Our last stop for the day was at Killarney National Park where we walked a trail leading to Torc Waterfall. The forest we walked through was enchanting and wild. Unfortunately, it was here that I first felt an ominous scratch in my throat. But I was able to enjoy the hike and push away that nagging feeling that I was going to be in for it, a least for a couple more hours…
I think I love the woods as much as the sea. It was a wonderful day!
So… there were other treasures waiting to be discovered while we were on our long hike Saturday. In 1907 the mountain laurel, a lovely native American shrub, was designated as the official state flower of Connecticut. They are just starting to blossom and we saw loads of them.
I was raised by the melody Of the whispering grove And learned to love Among the flowers. ~ Friedrich Hölderlin (Odes & Elegies)
Now, the staff at the arboretum is keeping a meadow open for habitat for several kinds of animals and birds. They also erected several birdhouses and we did see a tree swallow looking out the “window.”
These shots were very hard to get because they were taken from so far away. I didn’t have a tripod to stabilize the camera and the zoom lens. I climbed a bank on the side of the trail, through a thicket of plants and saplings, and then leaned one arm on a tree to steady my grip, trying to avoid the gypsy moth caterpillars. (I wound up bringing at least one tick home – I hope I won’t find any more…) Even though I had to delete most of the shots I took it was a thrill to get home and find that these three came out!
I love all the orbs I captured…
We were just thinking of turning around and retracing our steps when Beverly was beckoned by yet another tree growing through the rocks. So we left the path and carefully navigated our way through uneven terrain of rocks and bushes. I found a spot to take the picture. More orbs!
After finding our way back to the trail I finally put away the camera, took a long drink of water, sprayed on some more bug repellent and enjoyed the long walk back, hands free.
May 2, 2020: When this post was first published I misidentified the bird as a baby bluebird, a mistake that was pointed out to me recently by much more knowledgeable friends. Consensus is that the brightly colored bird is an adult tree swallow! I have edited the text above, but the comments below reflect my original error. Sorry about that!
On Saturday afternoon my sister and I did some hiking in the uncultivated part of the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was like being in the woods we played in and rambled through as children. We encountered a doe along our path, she stopped short when she spotted us and then darted off sideways into the woods.
Nature — sometimes sears a Sapling — Sometimes — scalps a Tree — Her Green People recollect it When they do not die — ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #457)
When I was at the doctor for a check-up last week he said it seemed like he was treating nothing but rashes from these little villains. Why do people even touch them, I wondered? But they can dangle from invisible threads and I was startled when I walked right into one. No rash, so far…
Death is like the insect Menacing the tree Competent to kill it, But decoyed may be.
Bait it with the balsam Seek it with the saw, Baffle, it cost you Everything you are.
Then, if it have burrowed Out of reach of skill — Wring the tree and leave it. ‘Tis the vermin’s will.
~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1783)
For some reason I am drawn to trees that seem dead, but sculptural, and yet still have a few green leaves up near the crown. Sometimes dying is a very gradual process.
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~ William Shakespeare (As You Like It)
One will see roots while looking down (photo above), of course, but also when looking up (photo below). The tree below decided it could grow sticking out of a rock face, high above the ground. There must have been just enough soil between the layers of rock for it to sustain itself. Maybe it is strong enough to move the rock some to give the roots more space.
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can. ~ William Wordsworth (The Tables Turned)
Ferns (above) with visible roots growing on the rock face. Plenty of moss to soften the surface, too.
A tree (above) seems to have been blown over in a storm and left with a large cavity between its roots and the rock below. Stones and boulders, dumped by receding glaciers eons ago, are so ubiquitous in Connecticut and it seems the trees have no choice but to grow above, below, around and between them.
I wondered if someone might have set this stone deliberately pointing up as a benchmark for future hiking adventures. It’s amazing to contemplate that these stone walls deep in the woods once surrounded fields and pastures in colonial days. Farmers used the stones cluttering their land to build the walls but in the end, growing crops was difficult. Many eventually abandoned their homes and headed west for better farmland. The woods slowly came back and claimed the landscape once again.
I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide: Where the grey flocks in ferny glens are feeding; Where the wild wind blows on the mountainside. ~ Emily Brontë (The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë)
Sunday turned out to be the best day for Janet and me to begin exploring Pachaug State Forest, which is the largest one in Connecticut, with a total of 24,000 acres in parts of five towns, including Voluntown, where we began.
We had to adjust to not having signs to identify the trees and plants we were looking at. This place is pretty wild, not like the well-marked arboretum we’re used to!
There were a lot of unusual mushrooms, like the red one with white dots (above) and the huge rust colored ones sticking out of a stump (below)…
Next trip Janet is going to introduce me to me kayaking! Wonder if I’ll have to leave my camera on the shore…
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…
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!