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Archive for the ‘Wild Spaces’ Category

The salt marsh may look calm and peaceful in the pre-dawn light, but there’s always some nasty business afoot that we humans aren’t privy to.  These are good hunting grounds for coyotes, bobcats, weasels and bald eagles.

If the herons saw something last night, they’re keeping it to themselves.

The kingfisher is also mum.  Or is he just more interested in this morning’s breakfast menu?

Surely the crows will talk.  Whether in the woods or the marsh, they can always be depended on to spread the word if there’s a predator lurking in the vicinity.  You can always get the latest buzz from crows.

But not this morning.  If the crows are talking at all, it’s in a whisper for their ears only.  It’s all hush-hush as the sun clears the horizon to announce the new day.  What goes on at night in the marsh stays in the marsh.

It’s just as well.  Today is enough of itself.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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When you walk in the woods, do you see the forest or the trees?  Do your eyes come to rest on the bark of the closest  trunk or is your vision focused on the woods behind it?

Similarly, when you’re walking on the beach, are your eyes scanning the shore for a special shell,  a heart shaped stone or a bottle with a message in it, or are you gazing at the horizon line?

It’s easier to focus on the trees nearby if the path ahead is tangled with vegetation.  The possibility of ticks in the grass or mosquitoes lurking in the deeper woods may prompt you to take a closer look at the soft new growth on the branches  within your grasp.

If the path ahead appears clear and bright, you may be more inclined to venture into the forest.

At home or at work, I often find myself caught up in the details in my surroundings.  My eyes dart quickly back and forth looking to re-arrange or make right whatever seems out of place.  However, when daily life sometimes becomes cluttered, as the beach is with seaweed after a storm…

I lift up my eyes to focus on what’s ahead.  (One of these days I’m sure I’m going to see a mermaid sitting on top of that big stone).

Our ability to shift our focus is a gift that allows us to be happy in any circumstance.  All that’s required from us is a willingness to refocus our attention, perhaps for just a moment, before getting back to the task at hand.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Follow me on a dragon hunt along this bracken bordered path into the bog. Don’t be afraid, but be careful where you put down your feet. The bog is never as it seems.

Moss that appears ankle deep will sometimes make you sink up to your hips in green. Grassy and muddy open areas can be as deceiving and  treacherous as quicksand.

Ancient northern peoples often hid their treasures and their dead in bogs. The bog swallowed them whole, preserving them indefinitely for centuries with its magical mud. Perhaps that’s why the dragons are here…

Known through the ages as protectors of treasure, dragons are part of the lore of many cultures. Sometimes good, sometimes evil, in Medieval England they were symbols of greed.  Back then, conquering a dragon was a metaphor for conquering one’s desires for the material world.

Nobody knows what treasures are protected here by these dragon’s mouth orchids.  One can only imagine. Dare you look down into the mouth of a dragon and ask?

Looking into the mouth of the dragon

Although they have mouths, these dragons aren’t likely to tell us what treasures are buried here. They’ve kept their secrets well hidden for centuries already.  Why tell now?

Mwaahaha…

More information about the dragon’s mouth orchid can be found at John Crabtree’s  Mushrooms and  Wildflowers of Nova Scotia.

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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May is one of the best times to see plants in bloom along the Salt Marsh Trail. The experience is not one to miss. Barely visible from the trail, bog rhododendrons, shown above, look rather exotic for these woods.

wild strawberries in bloom

Simpler wild strawberries are in bloom on the ground.  They seem especially numerous this year.

The soft pink of the flowering apple trees is a special treat for the eyes against the dark green of the woods and a bright blue sky.

Pin cherry trees are barely noticeable at other times of the year but right now their blooms allow them to stand out from surrounding greenery.

Up close, an elderberry bloom looks like an ornate chandelier.

Most ubiquitous of all are the delicate service berry blooms.  Unfortunately, they’re the most susceptible to being blown off their branches by strong winds.

Perhaps it’s this quality about them that makes them seem so fragile and ephemeral.  Like springtime itself, they never seem to be around long enough.

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dawn sunrise march 22 2012
This morning it looked like a hot summer sun was rising on the horizon.  The 25.7 degrees Celsius high yesterday in Halifax broke the previous record by 15 degrees!  (That’s a 59 degree Fahrenheit DIFFERENCE).  In 1979, temperatures here on March 21st reached 10 degrees Celsius.  The average for this time of year is 5 degrees Celsius.  Today’s forecast promises more of the same.

The elderberry trees in the backyard are already showing their buds which is unusual even for them.  They’re the first to flower in springtime.

elderberry leaf buds march 2012
It’s all very strange.  What will happen if we go back to average temperatures later this spring?  I wonder if wildlife is as confused as we are.

still water in cole harbour salt marsh

The waters in the salt marsh looked particularly still this morning.

It was fairly quiet except for the sounds of the songbirds near the woods.  The soft sea breeze was refreshing in the warm sunlight.  It likely won’t be as comfortable walking there later today in the full heat of the midday sun.   It might be a better idea to go to the beach 🙂

 

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porcupine ball

Why would a porcupine go so far out on a limb?  Wouldn’t it be safer closer to the trunk?  Although porcupines are quite good at balancing themselves, many fall to their death by venturing out on limbs.  I’ve seen porcupines on trees in the salt marsh before, but they were always clinging to thicker branches or resting on top of large evergreen boughs.

You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.
~ Will Rogers

porcupine head alb
Rogers’ quotation might apply to porcupines in apple trees, but this porcupine wasn’t on a fruit tree.  Porcupines will eat the inner bark of fir trees in winter when other food is more scarce, but although there are many fir trees in the marsh, this wasn’t one of them.  The porcupine was also hanging out on an island that’s a common roost for bald eagles in the marsh.  Eagles, coyotes and bobcats, all marsh residents, are known to prey on porcupines.   

porcupine on a limb

Why is this porcupine so far out on a limb?

This tree looks like a maple and it does appear as though some of its bark has been chewed.  Perhaps, with its acute sense of smell, the porcupine was lured by the scent of tender leaf buds that might be just beginning to emerge at the tips of the branches.  I can only wonder.

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