Thursday, May 31, 2012

Perfect Day on a Perfect Pond

Today was sunny but cool, with just a slight breeze:  a perfect day for a paddle.  And oh, did I have the perfect pond to paddle on!  I wish I could tell you where it was, but I'm sworn to secrecy by my friend Evelyn, who introduced me to this pond two years ago at just this time of year, when the rare and beautiful orchid, Arethusa bulbosa, comes into bloom.  It has become a place of pilgrimage for me ever since.  I can never pass up a chance to lay eyes on this vivid magenta orchid, one that is threatened in New York State, and either threatened, endangered, or outright extirpated in most surrounding states.

But here on this pond, with its floating and grounded bog mats, we saw Arethusa everywhere!

Of course, there were other attractions, as well, including Pitcher Plants of the brightest red I had ever seen.

At one point we pulled our canoes up onto the bogmat and walked about on the spongey sphagnum moss, sinking up to our ankles in seeping cold water.

The Bog Buckbean was long past blooming, but the soft green leaves made a lovely backdrop for the vivid  Pitcher Plant blooms.

Blue Flag bloomed at the edges of the mat.

Tufted Loosestrife had found a tiny island to bloom on in the middle of a channel.

 Is there any flower so perfect in its loveliness as a White Water Lily?  I learned today that the reason we never see withered or browning Water Lilies is that, as soon as the flower is fertilized, it closes up tight and its stem retracts to pull it down to the bottom, where its seed ripens in the mud.

A final gift of beauty today was this pretty butterfly.  I think it's a Fritillary, but smaller than the Great Spangled Fritillaries  I usually see. Does it seem that many species of butterflies are smaller this year?


A.L. Gibson said...

Absolute perfection, Jackie. I just saw the Arethusa in a southern Michigan bog a couple weekends ago for the first time in my life after years of waiting and bad luck. Oh how I wish I could seem them at this pond in good numbers and on that amazing floating bog mat.

catharus said...

Perfection indeed!

Ellen Rathbone said...

YES! Runty butterflies are EVERYWHERE! I picked up a painted lady (dead in the road) that was nearly half it's normal size, and a black swallowtail that was nearly 1/3 the normal size. The red admirals were all very small as well. We have been speculating if the long chilly spring had something to do with this...they all headed northward earlier than normal with the abnormally warm weather in March, then got nailed with the cold weather of April and May. I see it's not limited to just here.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, A.L. I am very lucky to have good friends to show me such secret places. If you're ever in upstate NY the last week of May, we'll take you there.

Thanks, catharus. We were lucky to have such a lovely day. Two days later, a cold rain is pouring down and the orchids will bloom no more.

Hi Ellen, thanks for weighing in on the stunted butterfly question. I'm thinking the cause for their small size must have occurred in the caterpillar or the chrysalis, since the butterflies emerge full-sized, don't they, and don't go through any instars after that?

hikeagiant2 said...

very lovely!

hikeagiant2 said...

Hi - I've been re-reading your posts in the hopes of catching up after our trip to England ... Earlier today, I stumbled upon this post from Canada and thought you might like to see a whimsical post about 'dragon mouth orchids' - the arethusa. Cheers