A deer whooshed and crashed away through the woods as I loaded my canoe at Kimball Deadwater in the Seboeis parcel of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Continuing north two miles on the American Thread Road, I parked at the sign for Twin Ponds, on the left. I would just take a look today and perhaps return with the canoe tomorrow.
My feet fell silently on the soft path as I cautiously approached the small oval pond. The far shore rose high enough to support a narrow strip of spruce and other conifers. Gradually, most of the perimeter came into view, and there was a cow moose feeding contentedly in the shallows at the south end. I watched her, alert for any sign of a calf or two, for it was that time of year. Sure enough, she soon climbed on shore, and a light brown calf emerged, fuzzy in the morning sun.
I planned to return the next morning to see if I could get through to the even tinier twin pond that lies behind this one. And so I did.
A loon was diving for breakfast, and I watched him swallow more than one silvery minnow. Paddling toward the southwest corner, the connecting stream materialized from what had looked like solid shore. I scrambled out of the boat to lift over a narrow bridge of land and continued on.
The second pond was quite shallow and perhaps a third the size of the first. Along the eastern shore was a colorful bog, its palette rich with reds and greens. Later, checking out the Maine Natural Areas Program categories, I believe it would be classified as a Mossy Bog Mat. Purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) flowers poked above the sphagnum mosses, and there were a few scattered trees and clumps of sheep laurel. Walking just far enough for a couple of photos, the spongy ground gave and shifted underfoot.
That afternoon, my friend Chris Gill commented on my last blog post, saying he missed the days when he’d had to identify the plants for me. I said, “You only need to ask,” with a photo of the little orchid below. Chris identified it, of course, then also suggested that next time I look closely in the moss for carnivorous sundews as well. Horned bladderwort, a third carnivorous species with yellow flowers, might also be present, according to MNAP.
The shaded shore is always the place to back the canoe in and watch for wildlife. It just so happened that the spot I chose offered up a new orchid. “New” meaning that I don’t remember having identified it before, although I well could have. A rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides), just a single specimen.
From Twin Ponds, the road continued north to the intersection with Grondin Road. Turning right, another three miles brought me back to Route 159. This would conclude my time in the national monument for now.
That evening, my parents and I took a drive to fill our water jugs at a local spring. On a typical whim, we turned into the gravel road to the Shin Brook Falls trail, happily bumping and bouncing along. On the way out, I was perched in the middle of the back seat. Looking ahead to the crest of the slope, there was a bear, smack in the middle of the road. Right size and shape, ebony black, and gone too quickly, before anyone else could see it.