Nature Strollers

The mission of the Nature Strollers is to support parents and grandparents in their role as primary interpreters of nature for their families; to provide opportunities for families to enjoy unstructured time outdoors; to familiarize families with local trails, refuges, sanctuaries and preserves; and to develop networks among families with a common interest in nature.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fuller Mountain Brook

We subscribe to the immersion method of nature study here at Nature Strollers. Rule number one: never visit a stream without getting your feet wet! Fuller Mountain Brook was running fast and clear this Saturday afternoon, its babble pleasant accompanyment to our stroll. Five families joined us on this pre-mother's day hike to take in the native flora of this relatively untouched river corredor. I particularly love this land trust preserve because of its relatively unknown status. The trail is fading, one must step carefully for all the wildflowers coming up in the middle of it, so few feet trod its length. It is a hidden gem.

The promethea moths must find it satisfactory as well. This cocoon, spun from silk and a spicebush leaf, is extremely well camouflaged. It sure kept its secret from the strollers who were looking hard to spot something "different" on this spicebush tree. Eventually, I had to give it up. The children admired its clever design and felt its weight. The pupa is still inside.
The streambanks are lined with ferns and skunk cabbage. The colors still springlike in their cool intensity. It is an invitation to follow the twists and turns of the riverbend deeper into the forest.
Exquisite Jack-in-the-pulpit were flowering in profusion. The flowers can be male or female depending on the amount of energy stored by the corm (similar to a bulb).

I don't think this is exactly what I was talking about when I said we should get kids back into the woods! But the virtually impenetrable tangle of fallen tree branches made for an all natural (and inexpensive) jungle gym.

Along the streamside, the corregated leaves of the hellebore lend a striking glossy green to the foliage of the preserve. These have not flowered yet. I am told the blooms resemble orchids.

Renew all hope, ye who enter here!
The grapevine arch acts as a portal to the marshy wetland.

I guess it's water strider mating season. Shhhhhhhh...

Fuller Mountain Brook is known for its beautiful violets. Most of these lovely five petalled flowers go unpollinated, but that is okay. The violet has small flowers at the base that never open and self-fertilize. The seeds of the violet are transported to fertile sites by ants.

Dwarf ginsing--not the kind sold in health food stores--makes a lovely floral accent to this mossy tree root. This is a wildflower I seldom see elsewhere. Whether on account of its habitat being relatively undisturbed for two hundred years or its particular preferences for soil types or moisture regimes, I do not know.

The pileated woodpecker Polly heard early on in our walk has been hard at work looking for insects under the bark of this dead tree. Our walk included many such finds including frogs, red velvet mites, and a flat millipede. A leisurely pace and lovely surroundings made for a wonderful success, I hope all the mothers that followed our lead were pleased and found renewed strength and refreshment from this outing.


Post a Comment

<< Home