Last Saturday morning I was ready to go to 108 acre Willard Pond in Antrim, NH but frost coated my windshield. While the defroster did its work I took a photo of a cluster of frosty but colorful oak leaves on my lawn.
Before I turned on the defroster I also had to get a few photos of the frost on my windshield.
Finally I was on the road to Willard Pond, and what a colorful road it was. I lived in Antrim years ago but I was too busy with running a gardening business then to enjoy the great riches that surrounded me. A recent post on the Park Explorer Blog reminded me of this place and coming here was almost like going home again. If you’d like to learn more about New Hampshire, especially about its parks and an occasional old forgotten cellar hole, you’d be doing yourself a favor by reading The Park Explorer.
Willard Pond is a wildlife sanctuary under the protection of the Audubon Society and it is unusual because of the loons that nest here. There are also bears, moose and deer living here, as well as many bird species, including bald eagles.
I didn’t see any loons but the rugged, unspoiled beauty that I did see was enough for me. The flaming hillside of beeches and oaks was just amazing.
In this place the hills come right down to the water so there is little flat, level ground to be found but there is a blazed, one person wide trail that I followed. I was glad I wore my hiking boots; this isn’t the place for sneakers.
Boardwalks helped navigate streams.
Huge boulders have broken away from the hillside and tumbled down, almost to the water in some places. Some were easily as big as delivery vans.
Witch hazels blossomed in great profusion all along the trail. I love seeing their ribbon like petals so late in the year and smelling their fresh, clean scent.
Benches are placed here and there for those who’d rather not sit on a boulder or tree stump.
This is one of the views you can see from the bench in the previous photo. The morning sun was just kissing the tops of the trees. Many were already bare.
If you turn 180 degrees you can also see this view from the bench. It’s hard to decide which is more beautiful, but being under these old oaks and beeches certainly made my spirits soar. Thornton Wilder once said “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. “ I was conscious on this day, and felt extremely alive.
I always peek into hollow trees and I was glad I did this time because there was an unexpected surprise waiting.
Little brown mushrooms grew in the leaf litter that had gathered in the hollow of the tree. I take a tip from the mycologists and skip trying to identify little brown mushrooms because there are just too many of them that look alike. They lump them all together and call them LBMs, xo I will too.
There are many streams and rivulets running down the hillsides into the pond and mosses grow all along them. I saw many examples of the beautiful little bordered thyme moss (Mnium marginatum.) A translucent, sometimes reddish border encircles the tapering leaves, which have tiny teeth along their upper margins. Each small rosette of leaves seen here could have easily hidden behind a pea. I love how this moss seems to glow with its own inner light and though I passed it by several times it kept pulling at me, as if wanting to be admired. Finally it was, and very much so. It’s a beautiful little thing.
I’m fairly sure that this burnt looking area on a yellow birch was a chaga fungus (Inonotus obliquus.) It’s certainly not a burl and chaga is the only other thing I can think of that looks like burnt charcoal and grows on birch. This fungus has been used medicinally in Russia, China, Korea and Japan for centuries, and it is said to be packed with vitamins and minerals. Recently it has shown promise in cancer research, reducing the size of tumors. In Siberia it is said to be the secret to long life.
I think that these marks on the cut end of this log were caused by bluestain, which is also called sapstain because of the way it stains the sapwood of logs. If this log were sawn into planks unsightly stains could show on the surface of one or more of them, and this lowers the price of the log. Both deep and surface bluestain can be caused by fungi called Ophiostoma minus and others, which all seem to be collectively called bluestain fungi and which can eventually kill the tree. It is thought that bark beetles and mites help it spread.
I couldn’t stop taking photos of the amazing trees. They were so beautiful and several times they enticed me off the trail for a better view so I could try to show you what being here was really like. Finally I realized that I had lost all sense of time and had no idea what time of day it was. Nothing that I’ve experienced can compare with total immersion in nature but it was Halloween and I had candy to hand out to the little ghosts and hobgoblins that would soon come knocking, so I had to climb back into myself and leave this wonderful place.
I don’t usually feel a need to name photos but when I saw this one I knew it had to be called serenity because more than anything else, that’s what I found here. I hope you’ll find it too.
Go in the direction of where your peace is coming from. ~C. Joybell C.
Thanks for coming by.