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!

Word has it that we might see an aurora tonight, so I’ve been keeping an eye on the sky since sunset. That’s hard to do at my house since we live in the woods. Luckily, Sandogardy Pond’s beach is on its south shore giving a decent tree-free view of the northern horizon. So I drove over (it was dark!) to take a look there:

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond

This was a 15 second exposure. You can see most of the Big Dipper there towards the left. But no aurora.

Sigh.

The whorled loosestrife has bloomed.

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Penny woke me up from a nap this afternoon, so I went outside (it was beautiful). I was tooling around the backyard when I noticed the loosestrife in bloom. As I was taking the picture, Beth was sneaking up on me. She’s been trying to do this for some time, but I usually detect her when she’s quite a way off. Not today. She was right there when she announced her presence. I think she was pleased with herself (I know I would have been).

Then she asked if I wanted to go to Sandogardy Pond, and of course I did, so we stopped in the house for Penny’s leash and then set out.

The bugs weren’t bad, and the temperature was right around 70, or maybe even below (it’s 66 now). She talked pretty much the whole trip, which I enjoyed. We picked up trash, and she couldn’t figure out why people would just throw it on the ground like they do. I have to admit that it boggles my mind as well.

When we got to the pond I walked along the edge of the water looking for pipewort, but found none. Instead, I found a plant that I did not know:

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)


These flowers are tiny. I don’t think they’re even an eight of an inch across, and that made them pretty difficult to photograph. Autofocus couldn’t find them, so I had to whip out the tripod, put my finger next to the bloom, let it focus on that, move my finger, and then press the button (with a two-second delay since the exposure time was longish). This one came out semi-respectably. I found another clump of it further down the beach, and since it had a denser cluster of blooms, I took a shot of it as well.

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Stiff marsh bedstraw (Galium tinctorium)

Then I looked it up in Newcombs (3 for 3 petals, 4 for whorled leaves, and 2 for smooth leaf margins, or 342). That’s the same index number as trilliums, but the index number is really just to get you close. Bedstraw was on the next page.

This is an unusual plant in that it’s a 3-petaled dicot. Most plants with three or (six petals) are monocots (i.e., narrow leaves, with parallel veins in them, like corn and lilies). The dicots have broader leaves (in general) and have branched veins.

I can’t think of another 3-petaled dicot. I may have to open the books again!

In other news, I have finally gotten around to working on restoring those canoes again. Miss Nancy is ready to varnish. Once that’s done, I can make her a new thwart, attach it, and mount the two seats, and she will be ready to paddle. Miss Emma will need gunwales attached (I milled them last fall), re-varnished, and then she can get trimmed out with the thwart-seat combo I made last year, plus her two original seats. Miss Sally only needs a section of gunwale repaired, and then have her thwart reattached. That’ s pretty much all that’s left.

We might get to paddle them by September.

I have been wanting to go snowshoeing pretty much all winter, but things have seemed to conspire against me. Either I didn’t have enough snow, or I didn’t have enough time. Today, I had enough of both, so Penny and I set out for Sandogardy Pond. I don’t know when I was last there, but I do know it’s my first time since taking a new job in NH in November.

I always like to take pictures of Cross Brook (or as I prefer to call it, Little Cohas Brook).

Cross Brook

Cross Brook

Penny was afraid to cross the bridge, so she started making motions to swim the brook. I called her off, but she really thought I was going to cross and didn’t want to be left behind. I attribute that more to her being a dog than to anything special about me. 😉 I told her to sit, and she did.

Penny waits obediently

Penny waits obediently


I took another shot or two of the brook and then turned around and came back across to her. She seemed relieved.

I didn’t notice this at first:

Stray paddleboat

Stray paddleboat


It’s a paddle boat. It’s owned by some people who live on the pond, but I’m not sure exactly which house they live in. Also, I didn’t see an easy way for me to rescue their boat without risking hypothermia, so I let it be. Maybe someone with an ATV or snowmobile could pull it out.

This hike was very much needed, both by me and by Penny who has not had a decent hike since at least November. I’ve been busy with so many things. One of them was this:

Ship in a Bottle

My Pinewood Derby entry


My Pinewood Derby car. Yes, it’s a ship in a bottle. Lots of people asked how I got it in there, and I told them I had a shrink ray and that it was a real boat. I had shrunk it smaller than that so I could fit it through the mouth of the bottle and then put it in reverse and tapped it a few times. It didn’t unshrink the bottle though, because the bottle is glass and the ray would just go straight through it.

But the real answer is that the mast folded down (towards the stern). It slipped in fairly easily with the mast pushed back, and once it was in there, I pulled it up with the rigging. I tacked the thread to the jib-boom with s dot of super glue (which sailors of old surely lacked).

The sails are made from a tea bag, and the ship is set in the bottle in wax. Once I had the boat inside, I shaved some wax, dropped it in, and set it on the stove until it melted. Then I set the boat in position and let the wax harden.

Nothing to it!

The Pinewood Derby was the last part of a very long day. It started with our annual Pathfinder Sabbath. We did a “Newscast” from Jericho in the time of Joshua. The kids did a great job, but the whole program was plagued with technical difficulties. After that we had a potluck lunch, and then went into the Bible Bowl, which is like a quiz show. This year the material all came from the book of Joshua (which is why we selected that for our newscast).

Then we had supper followed by the Pinewood Derby. All-in-all, I very much enjoyed the day, in spite of the technical difficulties.

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.

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 took Penny snowshoeing on Sandogardy Pond today. It’s about the only thing I can do with her that wears her out more than it wears me out. This is something she needs, as she doesn’t get nearly as much exercise as a typical border collie needs.

While we were out I captured three different gaits she left in the snow.

In the deep snow she would “weasel jump”:

Weasel jumping

Weasel jumping


Weasel jumping is what tires her out so much. Each leap and she would find herself buried chest-deep in the snow only to launch herself forward again. It made me tired just watching her. She can still outrun me in deep snow though. Weasel jumping might take it out of her, but it’s quite a bit faster than snowshoeing. Even if I had been running in the snowshoes, I don’t think I could overtake her.

We finally made it to a place where the snow mobiles had gone before us and broke the trail. She could gallop like normal through that:

Gallop

Gallop

But she would only do that when I threw a stick. All that weasel jumping convinced her that walking was a better option.

Walking

Walking

When we got to the pond we walked all the way across it (well… within 50 feet of all the way across). Someone else had been out there with snowshoes too, but I think it was before Monday’s additional two inches of snow we got. They crossed it from west to east to west. Penny and I crossed it from south to north to south.

Then we went home.