Last night Janet brought a good portion of her scrumptious blueberry harvest to the Connecticut College Arboretum, where we all enjoyed Shakespeare-under-the-Stars with our niece Bonnie and her children, Kia and Khari. We had a delightful evening watching and laughing at the abundant witticisms in the dialog of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Flock Theatre put on an entertaining performance, with Anne Flemmang’s portrayal of Beatrice particularly winning. The humidity had been oppressive all day, but evening brought a refreshing cool breeze across the arboretum’s pond, and the bats and dragonflies flitting about were keeping the mosquito population well under control.
As we left we were given another container of blueberries! Thank you, Janet! So for breakfast this morning Tim whipped up some blueberry pancakes which we all loved, and we can now recommend Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Pancake & Waffle Mix whole-heartedly as a good choice for those of us allergic to wheat. We brought out the pure maple syrup we got at the Hebron Maple Festival in March. Yummy…
We also learned that Kia and Khari are proud members of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Both are very informed about the big cats and which ones do well and breed well in captivity and which ones conservationists are having more trouble helping. They are also very familiar with Shakespeare’s plays. We had such a good time getting to know them a little more and we may be seeing them again for The Tempest in August!
For future reference I’m listing all the plays we’ve seen put on by Flock Theatre (Artistic Director, Derron Wood) at Connecticut College Arboretum:
2002 – Oedipus Rex by Sophocles 2006 – Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare 2008 – Lysistrata by Aristophanes 2009 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare 2010 – Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
Now the meadow was full of flowers and dragonflies and we really enjoyed our few minutes there, but the sun was hot and we longed for the cool shade again. So we left the meadow on the other side, and wandered through the woods for a while until we stumbled across the woodland garden we found in May. No Cheshire cat to host us this time, and no other visitors. There wasn’t as much blooming as there was on our earlier visit, except for tall meadow rue, wild leek and lilium medeoloides. But the rue and lily were so lovely they more than made up for the lack of other blooms!!! In the picture above, Janet is examining an insect who was busy devouring the lily’s leaves.
The woods were made for the hunters of dreams, The brooks for the fishers of song; To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game The streams and the woods belong. There are thoughts that moan from the soul of pine And thoughts in a flower bell curled; And the thoughts that are blown with the scent of the fern Are as new and as old as the world. ~ Sam Walter Foss (A Trail for All Seasons: Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail in Words & Pictures)
I will be the gladdest thing Under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers And not pick one. ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay (Afternoon on a Hill)
On our way back to the exit we spotted a cactus with a few yellow blooms left on it! And, yes, we then headed for Ruby Tuesday again for those luscious strawberry lemonades! Looking forward to Shakespeare-in-the-Arboretum next week…
This is fun, I get to use all kinds poetry to go with my photos… But after this I might run out of new poems to decorate with!
We found a meadow in the arboretum, stunningly sunny and bright. Yes, there were plenty of dragonflies in all colors and sizes. One even had a huge dark body paired with totally transparent wings. Again, the contrast between the sunlight and the shade was very sharp.
Most of my efforts to capture them with my weary camera failed, as I half expected. However, there was one very special BLUE one! And it held still for a very long time. Long enough for me to come to my senses and use the zoom and get a shot. One more click, got it again!
Poking around online I have learned (from Wikipedia) that “the Norwegian word for dragonflies is ‘Øyenstikker’, which literally means Eye Poker.” And that just as people who love to watch birds are birding, ones who love to watch dragonflies are oding. And that “oding is especially popular in Texas, where a total of 225 species of odonates in the world have been observed.” Well, that would explain why Lili gets so many great dragonfly pictures down there!
And magically, yesterday, Paul stopped by with a gift from Linda, an amazing knitted square with a dragonfly knitted right into the design! Paul said it was a pot holder but it’s too pretty and delicate to be used in the kitchen. And it doesn’t have a loop to hang it up. (And I hope I don’t get him in trouble for not delivering it sooner, he said he had carried it around for a few days – or was it weeks?)
Silently a flower blooms, In silence it falls away; Yet here now, at this moment, at this place, the whole of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming. This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom; The glory of eternal life is fully shining here. ~ Zenkei Shibayama (A Flower Does Not Talk: Zen Essays)
A garden chapter of this rambling account should soon follow this post…
Every time I see mushrooms I think of Paul Stamets and his theory about mycelium, “the vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching thread like hyphae.”
I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape. ~ Paul Stamets (Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)
I first read about Stamets a few years ago when I was waiting and skimming through magazines at my aunt’s dentist’s office. The idea of the earth being conscious was something I already believed in and the article I was reading mentioned something about the connections between fungi physically resembling the neurons in human brains. I was captivated and ordered his book that night. At some point I found a talk he gave on TED, 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.
I have to admit that I began reading the book but couldn’t continue because it was scientifically way over my head. I brought the book to my Dad, the microbiologist, and my brother-in-law, the botanist, and they devoured it and were impressed by the theory as well. My brother-in-law commented that the idea was in line with what they were researching when he used to work at The New Alchemy Institute, before it evolved into The Green Center.
But I digress and must return to our walk. Yesterday I was having a lot of trouble organizing the post and accidentally published it before I was done. Wasn’t sure if I could un-publish it without deleting it so I decided to call it a day.
