The day of my epic face-plant yielded another present that I would have definitely missed had I gone home. All three of you that read this thing know that I had (have) a mini-project (obsession) going with Indian pipe flowers. I don’t know what it is about these luminous beauties, but I am so drawn to them. So when I was walking by the Piscataquog I found the biggest, most densely-populated swath of them I’ve ever seen. Seriously. There were so many little groups it was like a game of twister for me to not step on any while crouching under hemlock branches trying for microscapes. It was worth it though because not only was the light lickable, but the flowers were almost all pink! Pink! I don’t think in all of the time I’ve been photographing these have I seen really pink ones. So great.
So is the title Nancy Drew-ish or Sherlock Holmsian? Either way, it was an incident to be sure. I decided to head up to Loverens Mill Cedar Swamp Preserve on Tuesday. I was after some solitude and afternoon light. Little did I know that they were logging the surrounding forest. But, being the trooper that I am I went past the gouged up road that had to be carved through the woods and eventually got to the trail proper. It wasn’t exactly peaceful though. I couldn’t hear chainsaws so I think that part of the excision was over, but the big transporter rig was moving through and was startlingly close. Basically it’s a huge truck with a claw that picks up the dead trees and hauls them to the pick up area where the road trucks will use similar claws to load them and then take them to a mill somewhere. Funny that the lumber mill the site is named for is no longer in operation; they could have just left them stacked where they were if it was.
Anyway, after a while of trying to get into the groove in the swamp itself, I decided to call it quits. Between the constant auditory barrage of the truck and the fact that the boardwalk was damaged, spongy and underwater partway along, I didn’t have a lot of peace or exploration opportunities. I considered doing the loop that goes down by the river, but was just too disappointed by the disruption of the logging. I couldn’t have had worse timing though and when I got back to the area where the trees were stacked, the guy with the hauler was there unloading. I didn’t want to risk a tree slipping and crushing me, so I stayed safely out of the guy’s work area for a time while he did his thing. Danger is not my middle name. Neither is stupidity.
Clumsy apparently is though because when he moved the truck to another section of the pile, I decided to run for it. If the terrain had been better I think I would have been ok, but it was loose soil topped with huge rocks to form a rudimentary road bed. Unstable as hell. I was halfway down when a rock seemed to buck me off and I went down hard. My elbow caught the brunt of the impact, but I also got nailed with a poiny rock just in front of my left kidney. By this time the guy in the truck saw me and made as if to get out, but I sprang up, grabbed the stuff that I dropped and gave him a wave, feeling utterly humiliated as I limped off back to my car.
A survey of the damage revealed that the iPod and the camera were ok and still functioning. The lens cap popped off the 12-60mm, but no other damage was visible. I fired off a shot or two and sighed with relief. Another big sigh when the iPod still played and that my Bose earbuds were still in one piece. But was I? I bent to unlace my boots and wondered what that red spatter was. Blood apparently. My blood. From my gashed up elbow. Nice. And there were some abrasions and what would turn out to be spectacular bruises, especially the one on my side. The damage seems to be superficial though; no blood in my urine (oh TMI right?) I guess love handles are useful for something.
So after changing into sandals, getting my breath back and making sure my gear and I were ok, I headed out. An hour later I arrived in New Boston and felt pretty good despite some wicked stinging in my elbow. I decided to stop and have a stroll by the Piscataquog. Now, I’m going to go off message here for a bit and relate something that amazed me. Yeah, yeah, pictures are coming, hang on a sec. See, I’ve switched to an ancestral diet as of June 2. Often called paleo, my specific eating outline is primal which includes dairy and wine. Basically I’ve eliminated grain and processed food from my diet. The upshot is that the day of The Incident at the Cedar Swamp I still felt great after a few hours in the woods and the fall. Great enough to continue on to another preserve and walk some more. I know for a FACT that I would have given up and gone home a month ago. I’d done it before. Mostly it’s the intense carb cycle of sugar high and the eventual crash and that now I don’t subject my body to that anymore. Now I have a constant energy stream that keeps my mental, emotional and physical systems running more optimally. I didn’t feel drained, depleted, tired or exhausted in any way. After a handful of pistachios around 3:30, I stayed out for another 2 hours. Unheard of in me pre-primal life.
