“To be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring”

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
― Gary Snyder

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Yesterday I spent three hours with a group of people exploring the Lyme Hill Conservation Area in Lyme, NH, a 237.4- acre property with about 4 miles of trails (and adjacent to 183 acres that are privately held, conserved by the same land trust). In our group were a certified wetlands scientist who has evaluated this property and mapped its wetlands, a botanist who helped us identify many plants along the way, and a stewardship assistant from the Upper Valley Land Trust, which owns this property, who talked about management considerations.

JimandAliceinfieldLHCA13May2015

trailtreesskyLHCA13May2015

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The area is unusual in New Hampshire for its Ammonoosuc volcanic boulders, which contain mineral-rich amphibolite. (These were under-sea volcanoes during the Ordovician Period, 430-500 million years ago.)

viewofLymeHillLHCA13May2015

Wetlands are abundant here —

trailsignWetlandLHCA13May2015

— seeps,

wetareaLHCA13May2015

Quite a lot of (invasive) Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass) here
Quite a lot of (invasive) Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass) here

former (and possibly future) beaver ponds,

formerbeaverpondLHCA13May2015

cattailsLHCA13May2015

red-winged blackbird on stump in former beaver pond
red-winged blackbird on stump in former beaver pond

slow-moving and fast-moving brooks —

brookfromaboveLHCA13May2015

and it’s got a rich mesic forest habitat with some unusual plants.

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Among the plants that might grow here  — all of which we saw — are sugar maple (Acer saccharum), basswood (Tilia americana), ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), bellwort or wild oats (Uvularia sp.), plantain-leaved sedge (Carex plantaginea), dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)

DwarfGinsengPanaxTrifoliusinbloomLHCA13May2015

northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum),

maidenhairfernAdiantumPedatumLHCA13May2015

blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides),

BlueCohoshCaulophyllumThalictroidesLHCA13May2015

rattlesnake-fern (Botrychium virginianum),

patchofBotrychiumVirginianumRattlesnakeFerncloseLHCA13May2015

BotrychiumVirginianumRattlesnakeFerncloseLHCA13May2015

wild ginger (Asarum canadense),

anotherAsarumCanadenseWildGingerleavesLHCA13May2015

downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens) … or some yellow violet, anyway,

yellowvioletinbloomLHCA13May2015

mountain sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza chilensis),

MountainSweetCicelyOsmorhizaBerteroiLHCA13May2015
(cicely is the plant with the more carrot-like leaves)

sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba),

AnemoneAcutilobaSharpLobedHepaticaLHCA13May2015

AnemoneAcutilobaSharpLobedHepaticawithmaroonveinsLHCA13May2015

goldthread (Coptis trifolia) in bloom,

ThreeLeavedGoldthreadCoptisTrifoliainbloomLHCA13May2015

miterwort (Mitella diphylla) in bud,

MiterwortMitellaDiphyllaleavesandbudsLHCA13May2015

myriad large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum),

redtrilliumLHCA13May2015

redtrilliumflowercloseLHCA13May2015

and the eastern leatherwood shrub (Dirca palustris).

DircaPalustrisEasternLeatherwoodshrubLHCA13May2015

DircaPalustrisEasternLeatherwoodshrubdetailLHCA13May2015

We also saw eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), alder (Alnus incana, speckled alder, I think), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), a bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), white pine (Pinus strobes), red oak (Quercus rubra), sarsaparilla (Aralia sp.), and many others.

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“Show me a healthy community with a healthy economy and I will show you a community that has its green infrastructure in order and understands the relationship between the built and the unbuilt environment. ”
― Will Rogers, Trust for Public Land

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It was hard to find a place to plant one’s feet, with so much of interest growing underneath. Ferns are plentiful; not only the maidenhair, as noted above, but Christmas (Polystichum acrostichoides), wood ferns (Dryopteris spp.), ostrich (Matteuccia struthiopteris), sensitive (Onoclea sensibilis), and either a silvery glade fern (Diplazium acrostichoides) or a narrow-leaved glade fern (Diplazium pycnocarpon), both fairly rare in our area, I believe.

DepariaAcrostichoidesSilveryGladeFernLHCA13May2015

DepariaAcrostichoidesSilveryGladeFerncloseLHCA13May2015

We also saw American walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum), a first for me.

AspleniumRhizophyllumAmericanWalkingFernonmossyrockLHCA13May2015

AspleniumRhizophyllumAmericanWalkingFernonmossyrockcloserLHCA13May2015

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To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” ― John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

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As we were first standing in a wet meadow, a mouse (deer mouse? field mouse?) with a very long tail rushed by me and then stopped, frozen, under grasses, doing its best to hide from us.

deermousePeromyscusManiculatusingrassLHCA13May2015

Later, by the beaver meadow, I saw this little bird’s nest sitting low in a shrub, exposed.

littlebirdsnestinshrubLHCA13May2015

Having learned about and experimented with swales as part of my permaculture study, it was good to see how water bars, used for erosion control and to keep water off a trail, look and work. They’re different tools: Water bars divert water, while swales — a ditch-mound combo — hold water; but to build either you need to understand contours. I imagine my dad built a lot of water bars in his trail maintaining days.

trailwithwaterbarLHCA13May2015

All in all, an educational, fun time with a great group in a bewitching spot.

ourgroupwalkingbacktoparkinglotLHCA13May2015

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In the name of the bee
And of the butterfly
And of the breeze, amen!
― Emily Dickinson

 

2 Comments on ““To be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring”

  1. Sorry, Merry, this walk (and some others) was as a member of an Osher class (Dartmouth College’s adult ed program). I believe the same class is being offered this spring. You might also contact the Hanover Conservation Commission for any activities they plan, and check out the Upper Valley listserv for many area activities, including walks.

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