Janet and I kept leaving the trails in pursuit of getting a closer look at some of the more unusual trees. The first one had a benign tumor, or a burl. The burl could have been caused by an injury, infection, or an unformed bud gone haywire. Any of these things can trigger the cells to grow excessively and unevenly, leaving it with unique shapes and ring patterns. Woodworkers and artists often find creative ways to use the patterns found in burled wood.
We saw a lot of poison ivy and thought we did a pretty good job of avoiding it. But it would seem I got zapped somehow and within 48 hours broke out in a mild rash. Apparently as we age there is a tendency for the reaction we get to be less severe, which seems to be what is happening with me. Benadryl is keeping the itch pretty tolerable. One thing is puzzling though, the rash is on my neck and arms. I’ve had it on my neck another time – four years ago after we attended outdoor concerts two nights in a row at the amphitheater in Saratoga Springs, New York. We were in the woods but stayed on the sidewalks. On our way home the rash broke out so I went to the walk-in clinic here and they said it was poison ivy! Such a possibility had never entered my mind.
I wonder why it broke out on my neck that time and this time, too. The only other time I’ve had it was when I was a kid and it was all over my face and arms. That time I could logically trace it to the fact that I had been crawling around on my hands and knees playing hide and seek in the bushes at a picnic. It was a crummy way to start the summer, and it was much worse than this episode.
Janet noticed a tree which seemed to have four or five trunks reaching up from the main trunk. So off we went to get a closer look, leaving the trail behind us – somewhere…. Goodness knows what we were walking through…
Still can’t figure out what was so mesmerizing abut this tree. I just had to touch it. It has a very strong energy and I bet we couldn’t find it again if we were required to. (I’m still looking for another tree I saw there last winter…)
A Murmur in the Trees – to note – Not loud enough – for Wind – A Star – not far enough to seek – Nor near enough – to find – ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #433)
After meandering around, not really that lost, we spotted a bright sunny clearing beyond the trees! So we forgot about locating the trail again, and headed off to discover what we might find in a summer meadow. Maybe dragonflies?
The meadow chapter of the story will have to be put into the next post…
He walked and he walked, and the earth and the holiness of the earth came up through the soles of his feet. ~ Gretel Ehrlich (Legacy of Light)
…Cool, verdant spaces Beneath the trees Secret empty places Nobody knows… ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter ♫ (I Have a Need for Solitude) ♫
Last week we had a spell of absolutely perfect weather. No humidity and comfortable mid-70 temperatures. One morning Janet and I went out for a lengthy walk deep into the woods. We were beckoned off the paths a few times and got a little lost, well, not terribly lost, just a little confused… As far as I can tell, we only went around in a circle once, and only had to retrace our steps one time.
I have only recently learned that stone walls, which I see everywhere I go, are almost completely absent outside of New England. The first European settlers to arrive here started clearing the woods for their farms, and the exposed topsoil began to erode. Rain would soak deeper into the subsoil, which was full of rocks. When the moisture froze and expanded, it pushed these rocks to the surface, and they began to call them New England potatoes. What better thing to do with the “crop” than to clear them off the fields and build them into stone walls?
In the 1800s people began abandoning their farms to live in cities or to move out west as pioneers in the westward expansion, and the woods came back to much of New England. And so it is that one cannot take a walk in the woods without encountering at least one of these ubiquitous grey stone walls.
On this day the sky was bluer than blue and the sun was so bright, its light penetrating through the tree canopy wherever the leaves let it through. The contrast between the splotches of bright light and dark cool shade was striking.
To see the Summer Sky Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie – True Poems flee – ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1491)
Sun-stone’s kiss, midsummer pleasure, Welcome all and some. ~ Caitlín Matthews (The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)
The stars speak through the stones. Light shines in the densest matter. Earth and heaven are one. Our physical beings and our heavenly souls are united in the mystery of being. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm (Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century)
Yesterday Janet and I took a three-hour stroll through the Connecticut College Arboretum, and I came home with 147 pictures! First we made our way through the native plant collection…
… and then hiked through the woods, noticing the abundance of mountain laurel and flowering dogwood under the dying hemlocks, which used to rule the forest. Finally we made our way to a secret garden hidden in a corner of the arboretum, the Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden.
We opened the gate and were soon greeted by a Cheshire cat, who let us know that it ‘didn’t matter which way we went’ in his lush and untamed neck of the woods. He appeared and disappeared as we explored the maze of paths, drawing our attention to various wildflowers and settings.
Janet will have to identify some of these flowers…
We were surprised to discover that maidenhair ferns have black stems – the black and green contrast was striking!
See the cinnamon sticks in the cinnamon fern?
To see the world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour. ~ William Blake (Auguries of Innocence)
There are a couple of Jacks-in-the-Pulpit (aka Indian Turnips) in this picture if you look carefully – they’re not fully in bloom yet.
Sadly, all the hemlocks are slowly dying… new life is taking hold under bare branches…
The Cheshire cat disappeared before we could say good-bye.
After this delightful sojourn we sat and rested for a bit and studied our map. We still haven’t seen the whole arboretum, even after three hours! So we’re planning another visit in a month, when different things will be in bloom, and of course, we hope to come and see Shakespeare-in-the-Arboretum in July, too. Plans made, we then headed for Ruby Tuesday and quenched our thirsts with two strawberry lemonades each!