You will want to view this as large as your device allows. 🙂 There is a poem:
I met a man out on one of my rambles
today who told me that if I just went
on out past the pond (where I seldom
go), and looked along on the left there,
down into the woods, I would find a
big patch of Lady Slipper Orchids.
“Has to be a hundred of them,” he said.
I took it as your typical Maine exaggeration,
but as I had nothing more pressing to
accomplish than checking on the
progress of early dragon and damselflies
around the pond, I thought, “why not”
and headed out there. It was further out
than I thought, but when I found the place
it was unmistakable. Not a hundred…
more like five hundred, Lady Slippers,
maybe even a thousand (and that is no
Maine exaggeration), though they were hard
to count among the trees and scattered
over a long thin rectangle of open woods,
maybe three hundred by a hundred feet,
as the slope slopes off down to the
brook among the big trees. I have never
seen anything to match it, Lady Slipper
wise. Some of the clumps were a dozen
blossoms or more, and some of the plants
were eighteen inches tall…big healthy
looking flowers, rich rose pink, delicately
veined, even in the half light of a cloudy
day under the canopy of tall maples, pines
and oaks. I took a lot of photos, of clumps
and individual blossoms, and of patches
were I could find a line of sight, but it was
impossible to capture even a little bit
of the impression of so may Lady Slippers,
so tall, so pink, all in such a small piece
of woods. Only on the way back did I
think of video. I could have maybe caught
it better with some pans and zooms over
a few moments as I moved about. Ah well.
The light was not great anyway. Gives me
a reason to go back out there the next
sunny day if we have one soon. I feel a bit
ashamed now of wining about not being
able to get into Rachel Carson for my Lady
Slipper fix…who knew the creator had such
a splendor of Lady Slippers up that sleeve?
And I will be forever grateful to the unknown
man who took the time to tell me to keep
walking and keep looking left and down.
And I did go back for the video, which came out okay, though I am not sure it catches any more of the impression of all those Lady Slippers. 🙂
Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent (video at about 80mm equivalent).
I am generally more specific with the location of my photos (and poems), but I have gone back and edited out all location info in this post and the poem. Not far from this patch there used to be patch growing the shade of a large pine on the edge of the pond, an unusual place to find them growing. This year, sometime in the past week, someone dug out every one of those plants, and left the empty holes. Lady Slippers are listed as a plant of “special concern” in Maine, grow very slowly and should not be dug up for transplant. In addition, they live in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in a very particular type of soil, so chances of successful transplanting are very slim. Please. Leave them be!
Lupine. Kennebunkport, Maine. There is a poem that goes with this.
The lupines caught me by surprise
out Emmon’s way, late as the season
has seemed, and us with still a day
to go in May. The field at the fork
in the road there, where Goose Rocks
meets Guinea, where some years
the lupines make a purple pool under
the old maples and well out into the
hay, was coming into full flower already.
These last few days of 80 degree
weather have really rushed us on
toward June…only a few weeks ago
we saw our first rhodora and now
flag iris and geraniums are blooming
in the ditches and lupine in the fields.
There at the corner, they have moved
the old hay rake out next to the road
right among the lupines. It is is always
there in that field, and this year they
must have figured they would save
the trespass of all the photographers
who waded out and trampled hay
getting to it among the flowers further
out. Nothing like a field of lupines
(unless you see them among a white
birch grove as I did once in Acadia),
and I look forward every year to
catching them in bloom, there, out
Emmon’s way, in early June. If you
are going to caught by surprise, may
it always be something like lupines.
Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent. HDR mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I had begun to think the only Lady Slipper Orchids I would find this spring are the ones out by Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains…which are atypical in that they grow in the open shade of big pine right on the edge of the pond…not in the deep forest where they are normally found. My forest site for Lady Slipper Orchids, at the Rachel Carson Headquarters, where I have photographed them every year for going on 25 years, is closed due to the pandemic this year, so I was stuck. Then I remembered seeing a few along the trial into Alwive Pond, on the Alwive Reserve of the Kennebunk Land Trust several springs ago. I have not been back out there in season since. Land Trust trails are open, though proper social distancing is required. I rode out there yesterday on my eBike and found that there were indeed lots of Lady Slippers, the first before you even get to the parking area, and then in clusters of single plants all along the first mile of the trail, with a few even further in. There was even one large clump with multiple blossoms…the way they grow at Rachel Carson. Lady Slipper Mission accomplished. (There is, of course, a poem to go with this, which you can see at https://day-poems.tumblr.com/post/619357400179277824/528-i-will-admit-i-might-have-gotten-lady-slipper)
There is a poem that goes with this. 🙂
The first Rhodora of the season
most often blooms in a roadside
ditch along Rt. 9, between the
ponds on the right, south of Brown
Street and north of the marsh
at Branch Brook and the Wells
Town Line. It is about the most
prosaic place you could hope
to find the particular pinkish
purple of the herald of May in
the wet woods of Maine (one of
only two native Rhododendrons in
the state) but for those of us,
like me, who are eager for the
flowering season, early Rhodora is
welcome where and however found.
