Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I've spent much of the last two weeks walking the trails of the Richmond Nature Park, which contains a hundred-acre remnant of the extensive (Burns Bog-sized) peat bogs that once covered Lulu Island.  Most was mined for the peat, and then converted to blueberry or cranberry farms.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I worked in this park for about 7 years.  After a while I lost my sense of bog-wonder.   The bog became an endless, exhausting  battle against invasive species.  I stopped seeing, or at least appreciating, the small, pretty things all around, such as the foliose lichen above, which, in this dismal weather, glows amid the bare branches. 

The park is one of the last remaining local strongholds, which may be an overstatement, for Douglas' Squirrels, which are dependent on the cones of shore pines, the dominant bog tree. The park is surrounded by suburbs, home of Eastern Grey Squirrels, which are an introduced species and considered pests by most.  People catch them in their attics or wherever and dump them in the park.  It's good to see that the little Dougies haven't been displaced.

The Quaking Trail, through the middle of the park, is probably the least walked, but has some of the best little scenes.  This stark white birch demanded a photo.

Decent Sphagnum hummocks with their associated flora remain, especially in a few spots on this trail, but make up a much smaller percentage of the ground-cover compared to when I was first there.  There are several species, green and red. I would often ask children to touch the Sphagnum, to stick a finger into it.  The consensus was that it felt like a brain.

Cranberries grow in the wet areas.  These beauties have survived foragers, and a fair amount of snow.  It's been a hard winter compared to the average. I believe these are escaped domestic berries, not the native species.

To bookend with lichens:  Stars of the Quaking Trail  were these tangles of reindeer moss, bigger than any I remember seeing,  They are growing among Labrador tea stems, postcards more typical of the Arctic Circle than 49 degrees north. 

The ground is soft and spongy, holding the winter's cold and rainfall.  I almost want to lie down.  I refrain, merely place my hands on the moss. 

It is damp and cold, and feels like a brain. 

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