Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Alarm Clock

While normally a moderately early riser, I certainly don't need an alarm clock to be up shortly after dawn these days; we're having our kitchen and dining room shelled out and remodeled, with walls coming down and floor tile smashed up with a sledge hammer. Therefore, it was off to Big Grove Nature Reserve for some peace and quiet and to do some ripping out of my own... in this case to remove multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, bush honeysuckle, and autumn olive from the woods.
It was 90 degrees today, with high humidity, so it was stiflingly hot working my way through dense trees and brush in my thick clothing that partially protects me from the rose thorns, lopping off multiflora rose that grew in large tangles, up to seven feet high. As I worked my way down the steep ridge, I was soon dripping with sweat, and the brush was rife with spider webs this time of year, which I kept running into since I was looking down all the time. The webs would break across my face with an audible pop, leaving me spitting out pieces of web and the odd dead bug. I had to be careful in trying to brush the webs off my face not to touch my face with my gloves, which were liberally coated by this time with poison ivy sap. By the time I reached the south end of the ridge I was practically steaming, soaked and covered with sticky webbing... a discouraging proposition. However, the trees now thinned out, and an enjoyable breeze came up the valley. I took off my gloves, and in looking down the steep slope, noticed dozens and dozens of tiny stalks of coralroot orchids blooming. This tiny plant (Corallorhiza odontorhiza) is one of the saprophytic orchids, its flowers no larger than a grain of rice, but each one a little jewel.
Knowing that we're helping to preserve things like the coralroot orchid lifted my spirits, and I hiked over to the next ridge and worked my way north. Back at the truck, while changing into dry clothing, an indigo bunting sat on a limb nearby and enthusiastically serenaded me with his buzzy call of fire-fire, where-where, here-here, see-it, see-it ... it was a great day.
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