Okay crazy weekend. Drove to DC on Friday to perform with my klezmer band at a house party, then up to Heathcote community in northern MD to play with some other musicians at the community, then back down to a retreat center outside of Baltimore to play at a wedding. I didn’t think I would have much (any) time to do any nature walkin’, but early on Sunday morning, before we had to leave for the wedding, I was able to spend a couple of hours exploring around Heathcote Community .
Heathcote is right on the Maryland/Pennsylvania line, so it’s about 150 miles north of Twin Oaks. That’s far enough to have slightly different communities of trees and plants, although the general mid-Atlantic deciduous forest look of both places is similar. You notice little things, like the day lillies at Heathcote (below) that have just begun to open, while ours have been open for about 10 days.
and they had these sort of compound-leaved trees (some sort of walnut?) with enormous shelf mushrooms growing on them.
As I walked through the community in the morning, I saw this pipe just below a house with clear water pouring out of it. It looked like a piped spring, but it location made me suspicious– I wasn’t entirely sure that it wasn’t part of someone’s eco-groovy graywater system, so I didn’t fill my bottle from it.
I had high hopes of finding a bunch of mushrooms on the trip, but Heathcote, maybe because it’s a couple of climate zones north of here, just didn’t have the fungal upwelling that is currently happening in Virginia. I did find these odd peaky ones, which I’m not familiar with at home.
Eventually the trail ended in a boggy mess of ferns and enormous leafy plants. When I broke off a leaf in order to attend to some “business,” I learned why they are called skunk cabbage. Pee-yew!
I bushwhacked through the woods to where they ended, in a strange hilly mix of woods, grassy areas, cornfields, and crackling high-transmission power lines. Not the most inviting area for exploration.
I went back into the woods, and made my way back down to the creek, through an area almost entirely populated by these large leaved trees, which I believe to be pawpaw. Later in the summer/fall, these will have loads of tasty fruits.
Eventually, I found a side trail, which led me to this waist-deep pool in the creek, right at the end of a nearly 180-degree dogleg. I guess this is as close to a swimmin’ hole as you’re going to find at Heathcote community. I wasn’t quite ready for a dip, but the water was clear and cool, and it was nice to wade and splash a bit on my face before walking back to resume my hard-playin’ weekend.