Ok. Now you get pics. Thanks for reading so far. I’m usually no so wordy, huh?
Here’s one shot I would have missed if I’d called it quits and not walked by the Piscataquog. The light was nice and the wind was calm so it just took some effort managing the background for this one. I wonder how many other things I missed because of my carb-crashes.
Elusive in the sense that they require a specific and rare habitat, not that I don’t have them nearby or that they are scarce in that location. I’m lucky. I live near a kettle bog (two actually, but one has more trail, luckily the closer one). A kettle bog, named for the shape of the depression in the earth it takes up, is generally very old (Ponemah bog is about 12,000 years old), was created during an ice age, has no incoming supply of water other than from rain and also has no outlet for that water other than evaporation. Over time it will shrink and shrink until there’s nothing left. Until then though, there are tons of relatively exclusive plants that you can find an enjoy in a bog. Too bad the word bog isn’t is pretty as one actually is. Typically a bog is not a nutrient rich environment, so the kinds of plants that live in one are adapted to this low-cal diet. Most of the flowers are pink and one of the showiest is grass pink, a type of orchid. Pardon the all portrait orientation – the landscape shots just didn’t work.
Because the path is a wooden walkway that is sunk deep into the vegetation and water of the bog itself, it’s not possible to step off the path without getting very wet. Plus stepping off will damage fragile plants and animals so even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t. Being stuck on the walkway though limits the photographic possibilities somewhat. And often times I couldn’t do the amount of scene-clean I wanted to do in order to eliminate distracting elements. But that’s the beauty of things sometimes; nature is messy.
All of these were shot on a tripod using the OM 90mm macro. Apertures were between 5.6 and 8. I did a little tweaking in Lightroom, but not much – mostly for color correction since dawn light seems to be tough for a digital sensor. Luckily the wind was very calm and the lighting was totally lickable. The dew was pure luck though. I forgot that it was rather chilly last night and there was even fog over the pond itself. I only had eyes for these beauties though and even tried one with the newly-risen sun straight on. The blossoms themselves are only about an inch at their widest and I’m glad I caught them at the beginning of their bloom cycle so that there aren’t old flowers hanging on the stalks.
It’s a tiny bit bright, but that’s how it was; bright, clear and fresh, with birds singing. Something right out of a Disney movie (but without talking rodents).
After a colorless winter and a dive straight into spring with all its rainbow colors, I sometimes come off a color binge and process a series of monochrome images. Usually I try for something with lots of interesting texture and a definitive structure and these leaves are perfect. I have no idea what they are, but I like them and the water still clinging after the rain is what makes the images really work. At least to me. All shot w/the OM 90mm macro at varying apertures.
And if you can figure out where the titles come from and why I used them now (without Googling) you get bonus points!
Ah Monty Python, what a bunch of mad freaks you were. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check this out – Part 2. You really have to like MP to find it funny, but I always think of it when anyone mentions lupines. And the other day when I shot some, I hummed the song. Luckily half the words are humming anyway. ; )
I think some lupines around here are more blue, but the ones in the ‘vacant lot’ that had to be created for the new highway access are very, very purple indeed. I had to do a little white balance correction in post, but I didn’t touch any color or saturation sliders. Shooting flowers after rain while the sky is still overcast really produces images with punch!
I didn’t notice the slug in that one until post and thought it was kind of funny. It’s too bad about the fence in the bg, I opened up as much as I thought I could and still keep most of the closest flowers in focus, but it still bugs me. Being land that will probably get developed into some awful commercial enterprise someday, it’s all fenced off and posted. Oh well, it didn’t stop me getting up close.
Aren’t those fuzzy, little seed-pods the best? I got a couple of funny looks from some strolling ladies, but I’m used to that.
The area was also planted with daisys, what I think is a type of coreopsis, red clover, toadflax and has a pond and culvert full of cattails and frogs. There’s a paved path that basically leads nowhere in one direction and over the new bridge in the other. One of these days I’ll go over the bridge and see what’s there, but the other day it was all about the flowers. I couldn’t get one of those iconic landscapes of sweeping hills and trees, but I like the intimacy and the vibrancy of what I did get. Really though, I’m not really tempted since everyone goes to Sugar Hill for the lupine festival and it gets ugly as people compete to take the same photo over and over). Where’s the fun in that? Give me a vacant lot by the highway any day.