This Thing Called Courage

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Early Spring Flowers of the Middlesex Fells

THIS MORNING CHRIS AND I had the pleasure of going on a hike led by naturalist Bryan Hamlin entitled, 'Early Spring Wildflowers of the Middlesex Fells,' i.e., Happy Land. There was a nice crowd of about 20 folks and Bryan and his wife, and we met at Gate 8 on South Border Road. It was really enjoyable, informative, and educational. Bryan, a man in his sixties I would estimate, with a very pleasant Cary Grant accent, had all the enthusiasm of a child as he led us through the Lawrence Woods section of the Fells to see his secret flowering spots. We saw (if I'm remembering correctly) Bell Flower, Bear Berry, Canada Mayflower, the three types of wild blueberry (High Bush, Middle Bush, and Low Bush), Skunk Cabbage, Indian Poke (pictured above, no flowers), Wood Anemone (pictured above), Rue Anemone, Cut-leaved Toothwart (the only place it grows east of the Connecticutt River Valley, and Bryan the discoverer of same two years ago!) Jack in the Pulpit, and a few other things. It was wonderful to be in the woods in spring. We also saw a garter snake and heard some bird calls, but our group was so large, most of the fauna heard us a mile away and decamped, or grew silent at our clumping approach. Bryan is leading another hike two weeks from today (on Saturday, May 19) where he'll show off the mid-spring flowers of the Fells, including the Queen of the May here in New England, the Lady Slipper. For more on Bryan and what he's found in the Fells, check out

We met a delightful woman named Sarah on the walk who is very keen to hear and see the American Woodock, as she has been waiting in vain all this spring. Well, she obviously didn't know to whom she was talking! I told her, then we showed her, where the 'Timberdoodle' does his thing (it was right up the way from where the walk began and ended) and she is going up there tonight to see, and hear, what she can see. She has promised to give a report. I also met another woman from the 'Backyard Gardeners' club (you gotta love that name) and she took my email as she would like me to speak to their group about the fine art of creating a watergarden, a speciality of mine in a previous life.

I feel so fortunate to have the Fells right in my own backyard. I had never been to that particular part of Happy Land before-- and will certainly be back.


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