Liver, Trout, Rattlesnake, Death

Loosely translated. And death “two ways,” as chefs say. (And this.)

On a walk in mid-April to the Lyme Hill Conservation Area in Lyme, NH — managed by the Upper Valley Land Trust — I saw hepatica (“liver”) in bloom, trout lily leaves, and rattlesnake plantain, among other diversions.

Here’s a recap.

First, the obligatory photo of the kiosk.


A view down to a Grant Brook tributary:


Grant Brook roaring:



Trees, one looking like art to me, and a stand of white birches.


I especially like the pink white birches (betula papyrifera; aka paper birch):


The trail mark on a beech tree is a particularly beautiful colour, I think; I wonder if I can get some interior house paint made to match it?


The text trail markers are also nicely lettered and painted:



There was one spot where dozens of trees had fallen, all facing the same way. I can’t recall which direction they faced to determine what sort of storm befall them in what season (winter nor’easter, summer thunderstorm microburst, strong northwest fall and winter gales, summer or fall hurricane, or tornado – unlikely here), as Tom Wessels instructs in his Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England .


I also liked the boulders, lichens, and mosses along the trails:



This fungus reminded me of some kind of scallop or sea shell:


I took another photo of what I thought was a purple fungus but when I edited it, I realised it was a dead baby mouse or vole; still makes me sad to see it:


That was death one way.


Death the other way was the “CEMTY” that popped up near the end of the trail, across and uphill from the Connecticut River. A plaque notes that it’s the Gilbert Cemetery where Lyme’s original settlers are buried. The stones that are still readable are dated in the 1700s.


I like how they slip in Elizabeth Sloan’s “n” with a caret; she was 9 years old when she died:


And this one memorialises two 6-month-old twins, Mariam and Esther:


Here’s a bit of the Connecticut River at the end of the trails:



Hepatica, which I rarely see when trail walking in this area, was everywhere, and a big colony on a ridge was budding purple and white. I think this is Anemone acutiloba (sharp-lobed hepatica), but it could be blunt-lobed hepatica (Anemone americana); the main difference is the sharpness of the leaves. According to Go Botany, sharp-lobed hepatica roots were given by the Iroquois in a compound to forest runners to relieve shortness of breath. The seeds of hepatica are dispersed by ants.



Trout lily (Erythronium americanum) were not blooming yet but there were a zillion sets of leaves, and I found it impossible to take a non-blurry photo of any of them:


It’s always a little exciting to come upon rattlesnake plantain, which tends to be a bit hidden in the leaves, like a secret gift; I think this is the downy version (Goodyera pubescens), with the white stripe down the middle:



On the trail to the wetland viewing area, I came upon a real animal — an eastern red newt ….


— and a false animal — a non-alligator made from a sleeping tree trunk:



Finally, in the middle of a little island in a pond (that still had some ice in it), was this charming little statue — perhaps Krishna playing a flute? — to keep the animals company:



“…beauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it. It’s the ephemeral configuration of things in the moment, when you can see both their beauty and their death.” — Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog






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