Field Trip: Butterfield Pond Trail in Winter

Here’s what the Butterfield Pond trail looked like in mid-September.

And here’s what it looked like a week or so ago, on the coldest day I can recall this winter — the high was 16F, the low was 2F, and the wind was brisk, even gusty, so the temperature with wind chill was well below 0F. I wore my usual gloves but my hands were never warm for the whole 1-1/2 hours we walked, covering two miles.

Our progress was slowed by me, taking photos, and by me again, taking the long way around slick steep trails, preferring my chances in slightly crunchier snow and lots of tree trunks to hang onto. We wore stabilicers (attachments for the bottom of our boots with metal spikes in them; this is the kind I have … my next pair will be the Hike version) but there were spots of pure ice where they just didn’t give enough traction on a downhill slope. Here’s my spouse reattaching one of his after it came off:



The bridge from the parking lot to the trail was icy (photo taken looking back at the parking lot):


The brook was icy, too, but also had some open — and at times, rushing — water:


And the pond – yes, also icy (spouse is actually walking on the pond here):


People keep canoes and fishing boats stashed all along the pond, because the walk-in is about 1/2 a mile:



The trail was more icy than snowy, but there was still plenty of snow in the woods:


This was the steepest, iciest section, but it’s hard to see in a photo:



This trail has many trees growing over rocks and boulders:


There was quite a lot of bright green moss showing through the ice and snow:


And some black lichen (maybe rock tripe lichen?) on this boulder:


I saw lots of  wintergreen plants (Gaultheria procumbens), some with cheerful red berries still attached (and lycopodium, or club moss, also in view):



We came upon this scat, which looked a lot like Cheetoes but we weren’t fooled; turns out (per Mary Holland) that it’s ruffed grouse scat, a long pellet with a uric acid whitewash:



This bird’s nest lying on the snow was a sweet little find:


And this gorgeous rock:



I was pretty happy to get back to the car:



Garden Blogger’s Bloomday — March 2017

Well, no blooms here yet. In fact, yesterday, just when we were seeing snow melt and some bare ground, another 14-18″ of snow fell (measurements varied around the yard). But the day before this nor’easter, I spotted some daffodils poking their heads tentatively above the ground. I can’t imagine what they are thinking now.


The only other flower action in the garden now is the budding of the Pieris japonica (Andromeda) shrubs, which, in bud and leaf, is quite stunning against the snow.


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens.

See some real blooms at danger garden in Portland OR; A Guide to Northeastern Gardening in Long Island NY (hellebore!); The Nature of Things – zone 9a; rusty duck in SW England (more hellebore, plus muscari, camellias, pieris in bloom, more) …

Get Your Hoe Ready!

DSTGetYourHoeReadyposter.jpgTonight, most of us in the U.S. will set our clocks one hour ahead (or they will be automagically set ahead to match the time of an atomic clock operated by National Institute of Standards and Technology  in Boulder, CO).

Daylight saving time (DST) in the U.S. — by which clocks are advanced one hour in the spring and moved back one hour in fall when we return to standard time — was formally written into U.S. law in 1918 (only 25 years after the U.S. was divided into time zones), after countries in Europe instituted it during World War I as an energy savings measure, though even before that, Benjamin Franklin’s 1784 essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” (in the The Journal of Paris) suggests, “although jokingly, that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead.” Others, including New Zealand George Vernon Hudson in 1895 and British builder William Willett in 1905, also suggested changes to time in spring and fall, and it was Willett’s scheme that eventually led to DST in the UK, adopted in May 1916.

Although proponents could briefly claim “Victory!” when DST became U.S. law in 1918 under President Woodrow Wilson, only seven months later the federal law was repealed. However, cities including Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York  continued to use it (was this not confusing?) until President Franklin D. Roosevelt reinstituted it in 1942.

7:30 p.m. on 1 May 2013

Before 1966, there was really no continuity of standards concerning DST in the U.S., causing “widespread confusion especially for trains, buses, and the broadcasting industry. As a result, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was established by Congress,” mandating that DST begin the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Briefly, following the 1973 oil embargo, Congress extended DST to a 10-month period in 1974 (from 6 Jan to 27 Oct) and an eight-month period in 1975 (23 Feb to 26 Oct), which did save energy (perhaps the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil per day) but meant children walked to school and to bus stops in the dark most of the year. From 1976 to 2006, DST reverted to its previous length from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, but in 2007, it changed again, in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, so that the length is now about a month longer, from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, about 67% of the year — so it’s actually more standard than Standard Time, right?

6:50 p.m. on 14 July 2013 — borage and sand cherry in the fruit guild

Even with the national law in place, states could still pass their own ordinances to exempt themselves from the law. The only states that don’t participate now are Hawaii and Arizona (though the Navajo Indian Reservation does). Indiana held out for a long time but finally instituted it in 2006.

