Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July on Nippenicket Pond

For years we followed a tradition of celebrating the Fourth and my youngest son's birthday at the same time with a cookout and family gathering.  But the family is changing, not everyone is as mobile as they were, and anyway we will be gathering tomorrow for our Sunday meal.  At loose ends, I decided to load the kayaks on the minivan and take the boys out on Nippenicket Pond* for the first time this season. 

The boys are old enough to paddle alone, so once we were all afloat, we went our separate ways: the boys to explore, I to be continually distracted by wildflowers and birds.

I'm calling this a bullrush (a broad, elastic term), but can't yet say exactly what it is.
You can see the white, curly stigmas projecting, ready to receive pollen.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is a pretty plant common to ponds.

 Three-square (Scirpus americana) is fairly distinctive in having three-sided
stems with the flower cluster projecting from the side of the stem.

Yellow loosestrife or swamp candles
(Lysimachia terrestris) forms large colonies.

I drifted awhile in this tiny cove.

A colony of pickerelweed.

 This pretty little flower is unknown to me,
and I haven't succeeded in keying it out yet.


White waterlily (Nymphea oderata) is common in ponds,
but not the less pretty or sweet-smelling.

 This great blue heron may be the same one that approached a woman who was fishing.  
"I'd caught a sunfish," she told me, "so I tossed it in her direction, and she
took it and flew away."  When I came upon the woman, she stood on shore 
with a tablet in her hands; I thought she had found a nice place to read, 
but really she was uploading video of the heron.

The pond has a couple of islands big enough and high enough to walk around on.  I went ashore on the smaller of the two when I saw flowers I couldn't reach from the boat.  I walked around a bit.  Then I saw the boys, and we stayed close after that, as I delightedly chased a pair of kingfishers that were apparently nesting on the island.  These were my first kingfishers!  (I try to make up in enthusiasm for birds what I lack in experience.)

On the little island.

I had never seen the spore-bearing fronds of royal fern (Osmunda regalis).

Trevor, my 18-year-old, is paddling my blue skin-on-frame kayak, Musketequid.  Stephen, my 14-year-old, has my yellow plastic kayak, Toyboat.

 Yellow water lily (Nuphar advena) is less common than white water lily.
With such a different flower, it's hard to believe the two are in the same family.

The kingfisher pair were probably nesting on the island: they did NOT
want me hanging around, and one or the other circled and scolded almost constantly.

*I can't bring myself to use the official name "Lake Nippenicket" for a mile-long pond that never gets more than about six feet deep.  One sensible definition of "lake" is a body of water big enough that sunlight does not reach the deepest parts of the bottom. 

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