Learning curve

Stanley Lake

Since we drove up the Woods Machine, we felt compelled to play hooky from chores and head for the creeks, ponds, lakes, rivers, and forests of the northland. In this lake we found a fine downed log with a half-dozen turtles aboard, their shells blue-black and shiny in the sun.

Bluebead lily

In the woods we found many of these. I had to look them up: bluebead lily. I have seen the blue fruits/seeds later in the summer, but never associated a flower with them. It’s about time!

Pink ladys slipper

We saw several of these showy orchids, pink lady’s slippers. We also saw a single group of small white lady’s slippers. I don’t remember seeing them before. Did we miss more?

Fringed polygala

I have no recollection of seeing or looking up these distinctive flowers. We saw just one cluster. If I have identified it correctly, it is in the milkwort family (rural folk thought consuming them would up milk production—in humans and cattle), and is Polygala paucifolia, commonly called fringed polygala or gaywings. Neither term is familiar. My guide notes that its bloom “resembles a tiny airplane without a tail;” not sure I would have made that observation….

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