August 7, 2014

Summer's Journey into Twilight and Wonder

I begin my twilight foray, at Great Meadows, in search of groundnut blossoms (Apios americana) and am greeted by backlit strands all along the beginning of the Dike Trail.  Groundnut, which is prolific along moist edge habitats in Concord, is a native vine that produces both edible beans and starchy tubers and was a prized food of indigenous inhabitants for millennia.

In the evening light, showy tick-trefoil flowers have given way to thousands of velcroed seed pods, which catch the light and our clothes, if we pass too near.

The vastness of sky always captures my attention in this place, and in August this expanse is met by a great carpet of American lotuses.  Tonight's raking light illuminates passing thunderheads and the creamy blossoms below, the two joined in communion by gray, showery curtains.

Further down the Dike Trail, our native wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is coming into seed and only reveals itself boldly in spotlighted moments such as these.  These grassy sprays are highlighted by this year's unusual abundance of purple loosestrife, which revels in these cooler summer temperatures.

Also abundant this summer, is one of Great Meadows' rarest plants...milk parsley (Peucedanum palustre).  A relative of Queen Anne's lace and other members of the carrot family (Apiaceae), milk parsley was introduced to North America from northern Europe more than a century ago and is known now only to grow at Great Meadows and two other Mass. locations.

Tumble of milk parley under tumbling clouds
As the sun sinks below the horizon, I step into the shadows of the floodplain forest seeking late summer's most brilliant blooms. Tucked away in these darkest corners along the river, cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) seem to glow from within, especially as daylight fades.

Rain starts falling gently on the river, and as I emerge from the forest canopy, there the gibbous moon shines high over the marsh veiled by showery curtains that suddenly catch the steep rays of the setting sun.  Another celestial miracle at Great Meadows unfolds as a rainbow appears, arching just over the ripening moon.  I walk by a visitor silently gazing up and holding her heart.

Chasing the rainbow down the trail, I come to the inlet channel in time to behold this perfect Bierstadt vision of the marshes just as the rain passes away.

Lotus leaves are left bejeweled...and all is washed and radiant for the night.


  1. Wow, these photos are fantastic. Better than life because I can focus on the detail. I hope you've shown them to your Dad. I'm sure he's proud of your work.

  2. What a magical evening! Thanks for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual walk with you!