Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Post Apocalyptic* Summer Meanderings

* literary licence being used here. Apocalypse refers to moving household from Kanata to Arnprior in later June/early July.  This may be not on the scale that apocalypse is appropriate.  Only those  older folks who are downsizing may understand the use of this word.

Weather: summery (cooler than average than our last 4 summers, with a bit more water...providing a better than average natural bounty).

Arnprior has some great nature sites within the town. Two of these are the Macnamara Trail and Gillies Grove. The latter is a National Historic Site, and a Nature Conservancy-owned conservation area.

I have visited these places, and several lakes in the Gatineau Hills in the Pontiac region of Quebec (a short drive from Arnprior).  Some highlights:

 While enjoying a few late July days with friends Marc, Paul and Cheryl at Lac Bernard, Quebec, I photographed some common flowering plants of the region, including the familiar Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta above, and White Baneberry Actaea pachypoda (also known as Doll's Eyes) below. The plant is poisonous to humans and the berries especially so, as they contain a toxin which causes cardiac arrest.

Below is Self-heal, Prunella vulgaris, a common mint family flower of our local woods. This plant, as its name implies, has been used historically to treat wounds, and for sore throats.  The whole plant is edible and is, allegedly, a tasty addition to salads, stews and is also used to make an infusion ( I refuse to use the term "herbal tea", as tea is a specific group of Asian herbs).

We often see the plant below along trails in colder woods.  It's large rose flowers are very attractive, and it is indeed a member of the large rose family.  It is Purple-flowering Raspberry Rubus odoratus. The plant is a large (3-6 feet high and broader than that) shrub. The flowers are 2-3 inches across, and very fragrant. This native thornless plant is an excellent addition to a garden. The large hairy raspberries are edible, but are an "acquired taste". I leave them for the birds.

Lac Bernard is a typical southern Canadian Shield lake, surrounded by cottages.  Therefore the lake doesn't have the ecological purity of more remote lakes.  This doesn't seem to bother the Whirlygig Beetles, millions of which were patrolling the surface of the entire lake.

More to come soon.  Jan and I are off tomorrow to the Maritimes for 10 days.  I expect some interesting marine mammal and waterfowl sightings!