7:05 p.m. on 4 July 2011 — front border

The plan — the point of which is to give us more daylight in the evening during months when the weather is the warmest, so we’ll be doing things outdoors and not using energy (and candles) inside — was not without much controversy then, or now. In the early part of the 20th century, it was “popular with some and wildly unpopular with others. In general, city dwellers and factory workers appreciated the extra hour of daylight in the evening that allowed them to work in their Victory Gardens and to attend afternoon ball games. In the country, farmers — whose days conformed to sunlight, not a clock —  complained that Daylight Saving actually cost them an hour of daylight, making farm workers an hour late getting to the fields” (excerpted from cached copy of “Playing With Time: The Introduction of Daylight Saving Time in Connecticut”)

6:05 p.m. on 21 June 2012 – blooming dianthus, iris, ‘Olga Mezitt’ rhododendron, hellebore foliage
7 p.m. on 1 July 2011 – new back border with veronicastrum (Culver’s Root) and various yarrow
7 pm on 10 Aug 2016 – front border with ‘Hab Grey’ sedum, ‘Gold Standard’ hostas, zinnias

Just yesterday, an article published in the Portland (ME) Press Herald, “Now there’s proof daylight saving time is dumb, dangerous and costly,” asserts that “[t]he case for daylight saving time has been shaky for a while. The biannual time change was originally implemented to save energy. Yet dozens of studies around the world have found that changing the clocks has either minuscule or non-existent effects on energy use.” Another article notes that “‘When you give Americans more daylight at the end of the day, they get into their cars,'” which “why the petroleum industry [and allied gas station-convenience stores] has been a longtime supporter of the time change.” Not only does it possibly not save energy use or oil consumption (and may increase it), but there can be harmful effects of losing and gaining an hour, including the loss of an hour of sleep and the disruption to our biological clocks (“Car accidents, strokes, and heart attacks spike in the days after the March time change”) and economic impacts (“After the autumn time change, shoppers made far fewer trips to the store, especially during the week”).

5:30 p.m. on 13 April 2016 – blooming crocuses
6:40 p.m. on 30 June 2015 – shade garden
8:25 p.m. on 6 July 2011
6:40 p.m. on 14 July 2013 – ‘Blue Cadet’ hosta in shade garden

I’m not really sure how I feel about DST. I am not a morning person, so the sudden darkness of March and April mornings doesn’t bother me much. I don’t work away from home, so I don’t really need another hour of light in the warmer months (after work and dinner) in which to garden, and even if I did, there is really very little outdoor gardening to be done here in northern New England until June anyway. What I do like is that “certain slant of light,” not only on a winter’s (non-DST) afternoon but also on a March afternoon, in the sunroom,

sunroom on the afternoon of 4 March 2016

and on a summer evening outside in the garden, with the possibility of patio parties extending well into the evening in July and August.

patio party prep at 4 p.m. on 6 July 2013
patio and backyard at 5:35 p.m. on 4 Aug 2016

I think for me the hardest part is losing the precious little evening light in the fall, but by November here (and even October), gardening is finished and I am starting to feel a bit like hibernating anyway. On the whole, I guess I like it. If I lived some place with a minor-league baseball team, I would like it even more.

7:10 p.m. on 4 July 2011 — ‘Rozanne’ geraniums
8:30 p.m. on 12 July 2013 – raspberries
8:20 p.m. on 7 July 2012 – ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon, shed, lawn
7:15 p.m. on 26 June 2016 – amsonia, ‘Vermillionaire’ firecracker annual, ‘So Sweet’ hosta
7 p.m. on 24 Aug 2015 – purple cosmos

(Poster from LOC collection.)


Someone Was Looking

The garden motion camera — a source of wonder, surprise, and pleasure for me. I eagerly anticipate checking the photos it’s taken, which I do about once a week. What will appear? Who will have visited?

At night there are almost always fox, and now that spring approaches, raccoon, and soon deer, skunk, and maybe bear and coyote (rare visitors).

But daytime captures are often just as interesting and fun to see: squirrels leaping, crows soaring low, mourning doves and blue jays coming in for a landing, and all of them caught in a momentary pose that I probably wouldn’t notice with my eyes alone.


Grey Squirrel

grey squirrel on the move, 13 January morning
grey squirrel leaping, 25 January morning
grey squirrel, 23 February morning
grey squirrel, 6 March morning


Blue Jay

blue jay, 8 January morning
blue jay and mourning dove, 13 January morning


More Mourning Dove

mourning doves, 3 March afternoon



crow landing, 5 January morning
crow landing, 5 January morning
crow, 3 March morning
crow silhouetted in flight, with snow shadow, 4 March morning
crows, 3 March morning
murder of crows in falling snow, 9 March morning


“What was
the photo meant
to document? Not
that we were there—
or anywhere—but that
someone was looking.”
— Andrea Cohen, closing lines to “Shadow of”

Wednesday Vignette



Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. — Bertolt Brecht

I walk around this lake a couple of times most weeks.
It’s never the same.
It’s a good reminder.


