue beads already. I’m not sure when they fall off the plant, but it looked to me like it had happened well in the past. Since they sported no blue beads, I didn’t take any photos.

I crossed the bridge over the stream and took a look around there. I had been flipping through my Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants book the previous evening, and low and behold, I saw a cluster of berries that I remembered seeing in the book.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)


I couldn’t remember what it was though, so I had to look it up again when I got home. Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is another plant that is well known by many, but new to me. This is the first specimen I have found. Peterson describes the berries , but doesn’t say they are edible, so I assume they are not. The root however, forms a corm that he describes as quite good – so long as it is thoroughly dried first. Otherwise, it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which cause severe burning in the mouth. I’d like to come back and dig one up so I could try it, and you can be sure I will let it dry thoroughly first.

As much as I enjoy the company of my kids, it is nice to occasionally take a walk alone. What I like about solo hikes is that I can set the pace without worrying that I’m going too fast for someone – or more importantly, too slow. They are often more interested in getting to the pond as quickly as possible, and do not like to wait around while old Dad takes pictures of yet another plant. I go for the journey. They go for the destination. I think Penny goes in case someone will throw a stick.