Posts Tagged ‘Diapensia’

Let’s Care For the Land that Gives Us Our Health

July 13, 2017

A June hike to the high peaks of New Hampshire guarantees a generous welcome of wildflowers. They have a brief blooming period before the plants begin forming berries. Our wet spring inspired an awesome array of blossoms.

This is a big year for Jack-in-the-Pulpits. Right now, Jack stands in his purple robe on the raised pulpit under a canopy like those found in old churches. Later in summer, Jack transforms to green berries and by fall the berries ripen to reddish/orange, holding next year’s seeds.

This is also a great year for Bunchberries, the plant with Dogwood family’s four little white petals, each pinched on the outer rim. By fall, bunches of red berries will appear bearing next year’s seeds.

Probably one of the reasons many of us find a woods walk or mountain trek so satisfying has to do with our just being another forest roamer checking out what happens in the forest, not just thinking about whatever we’ve done poorly, not about aches and pains, just about the wonder of all the beings in the forest, all the different trees with varied shapes and needles and leaves, and they all get along in their shared space, and remind us that we are part of the forest family.

It feels good to recognize and greet the trees, plants, mosses, ferns, the birds with their magical songs. Sometimes the birds even join us, out of curiosity, I suppose. A little Red-eyed Vireo hopped along the trail beside me one morning for several paces, enjoying the day together. The Vireo pecked around for vittles. I picked up stray branches we humans could stumble on and fling them away, a simple act of trail maintenance inspired by AMC leaders many years ago. It’s a way of saying, “Thanks!” to the forest and all the trail crews who do the big stuff.

Further up, near running water, Sphagnum moss mop-heads present themselves- all soggy and ready to go- keeping air moist, fresh, and breathable. Rocky trails, bounded by younger trees in all the right places offer a reliable assist over slippery rocks.

Finally the trail opens above treeline. Even with wind, it is a balm to be there, excited about the reliable assembly of rocks, and krumholz,  and finally,  mounds of Diapensia, Bearberry, Labrador tea, and any other regulars who have dropped in.

Ah…, New Hampshire…, how good to be here! Now to honor our forest by assuring whatever protection it needs so that we all share the possibility of good health in every day ahead.



Here’s to Franconia Ridge and No Waste!

June 16, 2012

On Friday, I parked at Lafayette Place in Franconia Notch and started hiking up Falling Waters Trail. I passed three types of granite: white, pink, and gray, depending on what combination of feldspar and quartz variations it held.  Falling waters made the colors more vivid, especially the pink granite.

 I was suddenly living in that world McDonough and Braungart wrote about in their book, Cradle-to-Cradle. Their theory is that “in order for humans to prosper, we will have to learn to imitate nature’s highly effective cradle-to-cradle system of nutrient flow and metabolism, in which the very concept of waste does not exist.”  The idea is for us to figure out how to live like a tree that completes its life cycle by providing rich soil for new life.

 Perhaps what draws so many of us to hike in the mountains is that they are a place where the world looks fresh and waste does not exist – a positive boon today.

 When I began hiking in the Whites, there was plenty of trash on the trails and behind every lean-to. As far back as 30 years ago, as AMC members, we all carried, and filled, a small trash bag to carry out on every hike. Eventually, “leave no trace” and “carry out what you carry in” slogans became a way of life on the trails. Today, whatever rare trash I find usually fits into a pocket.  Hiking is truly a way to experience the good life!

 My plan was to check out the Diapensia on Haystack Mountain and return the way I came. Due to an early spring, the little white 5 petal ground huggers had already left without a blooming trace. But, the sky was so clear we could see mountain ranges around us forever. Maybe there would be a few diapensia blooming higher up if I went over the ridge and down the Bridle Path.

 The ridge is a leisurely trail running from Haystack, gaining elevation as it rolls north over Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette. Near Lincoln, I found a few Diapensia stems and spent blossoms and sure enough, just before Lafayette, a small community of sweet blossoms greeted me! Because Diapensia only grows in high mountain areas where they are exposed to all the extremes of weather, people come here from all over the world to see them in June usually. The amazing thing about them is that they can withstand hail, sleet, ice, wind; yet, one carelessly planted heel can wipe out a little patch that took 30 years to grow! 

There were lots of people on the ridge, including a well chaperoned group of 42 school kids from Quebec and 15 UNH hikers continuing on the Appalachian Trail to Galehead, but at no time did I feel crowded. There was plenty of room for everyone. At the summit, I remembered the day my granddaughter and I joined this raven for a long pause  to inhale the spectacular view east, including Mt.Washington.

Hiking out the Bridal Path from Lafayette, I passed the place that was once an open rock area with a circle of sitting logs where I celebrated finishing the 48 4000 footers with friends 29 years ago. The logs have completed their cycle and are part of the duff that inspired a robust stand of spruce to now claim that space.

And my mind raced to what would happen if I didn’t bring anything home that would end up in the wastebasket when no longer useful? There’d be no need for a landfill. What if everything I used could eventually be recycled or laid on the compost so there was no waste, like a tree, that lies down to enrich the ground for generations to come.