September 18, 2013

Fall Programs and Events

Meadowhawk (Sympetrum sp.) perched on arrowwood berries
Programs will be added and amended as information becomes available.

Saturday, September 7-8
Concord Ag Day and Farm and Garden Harvest Fair
Farmer's Market, Garden Tours, Film Fest, Community Gardens openhouse
For more information and schedule see, Concord Farm and Garden Harvest Fair

Tuesdays, weekly from September 10 - December 10, 9 am - noon
Fridays, monthly from September 20 - December 13, 10 am - 12:30 pm
Weekly and monthly environmental learning program for homeschoolers, led by Cherrie Corey
Enrollment now closed, stay tuned for winter-spring programs.

Wednesday, September 11, 4-5 pm
Witness/Record/Engage:  Walking Ecologies
Join WORK OUT artist Jane D. Marsching and area naturalist Cherrie Corey on a walk through deCordova's Sculpture Park to observe, identify, and record the interactions of plants, animals, art, and people.  Free with museum admission.  For more information about the exhibition and related events, see WORK OUT - deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Rescheduled from August 9, due to rain.

Monthly Autumn Walks - Great Meadows NWR/Concord
The marsh moves through many changes in the autumn months.  Colors peak and fade, migrants fill the sky then are gone, muskrat lodges appear, spiders drape the landscape with gossamer, and sunsets deepen their fiery glow.  Join Cherrie for late afternoon walks around the refuge when autumn's majesty is most palpable.
Saturday, September 21, 3:30-5:30 pm 
Saturday, October 12, 3:30-5:30 pm  October walk moved to Estabrook Woods, due to government shutdown.
Saturday, November 9, 2-4 pm

No pre-registration required.  A $5 donation/person will be gratefully accepted.

Co-sponsored with Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program
and Friends of the Assabet River NWR

Meet at the information kiosk at Great Meadows NWR in Concord

For questions or to be added to the emailing list, contact Cherrie at or 978-760-1933

Saturday, October 12, 2:30 - 5:30 pm
Haiku Walk at Great Meadows and Thoreau Farm  Walk moved to Gowing's Swamp 
Join haiku poet, Brad Bennett for a seasonal haiku experience and saunter at Great Meadows NWR in Concord.  Following an inspirational walk, the group will gather at Thoreau Farm to share poems and other creations.
Fee:  $35, no prior experience necessary
For a reservation or more information, contact Brad at or call 781-646-5032.
Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, near the information kiosk off the main parking lot.

Saturday, October 19, 1:30-4 pm
Fall Family Ramble on the Amble
All ages welcome to join me for a ramble on the newly completed Emerson-Thoreau Amble.  We will wind our way from Heywood Meadow in Concord Center to Fairyland, in the heart of the town forest and back -- passing behind Emerson's house, crisscrossing the Mill Brook, and exploring the golden fields, a variety of forest habitats, Brister's Spring, and Fairyland Pond in all its autumn splendor.  Tales of the Emersons, Alcotts, and Thoreau abound here as does the promise of magical encounters along the way!  Sponsored by Musketaquid Program for Arts and Environment.
Fee:  $12/adult, $3/youth ages 4+
To register, go to AmbleRamble registration/Musketaquid

October 20, 1-4 pm
Boggy Kettleholes in Walden Woods
To the south and west of Walden Pond, itself a large kettlehole pond, lie several smaller kettles made famous by Thoreau's descriptions of their floating sphagnum mats and boggy flora.  Explore these intimate glacial landscapes and their plant communities, going over Emerson's Cliff, down into Heywood Meadow and along the terraced Andromeda Ponds toward Fairaven Bay on the Sudbury river.  the return route passes by Thoreau's historic cabin site, Wyman's Meadow, and through mixed hardwoods, remnant stands of pitch pine, and still flowering groves of witch-hazel with beautiful views of the pond along the way.  Wear sturdy footwear, and bring a snack and water.  Sponsored by New England Wild Flower Society.  For more information and registration, go to Boggy Kettlehole registration/NEWFS.

September 13, 2013

Walking Ecologies at deCordova

Artist Jane Marsching's Field Station Concordia
Participating as one of four artists in the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park's inaugural outdoor exhibition - WORK OUT, Jane Marsching created Field Station Concordia from which she has been engaging visitors to observe, record, and respond to what they experience in the museum's landscape.  On Wednesday, September 11, Jane and I lead a walk through museum grounds to explore the dialogue between wild ecologies and expressive landscapes as they inform our relationship to place.  It was a record 97ยบ F. with a permeating haze and warm breeze, quite a contrast from the rainstorm that eclipsed our August walk.  Included here are impressions and natural dialogues that we experienced during our saunter through the sculpture park with several inspired visitors and staff.  Enjoy!

The fractal beauty of umbels on a role.  As many of you know, this is one of my favorite flower forms in the wild.  Also see my album, Umbel Moments.

James Surls' Walking Flower Times the Power of Five (2010)
The tortured surfaces of Dine's Two Big Black Hearts (1985), yield metaphoric wild reflections from the surrounding landscape.

Female spotted orbweaver (Neoscona sp.) takes advantage of the jagged surface to mount her vertical web, as she's inclined to do on building surfaces.  We discovered her poised and waiting on this baking bronze facade, about 7' above the ground!  An intriguing metaphorical pairing with the sensibilities of this sculpture.
The heart-shaped leaves and delicate flowers of burdock, whose root is nature's blood purifier and whose barbed seed pods have been the bain of long-haired little girls and furry passers-by for eons

On a more playful note, we encountered ripe poke berries nearby, which Jane mentioned using to create a deep pink ink for printing.  Inspired, Jane's mother-in-law then applied some crushed berries to her hair for a purple flourish!

