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Posts Tagged ‘Robin Hood Park’

Robin Hood Park is a 110-acre park located in the northeastern corner of Keene that I visit often at all times of year, but especially in summer to see all of the amazing fungi and slime molds that grow there. In 1889 George A. Wheelock sold a piece of land known as the Children’s Wood to the City of Keene for a total of one dollar. This area was eventually combined with an additional parcel of land purchased from Wheelock, known as Robin Hood Forest, to form Robin Hood Park. This park has been enjoyed by children of all ages ever since. I decided to go there last Saturday because I couldn’t remember the last time I had been there.

The small pond in the park has drawn ice skaters for a very long time, but this year the unusual warmth has kept people off the ice. This is where I learned how to ice skate 50+ years ago.

There are various small streams and rivulets that feed into the pond. Even though it was only 22 degrees F. on this day none of them had frozen over but they were trying, as this one shows.

There were lots of bubbles in what ice there was.

The spot where the little stream enters the pond showed just how thin the ice was.

But still, even with all the warnings both natural and man-made, someone had shoveled off a large rectangle to skate in. We humans can be very stupid at times. Note how wet the snow is where the water is coming up through the crack in the ice.

I got away from the pond and followed the trail that leads around it. There are many interesting things along this trail and I see things I’ve never seen almost every time I come.

Unfortunately there was nothing new about the thick ice on parts of the trail. There is a lot of groundwater here and ice like this is common in winter so I wore my new micro spikes. With them on I walked right over this ice and didn’t slip or slide one bit. It’s amazing how they grip; you feel like you couldn’t slip if you wanted to.

One of the things I saw on this day that I’ve never seen before is a liverwort called the Bifid crestwort (Lophocolea bidentata.) It grew on a log and at first I thought it was a moss.

But I’ve never seen a moss that looked like this and I suspected right off that it must be some type of liverwort. It is a leafy liverwort and each leaf is flattened with two notches at its tip (Bilobed.) Each lobe is drawn out to a long, narrow point. As you move up the stem the leading edge of each leaf is tucked behind the trailing edge of the leaf ahead of it. Both of these features help with identification as does the pale yellow green color. What I didn’t know at the time I saw it is that the plant is very aromatic, so the next time I see it I’ll have to smell it.

There was no question that this was a moss. Broom moss (Dicranum scoparium) gets its name from the way its curly tipped leaves look like they have all been swept to one side. In fact the scoparium part of the scientific name is Latin for broom. It prefers dry shaded places and won’t tolerate wet feet. Florists call it mood moss but I’m not sure why.

Mosses can change color in the cold and so can lichens. In the summer the blue gray lichens on this stone will become ashen gray and all but disappear into the color of the stone. It’s something I’ve noticed happening for years but I’ve never been able to identify the chameleon like lichen.

This buttressed tree root reminded me of a beautiful yellow slime mold I saw here one day a few years ago. Buttressed tree roots usually grow on all sides of the tree but this huge old oak has just the one. Roots that grow like this are said to grow because of nutrient poor, shallow soil but if that were true then it seems like all of the trees in this forest would have them. They are usually found in rain forests on very tall trees.

Something I’ve never been able to explain is the zig zag scar on this tree. I’ve shown it here before and blog readers have kicked around several ideas including lightning, but none seem to really fit.

The scar is deep and starts about 5 feet up the trunk from the soil line. If it were a lightning scar I would think that it would travel from the top of the tree into the soil. I happened upon a large white pine tree once that had been hit by lightning very recently and it had a perfectly straight scar from its top, down a root, and into the soil. The bark had been blown off all the way along it.

I’ve seen some strange things in the woods and this is one of them. Someone put a chain around this tree for no apparent reason. What will happen is the tree will grow around it and over time simply absorb it. It will become a tree cutters nightmare; one of those thing you hope you never run into with a chainsaw.

This granite stone has a spear of either quartz or feldspar in it. I think, if I remember my geology correctly, that it would be called an intrusion or vein. Granite itself is considered an intrusive igneous rock.

Turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) are common enough but you don’t often find them growing on a standing tree as these were. There were many hundreds of them all around the tree.

Some of the turkey tails were quite colorful with lots of orange and lavender bands.

Other turkey tails on the same tree were much less colorful and this is interesting. For years I’ve tried to find out what determines the color of these fungi and I assumed it must be the wood itself, but these examples with widely varying colors were all growing on the same wood, so that can’t be it. These are in fact wood eaters which decompose wood so it can be returned to the forest soil to be used again by a new generation of trees. Life is a circle and not a single molecule is lost or wasted.

