Monday, April 3, 2017

Ames Nowell State Park in a Nor'easter

Ames Nowell State Park had been in my mind in recent weeks, and the snow and wind of a building nor'easter reminded me that lately I hadn't seen much weather from the inside.  My job ending* Friday gave me the kick I needed, so Saturday afternoon I went for a walk there.

 I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know Ames Nowell even existed until we'd lived in Brockton for a decade, and even then I'd never visited.  Besides being a bit out of the way of my usual rut, the park's reputation as a favorite among fishermen and dog walkers also slowed me down: I like people to appreciate nature, but prefer they do it someplace else. 

I like to preserve the possibility of adventure, even though my adventures are usually brief, tame, close-to-home affairs.  To that end I collect (low budget) Adventure Gear.  I have clothing for most of the weather I'm likely to encounter here.  One weather combination that concerns me is wet and cold, which together can become hazardous if water ruins the insulating properties that protect from cold--a situation I'd gotten into last fall.  So I took the opportunity to test a combination I hadn't: super-cheap Dri Ducks rain jacket over a medium-weight down jacket, and fleece-lined water-resistant pants from Gravel Gear.  A venerable canvas Tilley hat, kinda-waterproof, insulated gloves, and my old Lands End boots protected my ends.

The focus of the park is Cleveland Pond, a vaguely T-shaped body of water studded with islands.  American beech with pale winter leaves dangling are scattered among oaks and red maple.  Ground cover plants like prince's pine, striped wintergreen, and The forested land slopes now gently, now more steeply to the narrow pond that stretches on the west, islands of different sizes visible through the mist.  I took the trails that stayed closest to the water, making my way across the top of the T and back.  There were no tracks save mine, and those of one coyote or unaccompanied dog.  Precipitation couldn't make up its mind between rain, sleet and snow, but the temperature was always above freezing.  The walk was nice, though trails had become running brooks difficult to negotiate with leaking boots.

The rocky pond shore is shot through with trails that become streams, pond views, and clothed with forest with scattered American beech whose tan leaves last through the winter. 

Bridges are nice, but the folks who planned them didn't always know where the water would be.

American holly is more of a southern tree, but I see them around now and again.

Chimaphila maculata (above) and Gaultheria procumbens (below) are plants of long-undisturbed woods.  Though not closely-related, they are both often called "wintergreen."  Better names are spotted pipsissewa and American teaberry.  (Leaves and berries of teaberry have a mild minty flavor.)

Lycopodium dendroideum, prince's pine, is another plant of undisturbed woods.
Despite needle-like leaves, it is a spore-bearing plant--like ferns--rather than a conifer.

This may be a vernal pool that dries out in summer: since they do not support a fish population, vernal poos are refuges for frogs, salamanders and the like. 
A "hollow."  How do these distinctive landscape features form?

A silver maple that bloomed weeks ago is loosing its spent male flowers in the wind and sleet.

I took video of pond views, trails both dry and running with water, trees, and "hollows."  (The black borders that appear and disappear are the computer's attempt to compensate for my shaky hands.)

I aim for the "slightly-disreputable" look.

Outer clothing.  My next task is to figure out how to repair boots, which I cannot afford to replace.

My clothing got passing grades--except for boots that are coming apart.  My Dri Ducks--jacket and pants made of water-resistant paper and coming packed in a pouch for emergency use--are probably not very durable, and would not do for bushwhacking though briars, but serve well enough for those rainy occasions when carrying an umbrella isn't possible: say, when sailing or kayaking, or hiking in close woods.  (You need to be careful around briars.)  My lined pants are really nice: I wear them now whenever out in cold weather, and they didn't let much rain through.

*Not traumatic, mind you: I'm a substitute teacher, so my jobs usually only last two or three months before I'm on the prowl once more. 

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