Wednesday vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.
danger garden and Dirt Therapy participate, too.

Field Trip in Winter

I’m taking a winter botany class through adult education this month. One of our walks was  along Mink Brook, in Hanover, NH. As our class stood in the parking area, we spotted two minks, chasing each other along the bank of the brook! I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to capture it, unfortunately, but it was thrilling to see them. The only other place I have seen mink, twice, was along creeks on Jekyll Island, GA.

I went back to the trails a couple of days later and took a few different paths. Didn’t see the mink that day, but here are some other photos of flora and fauna (mostly flora, because winter botany), plus snowy landscape views. Hope you enjoy.

You can see the minks’ tracks along the snowy shore!

There’s a kiosk with trail maps and other info near the small parking area off Route 10 in Hanover (there’s also a bigger parking lot up the hill from the trails).


The Mink Brook Nature Preserve is a 112-acre preserve meant to protect habitat for wild brook trout, waterfowl, black bears, minks, et al.

mallards and a black duck
female mallard shaking it in the brook
black duck


There are two brooks in the preserve, the smaller Trout Brook and the larger Mink Brook, which is a direct tributary to the Connecticut River, which eventually flows into the Long Island Sound.

brook through snow
icy curving brook
mist rising over snow and brook
“Cross with care” — icy bridge over roaring brook


Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.
Emily Dickinson)


The Upper Valley Land Trust collaborated with the Conservancy to buy the Preserve and it now holds the conservation easement; also part of the same trail system are the Angelo Tanzi Tract, owned by the Town of Hanover.

The Hanover Conservancy oversees Mink Brook Nature Preserve
Tanzi Tract sign about invasive species

The main trail runs atop the Hanover sewer system, as you can see by the many sewer covers along the way, obvious even in the snow.


The Conservancy, the Hanover Lions Club, and other volunteers have worked to control invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle, barberry, and Japanese knotweed that had overrun the floodplain, then replanted with 2,000 native trees and shrubs, including silver and red maple, red osier dogwood, and elderberry, selected because they are adapted to changes in water levels and provide wildlife food and cover. (We still saw buckthorn, barberry, and knotweed on our walks, though.)

Pets are allowed so long as they are under voice control and their people pick up their waste (which not everyone does, I noticed). Fishing is also permitted, though trapping, hunting, biking, and camping aren’t.


Herewith, some trees and evidence of trees and shrubs:

bud of mountain maple (Acer spicatum)
Beaked hazelnut catkin (Corylus cornuta)
Cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides) bark
bud of box elder (Acer negundo)
red maple (Acer rubrum) leaf in snow
white oak (Quercus alba) trunk
white oak (Quercus alba) leaves


Musclewood aka blue beech aka American hornbeam tree (Carpinus caroliniana ssp. virginiana) tree trunk

witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) stems with flowers
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers
trees in snow


And perennials, wildflowers:

probably Dame’s Rocket (Hesperides matronalis) seedhead
Burdock (Arctium sp.) burrs by brook

Two of the three kinds of goldenrod galls:

The first shown is the ball gall (aka apple gall), which forms in late spring when the Goldenrod Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis) lays an egg on a goldenrod stem: “After the egg hatches about ten days later, the hungry larva eats its way into the stem and forms a feeding/living chamber. This stimulates the host plant to create the ball gall, which provides more space and a lot more succulent goldenrod cells on which the grub can dine all summer long.” The ball starts out green and shiny like the stem but over time it turns brown and eventually this purple shade. Inside the gall — though not this one, as a downy woodpecker seems to have bored its way in — a small fly larva overwinters by replacing its fluids with glycerol, a sort of larva antifreeze. (source for more info and pics)

ball gall

The second is called a bunch gall (or a flower gall) and occurs only in Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). It’s caused by  a Goldenrod Gall Midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis) that lays its egg in a leaf bud: “After the grub hatches, its presence somehow keeps the stem from growing and elongating, even though the goldenrod continues to produce leaves. This results in a tight, flower-like cluster of foliage, usually at the top of the goldenrod’s main stalk. Although the Goldenrod Gall Midge is the only insect known to cause a bunch gall, the heavily leaved cluster may become home to a diverse assemblage of arthropods, including spiders and other midge species; for this reason, the Goldenrod Gall Midge has been referred to as an ‘ecosystem engineer.'” (source)  There were lots of these on one side of the brook.

Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) flower gall


Finally, ferns, lichen, moss:

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) spore frond
yellow lichen
green moss on a white ash tree (Fraxinus americana)
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) in snow
chartreuse moss and some lichen, on a log in snow


Sometimes, I just like the look of rocks:

colourful orange rock


a little glimpse of wetland through the snow
ice in the brook, with trees and shadows


I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

— last lines of “The Brook Poem,” Alfred Lord Tennyson

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