When I was a boy I found a book in the attic called “Nibbles and Bobtail.” It was all about animals of the forest acting like people, and their escapades. The animals lived in stone houses with thatched roofs and had fields bordered by stone walls. I was in my drawing phase then and I was interested in illustration, but this book bothered me because everything made of stone was colored. There were red stones, blue stones, orange, yellow, purple stones, etc. I thought well, it’s obvious this person has never seen a stone wall; everyone knows they’re gray. But it was I who didn’t know what I was talking about because instead of seeing I was just looking, and it took several years for me to finally see that stone walls could indeed be very colorful, as this one shows. Not only are the stones colorful but the lichens on them are as well. The orange in this photo is caused by the sidewalk firedot lichen (Caloplaca feracissima.)

By walking in a snowy forest you can really forget about this world, and every time you forget about this world you leave this world, and every time you leave this world you gain a very special wisdom that does not exist in this world. ~Mehmet Murat ildan

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1. Monadnock

When I’m out looking for plants I’ve never seen I often take photos of the places I visit, and most of those never appear here. I don’t consider myself a very good landscape photographer, but for a change of pace I thought I’d show some of the local scenery that I see in my travels. This photo is of Mount Monadnock from Perkins Pond in Troy, New Hampshire. I went there thinking I could get a good shot of a yellow water lily and found that there were so many of them that you couldn’t hardly see the water surface in places.

 2. Open Space

When you live in a 4.8 million acre forest big, open spaces are rare, so I always take a few shots of those that I find. I took this photo more for the clouds than anything else. They were so low that it felt as if I might touch them if I jumped high enough.

 3. Woodland Path

This is one of many woodland trails I visit. On most days I’m more likely to be found in a place like this than anywhere else. This particular piece of forest has soil that has been undisturbed for a very long time and plants like striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate) and downy rattlesnake plantain orchid (Goodyera pubescens) grow here.

4. Ashuelot Beach

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I also spend time on the banks of the Ashuelot River, where I find a lot of different wildflowers. Last winter this entire area was completely covered by a thick sheet of ice and it amazes me how the plants that live here can survive it.

5. Pond View

This small pond is another spot that I visit often. It’s in a place called Robin Hood Park in Keene, which I keep telling myself I’m going to do a post about but never do. There is a path that goes around the entire pond and the huge old white pine and eastern hemlock trees keep it very shaded and moist, so many different mushrooms and slime molds grow here. When the warm muggies arrive in summer this is the first place I go to look for all of the things that grow in low light.

 6. Hunting Shack

I don’t usually take many photos of man-made objects but this old hunting shack had a for sale sign so I thought I’d stop and take a look. It needs a little work but it can probably be had for a song.

7. Old Wheel

This old wheel had been leaning against the wall of the shack for a while. It was a white rubber tire on a steel rim with wooden spokes. I’ve never seen one like it.

8. Stone Steps

One day I came upon these stone steps out in the middle of nowhere and walked up them, thinking I’d find an old cellar hole at the top, but there was nothing there. They were just stairs that led to nothing, not even a path.

9. Pond Relections

This photo is of reflections, because the water was as still as a sheet of glass.

 10. Roadside Meadow

One of the things I love about New Hampshire in the summertime is how quickly the road sides can become beautiful meadows. Sometimes you can drive along a road and not see any flowers and then just a day or two later they’re everywhere. It’s hard to have a pessimistic view of life while surrounded by beauty like this.

 11. Black Locust leaves

Looking up through the branches of a black locust tree. I’ve always liked the dappled sunlight that is found under locust trees.

12. Kayak

Here’s a shot of the kayak that I bought at a moving sale last fall. This shot was taken just before I took it out on our maiden voyage recently. It was and is a lot of fun, but I’ve got to get used to it. I bought it because there is a pond I know of where rose pogonia orchids, pitcher plants and sundews grow but the only way to see them is in a boat. That will happen next year, after I have my sea legs under me. Right now being alone in a kayak out on a pond that is miles from nowhere doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

13. Island

The kayak took me to this island in another local pond. Most of the bushes growing on its shores are high bush blueberries, but they weren’t ripe yet. This pond has people living all around it so if anyone has a boating accident help is within earshot.

 14. Swamp at Sunset

This is a local swamp I visit sometimes to watch the sun set. Sunsets can be really spectacular here but on this evening it was too cloudy.

15. Cloudscape

I thought I saw the head of a lion come roaring out of the leading edge of these clouds one evening.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time. ~John Lubbock

Thanks for coming by.

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