Walking in the Bush - Discovering Plant Life
Cousin Jamie leads the way
Beyond the corn field and into the bush we trooped, a little band of hikers, following Cousin Jamie. We entered the woods, dark and cool. We sniffed the faint aroma of skunk. No worries. Cousin Jamie lead us straight into that scent to the little trailer where the skunk may or may not have a home. We shivered and felt a little concerned. What if we should happen to wear that scent home?
But we didn't.
We admired the forget-me-nots bobbing in the breeze and growing profusely in the undergrowth and we trooped onward after our leader.
He lead us to a hill, a mound of earth moved there by a ditch digging machine. It was brought there when he was a child and it became a play place. We climbed and followed the trails. We came to the sap boiling cook stove, where sweet Maple Syrup was cooked and then carried home, a sweet treasure from the trunks of the tall Maples around us, the silent watchers of our adventure. This sugaring spot looked ancient and abandoned. But it had been used as recently as last year. Snow, sleet and rain have such a way of aging things. Who can tell the age of things in a wood?
At the bottom of the mound, five jack-in-the-pulpits stood straight, preaching their message, attracting our attention. "Why are they all jack-in-the-pulpits? Shouldn't some be jack-in-the-pews?", my son wondered. Cousin Jamie didn't have an answer. He was leading the way down a rather mucky path and we concentrated on each step so we wouldn't get stuck in the muck.
What the dog saw
The dog saw what we did not. He spied a fawn and off the two ran. No doubt it was a rather frightening experience for the young one, but thankfully, he lived to tell the tale to his mother, who was probably nearby, though we never saw her.
Among the Pitcher Plants
Into a bog we went. Ever watchful not to step into the bottomless sinking mud. A place to come with a friend, a helper in case of emergency. Come only during daylight. A bog would be a frightening place in the dark.
The trees were stunted. The sun shone hot. But the treasures of the bog were worth the effort. Pitcher plants. The provincial flower of Newfoundland, poked their way through the grasses. Cousin Jamie gave an impromptu nature lesson to his intrigued audience. The plant has little hairs pointing downward so that insects who enter cannot find their way out and their shape is such that they fill with water after a rain and the bugs drown and die and the plant digests the insects. What a wonder. And, just to be beautiful, they send out a shoot on which blooms a lovely red, button flower.
We watched our footsteps so as not to step in the bog muck or to crush the carnivorous plants.
The Lady Slippers
After the bog, came more bush. Twigs and sticks stuck in our hair and tugged at our sleeves and clothes, but on we plowed. We saw the remains of a tree fort. Who played here years ago? What adventures did those children have? Did those children see the Lady Slippers that were growing at the root of the tree? Cousin Jamie showed us the plant and asked us not to step there and if we would come back soon we would see the flower too, not just the leaves.
To Wander and Wonder and come home to Discover
Aunt Miriam became an instant hero when she pulled sweet spearmint treats out of her big pockets. All the little hikers thanked her, as did the big hikers. Hurrah for pockets with treats!
We saw coniferous trees and deciduous trees and we wondered which category a tamarack fits into. Further research at home answered that question: A deciduous conifer... of course... that makes perfect sense.
Cousin Jamie lead the way back out of the bush. There was a tarzan vine for a quick swing, a jaw bone of something to look at and wonder, beautiful dark purple columbine growing wild among the buttercups, a gorgeous bouquet for the infrequent visitors to come and exclaim over. We gathered a small bouquet for grandma, since this a place she could no longer visit, but we were careful to leave most of the flowers standing, waving their silent cheer to the deer and the skunk who live nearby and the bird, whose call was beautiful and one we did not recognize. May they enjoy the beauty of their home. I'm sure they breathed a sigh of relief as our troop followed Cousin Jamie back to the house for a cold drink of water.
Hurrah for Cousin Jamie who lead a successful expedition through the bush and bog and home again. Who told us about deer and bogs and plants and tamarack. Who increased our knowledge and whet our appetite for more. Who made a lady slipper sound so beautiful we just want to go back soon. Hurrah for Cousin Jamie who managed to avoid the skunk and we came home muddy, but smelling like ourselves.
Such a successful walk in the woods with Cousin Jamie.