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A bounty of orchids

Lincoln is blessed with so many wonderful wildflowers that it is almost fortunate that our showiest local orchid, the pink lady’s slipper, is rare enough not to outshine the rest. By another of its monikers, it became the eponym for Moccasin Hill, one of Modernist neighborhood Brown’s Wood’s crossing ways. (The other is Laurel Drive, for another spectacular native, Kalmia latifolia.)

The lady’s slipper is noted for its particularity of habitat, requiring a mycorrhizal helper to germinate (and to survive when dormant), very acidic soil and just the right amount of light to thrive. It is also sparing of its graces; while plants may survive for a century or more, they only leaf in favorable years and flower not always then. Difficult to propagate by usual methods, expensive in the trade, it is occasionally poached from the wild—like this example of which Harold says: “Someone has stolen this lady’s slipper from along the Farrar Pond trail. The first to appear, it has bloomed at the same spot for over 20 years. Now it is gone forever. Shame on the perpetrator!”

Before   After

And doubly sad, the fragility of root structures means that few pilfered plants will survive captivity anyway. This selfish act, stealing delight from people and food from a number of other animals, is also illegal:

No person shall pull up or dig up the plant of a wild azalea, wild orchid or cardinal flower (lobelia cardinalis), or any part thereof, or injure any such plant or any part thereof except in so far as is reasonably necessary in procuring the flower therefrom, within the limits of any state highway or any other public way or place, or upon the land of another person without written authority from him, and no person shall buy or sell, or offer or expose for sale, any such flower, or the whole or any part of the plant thereof, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that in procuring such flower or plant the foregoing provisions have been violated. Violation of any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than five dollars.

Though now risible, the size of the fine is consonant with the seniority of this law (1935), and the relatively early awareness that private depredations on public land were degrading natural beauty belonging to all. Please leave these too-rare gems to live, grow and spread!



 A good year!


Each year, volunteers intimately  familiar with the pond’s public southern shoreline make a careful census of Cypripedium acaule:

  Shoreline segment 2014 2013 2012 2010 2009 2008 2007
 1-2 Boathouse ↔ Flying Squirrel Hollow  38  23  24 33  56 51  71
 2-3 Flying Squirrel Hollow ↔ Pine Point  17  7  6 15  32  24  32
 3-4 Pine Point ↔ Sweet Pepper Bush  3  2  1  2  4 3
 4-5 Sweet Pepper Bush ↔ Perch Point  17  10  5  7  7  2  4
 5-6 Perch Point ↔ Canoes  27  22  25  11  33  10 37
 5-7 Canoes ↔ Birch Point  0  0  0  0  1  0  0
 7-8 Birch Point ↔ Well  47  27  33  44  43  32  41
 8-9 Well ↔ Dam  3  1  5  1  3  5  2
   Total    152  92  99  114  179  123  194


(More information on points of interest in this post.)








Bird shower

Birds baths, when available, are a year-round boon to all sorts of winged and surface-bound visitors and permanent residents. Where the vigor with which an oriole

S0248036fpexploits this elevated puddle might encourage the pathetic fallacy of imputing decadent delight, such a “deep scrub” is critical to the maintenance of feather condition and the control of mites and other parasites. Yet activity around these small ponds can be hyper indeed, especially in times and places of scarce moisture, high social activity or territorial assertion:


On the subject of low water, austerity measures imposed by state authority and refined in administration by Lincoln’s own Water Department (for an interesting read, see also the per-address usage tables posted there) mandate broad reductions in non-essential use. Since tubs require such a large fill volume for so little actual consumption, avian bathers are duty-bound to respect the same guidelines as their human benefactors. Fortunately, low-cost photovoltaic cells and high-energy product rare earth permanent magnet motors (both increasingly monopolized by China) converge in the ready availability of fixed or floating “solar fountains” in various configurations:


Deep dish



Plugged into the sun

An additional benefit from adding this feature to a bird bath is that mosquitoes seem unwilling to lay eggs in their presence. Apparently, egg deposition does not occur at night, when the spray is dormant. This does not apply to larger bodies of water,


Shallow pool

but the fish, tadpoles, turtles, dragonfly nymphs and other carnivores that more natural ponds usually host can make quick work of both eggs and wrigglers (ad even low-hovering mosquito mothers).

If a saucer is used, it should be wide enough to contain most of the spray even in a gentle wind, and deep enough not to require frequent filling:


Rocks provide stability for the bath, a beach between dips


and filler to maintain depth when most water has splashed out or evaporated. The area required for bathing per se is quite modest:


At least when food is plentiful, weather congenial and other priorities minimal, though, the bird bath seems to be a preferred spot for conversation


(with ever a wary eye on the nearby photographer)


and peaceful contemplation of the infinite:




Sky scream


From its regal post atop the tallest pine around (competitors having succumbed to divine intervention), this broad-winged (?) hawk expressed itself without restraint:






Why? Mating, chatting with the kids, marking territory. An additional theory is that the cry starts prey from hiding. It is astonishingly loud; this blurry video was taken at extreme range and through a storm door:

Sursum corda


in manus tuas