Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A place for silence

A visit to Cranberry Glades Botanical Area was the field trip I was most looking forward to in West Virginia. Part of the Monongahela National Forest, these wetlands hold plants more typically found much further north; ones I know from the Pine Barrens here in NJ and from my visits to the bogs of the Adirondacks. The landscape is unexpected and especially beautiful for its peculiarity here.

A half-mile boardwalk through the glades and surrounding bog forest protects the fragile environment while allowing close looks at False Hellebore and Marsh Marigold growing among Red Spruce, Hemlock and Yellow Birch trees, all of which can live shallow-rooted in such a wet area. Late summer will have the glades stippled with Orchids and Cotton Grass under a bluer than blue sky. Sundews and Pitcher Plants will be devouring insects under the hot sun.

The views are dramatic: rimmed by mountain ridges and pines, made even more primordial steeped in fog, garnet-colored Cranberries leftover from last fall lie hidden among the tiny vines covering the peat and Bog Rosemary and Serviceberry were in bloom. You can see winter there, still, up on the ridge. Cranberry Glades is nestled in a bowl among the mountains at 3400 feet.

As is my habit, I fell back from the group at every opportunity, preferring instead the tranquility of Hemlocks and Rhododendrons bathed in sunlight. Louisiana Waterthrushes and Blackburnian Warblers sang insistently with the Spring Peepers as I tried to appreciate the lack of human noise in this otherwordly place. Ravens called to one another above me.

Moments of grace and beauty were plentiful on this trip. My camera captured only a few of them, but being out there to experience them fully is what makes the day for me. I struggled for pics of the Canada Warbler that taunted and sang just out of view, but once I gave up on that, this little guy popped up and posed as pretty as could be.

14 comments:

Rabbits' Guy said...

Musta been a great trip!

divakitty said...

I love that top picture!

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful!

Heather
Wayne, PA

Mary said...

It was a great day there although we had warmth and sunshine on our trip. I noticed the silence often, too, Laura. And, I did hang back a few times bending over a yellow flower.

KGMom said...

Laura--I so resonate with your seeking the quiet places. I can go almost days at a time with just my own company (and the dog & cats!).
Your photos certainly do speak to the beauty to behold. And the final photo of the Canada Warbler--sweet.

NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely post, Laura. The pictures speak volumes.

Lynne said...

I had a hunch that Cranberry Glades would be a special place to you. I reminded me of the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota.

MojoMan said...

Very nice, Laura. I love the image of you slipping away from the crowd for a moment of solitude. I can certainly relate to that.

Sandy said...

That is my kind of place, too. Sounds like you guys had a very special time.

Susan Gets Native said...

That was such a cool place. I'm not the only one who wants to be back there right now.

KatDoc said...

Our day at Cranberry was too hot and sunny - I feel like I missed so much on that trip that I need to go back, and soon.

BTW, KGMom - that last warbler was a Common Yellowthroat, not a Canada. Still a sweet bird, and doesn't deserve the "common" label.

~Kathi

dguzman said...

You need to write travel books, Laura. You're amazing.

Edelweiss Transplanted said...

Beautiful! I will need to head west and visit this place.

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.