Siegel's compelling buttes, constructed from surplus Worcester Telegram newspapers, rest inside an old barn foundation on the edge of the deCordova property.  Incredibly, the smaller form has poison ivy vines cascading down from its summit, while the other larger form and the surrounding ground are lush with jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), whose plant juices are the natural antidote to poison ivy's irritating oils.  Apparently, this is a serendipitous dialogue that has occurred between the landscape's inhabitants and the sculpture's terrain.

Steven Siegel's Big, with rift (2009), constructed forms newspapers and flora
Late afternoon sun highlights layers of time and stories
In this dark hollow, Jane found the fruit cluster of a Jack-in-the Pulpit, an unusually bulbous structure that was new to many in our group.  Almost immediately, we had another sculptural response...

Jack-in-the-pulpit fruit cluster
Tom Chapin's Manna (2007)
As we moved across the the lawn toward the parking lot, we discovered two fresh creations left by a morning's visit from Concord-Carlisle High School's Rivers and Revolutions students, who will be working with the deCordova, two other Concord schools, and me this fall to explore the experience of cultivating Sense of Place.

Though we didn't climb the Walking Path behind the museum on this afternoon, one sculpture that caught my eye previously reflects a primal energy that hides in plain sight both in the sculpture park and throughout the local landscape.  After a summer of caterpillar revelations inspired by Sam Jaffe's programs, Hansel's creation felt intimately familiar...

Michael Hansel's Reflex (2004)
DeWitt Godfrey's Lincoln is a monumental engagement with Lincoln's rolling landscape, its earthen colors tying in the museum's warm facade with its gently cascading front lawn.  After our July walk washout, I explored the sculpture in the rain...a shining, rhythmic revelation of sight and sound! 


Day's end images on each of the Walking Ecologies days...

August walk postponed due to rain

Up in a cloud of midges.  The steamy park air fills with swirling clouds of exuberant life, as I depart!

September 10, 2013

September Caterpillars at Great Meadows

Sam Jaffe returned to Great Meadows on September 9 to lead another caterpillar foray with an enthusiastic group of adventurers.  We began in the edge habitat around the parking lot, which never disappoints.  A yellow bear, caterpillar of the Virginian tiger moth (Spilosoma virginica), caught our attention first.

Sam took us into a nearby grove to see an azalea sphinx (Darapsa choerilus) perched on arrowwood leaves that we never would have spotted without his guidance!

A polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) caterpillar captivated us next with its luminous green body, fuzzy feet, and gold-flecked appointments.  Two young brothers and knowledgeable caterpillar enthusiasts kept Sam on his toes.

Just as we headed out the dike trail, sharp eyes spotted a spectacular Pandora sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus) who had detoured onto some buckthorn leaves amidst a tangle of grape vines, her preferred food source.  After returning her to the grape vine, she assumed a customary pose in the shade of the leaf.

Pandora sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus)

The evening primroses at Great Meadows are a bountiful resource for winged wildlife.  The primrose moth caterpillar can be found by searching seed capsules for small round holes where the caterpillars feed.  Luck was with us on this foray as many camouflaged caterpillars were stretched out next to the capsules with heads in holes.  When the mature adults are flying in early August, you may find them head down in a flower, not so well concealed!  Primrose flowers are also a rich nectar source for night-flying hawk moths and their seeds provide important late season nourishment for local songbirds and migrating snow buntings.
Primrose moth caterpillars (Schinia florida) with their heads inside seed capsules
Not seen today, I photographed this adult primrose moth in 8.2.09 near Gowing's Swamp
The willows along the dike trail are home to numerous Viceroy caterpillars, throughout the summer and early fall.  This 3rd instar Viceroy larva has made its hibernaculum where it will spend the remainder of the cold months, glued to this stem through the fiercest of conditions, hopefully to emerge next spring to complete its metamorphosis. 

Viceroy caterpillar (Limenitis archippus)
The central dike trail was teaming with diversity in early September.  Not far from the willow, we spotted this expressive silver-spotted skipper caterpillar, in its 5th instar (shedding stage) peeking out of its hibernaculum (shelter) in a showy tick-trefoil leaf. 

Silver-spotted skipper caterpillar (Epargyreus clarus)

Photo session
Three more distinctive caterpillars rounded out our dike trail foray, ending at the river.

Olive-shaded bird-dropping moth (Tarachidia candefacta) caterpillar on ragweed flowers.  Photo by Linda Graetz
Our favorite, the camouflaged looper or decorator emerald (Synchlora aerata) who dresses itself in the petals of the flowers that it consumes and nestles in among the blossoms
Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius) on a swamp white oak leaf near the river
Our final discovery, not among the caterpillars were these elm finger galls, rising from the mid-vein of the many floodplain elms, made by the mite Eriophes ulmi.

Please note, all caterpillars are veiwed under the guidance of our knowledgeable instructor, and returned to their food plants afterward.

September 9, 2013

Walden Circumambulation - Morning Mysts

Up in the frigid September dawn to walk in the Walden mysts, that delicate threshold between summer and fall, when the cooling night air first sinks onto the summer warmed waters of the pond.  As the sun rises, each movement and glance reveals an otherworldly scene of shifting vapors.