Why do I do this to myself? It was so hot and humid today, my glasses were swimming off my nose before I had gone ten yards along the east end of Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail. This early part of the trail moves along an open marsh with no trees shading the path, and the deerflies and mosquitoes didn't mind at all being baked by the sun as they sought my sweat-drenched flesh. But I was on a quest. A wee little orchid called Loesel's Twayblade (Liparis loeselii) should be blooming now along this end of the trail, and I was determined to find it.
Even though I have seen this orchid here many times over the past few years, I am always anxious about finding it once more. By the time it begins to bloom in June, all other trailside plants will be dwarfing it, and since it's a very small, slender, grass-colored plant, it sure isn't easy to spy. This photo of a Royal Fern amid its surrounding greenery can give you an idea of what the habitat looks like:
As I walked along, I did enjoy all the other wildflowers that caught my eye. The flowers of Marsh Bedstraw (Galium palustre) are even tinier than those of the orchid I sought, but being bright-white, they shone like tiny stars from the dark greens along the trail, this native wildflower's weak stems sprawling amid the other plants.
When I reached the spot on the trail where I sensed I must be close to where I had found the Loesel's Twayblade in other years, I was dismayed to discover that the long-established dirt mounds that used to serve as landmarks had been leveled, probably to expedite mowing along the trail. But soon my searching feet found the remnants of a rotting railroad tie, now buried in mosses and grasses, that had also signaled the right site over the years. Pushing aside the grasses and horsetails, I soon spied not only this year's glossy leaves and flower stalk in full bloom, but also a stalk of last year's tan seedpods still in evidence next to this year's plant. (The rust-red color of the stream at this site is probably caused by the presence of iron in the soil along the stream bottom.)