I was gliding along on my eBike, headed somewhere else, when the Rhodora in the ditch unexpectedly caught my eye. I have seen it there before. Rhodora is, as the poem says, one of only two native Rhododendrons (or Azaleas) in Maine, and it is the only Rhododendron that has separated petals, as opposed to trumpet shaped blooms with the petals fused at the bottoms. The other, Clammy Azalea, one is much more rare, found only in deep swamps and isolated areas of the state. I know of some large patches of Rhodora in a few places I can get to even during the shut-down, but they will not bloom for a week or more, if past seasons are any indication. They always bloom first in the warm corridor along the road. Sony Rx10iv at 87mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications, which I also use for macro. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. I like the way the out of focus flowers in the background frame the focused flowers in the foreground. 🙂
It is the season when, deep in the Maple swamps of Southern Maine, the Skunk Cabbage, in all their twisted shapes and outrageous colors, emerge from the leaf litter. This is when Skunk Cabbage is at its most beautiful. This is the flower of the plant. The big green leaves will only appear later. The wikipedia article on Skunk Cabbage is full of all kinds of interesting information. Skunk Cabbage grows downward, with its stem under ground, and only the flower and leaves sticking up at the top of the stem each year. Even stranger, the Skunk Cabbage produces its own heat, 27 to 63 degrees above the ambient temperature, so that the flower can bloom in still frozen ground…in fact it can melt the ice around it. It is mildly poisonous to humans (its heat is generated by cyanide)…you would have to eat more than a little of the fresh leaves to kill you, but your mouth will burn and your throat close with even a few bites…though with the proper preparation it has been used both as food and medicine.
To me, the Skunk Cabbage is one of the first and most welcome sings of spring in southern Maine.
Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms, Wells, Maine. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. HDR mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos…assembled in FrameMagic.
I posted another in this sequence of images the other day. I was delighted to watch this Coral Hairstreak working a Wood Lily on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in Southern Maine. As this panel shows, and I tried to describe in the previous post, the butterfly worked its way across the flower and then back again as I watched. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
Though a single blossom is the norm for Wood Lily plants, a few produce multiple flowers…two is fairly common, three less so, and a plant with four blossoms, like this one, is, in my experience, quite rare. Photographed with the Sony RX10iv on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area off Maguire Road, in Kennebunk, Maine. Top at 600mm equivalent. Bottom at about 85mm. Macro Mode (Scene mode, not focus mode.) Processed in Polarr.
Full disclosure. This is a composite image, an attempt at rudimentary focus stacking. Because of the shallow depth of field working with the RX10iv at 600mm and f4 for this telephoto macro, I could get the anthers and stigma in focus or the spotted surface of the petals in focus, but not both at the same time. Even stopping down for grater depth of field would not have gotten both critically sharp in the same image. So I came back with one of each…one image with the anthers and stigma in focus and one with the petals in focus. After my standard processing in Polarr, being careful to match the two images, I used Pixomatic to combine the two, laying the in focus anthers and stigma from one shot over the in focus petals from the other and then carefully erasing to expose the background image as needed. I am pretty happy with the result. I doubt, if I had not told you, that you would have noticed anything out of the ordinary about the image. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Macro mode (in Scene Modes). And here, just for those who might be interested, are the two shots that I combined. Is that cheating? I will leave that for you to decide.
There are always a few “clusters” of Grass Pink Orchids (when there are Grass Pink Orchids at all), and it is common for one plant to have several blossoms, but this year in the remnant bog at Laudholm Farms the orchids seemed uncommonly clustery and particularly prolific. And who can object to such a display, especially when dealing with a beautiful flower that, due to lack of habit, is becoming rare? Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent (top panel) and 62mm (bottom panel). Macro mode (in the Scene Modes). Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
With a backlog of bog orchids and other wildflowers from Laudholm Farms this week, I was certainly not thinking about Wood Lilies when I took an ebike photoprowl out to the back side of the Kennebunk Plains yesterday. I was thinking of skies and landscapes, but as soon as I turned down the fire road that goes to the back of Day Brook Pond, I found the Plain covered with one of the most impressive displays of Wood Lilies that I have seen. I have never photographed Wood Lilies on that side of the pond…I always find them on either side of Rt. 99 where it crosses the Plains on the other side, so maybe this is a typical display for the area off Maguire Road, and I have just missed it all these years. Lots of lilies and lots of tall lilies, and many clumps of lilies. Checking last year’s photos of Wood Lilies, my first shots are from July 16th, on the other side of the pond, so the timing is right…I was just not expecting to see them yet. Nice surprise. So now I have a lot of Wood Lily images on top of my Grass Pink and Rose Pagonia orchid images from earlier in the week. Such abundance…but that is July in Maine for you! If you are into wildflowers, at least.
On this image of a double blossom, you will see, if you look closely, that there is a tiny Green Metallic Bee in flight above the lower flower. The Green Metallic Bees were all over the Wood Lilies, and I have to suspect that they are a major pollinator, at least out on the Kennebunk Plains.
Sony RX10iv at 326mm equivalent. Macro mode (in Scene Modes). Processed in Polarr.