North to Churchill, Day Two

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

July 2, 2018

Yesterday we were grateful for our bug shirts. Today we’re grateful for bug shirts and Kelly’s new Garmin GPS as we make our way into Iron Springs Bog, a place where it’s easy to get turned around and not know the way out again–something that happened to us once before. We’ve stopped here on our way up to Winnipeg in hopes of seeing orchids, and we’re  not disappointed. Within five minutes Kelly  has spotted a blooming round-leaved orchid and I’ve found an early coral root gone to seed.  A few minutes later we see tall northern bog orchid and northern green orchid, and not long after we find bunches of showy lady’s-slipper. Stemless lady’s-slipper has already gone to seed, and one small heart-leaved twayblade is bravely blooming in the moss. Tiny lesser rattlesnake plantain is almost hidden in the deep sphagnum moss next to even tinier one-sided pyrola.

When we’ve had our fill of orchids (along with gold thread, bog buckbean, and three leaved false Solomon ‘s seal gone to seed), we followed the GPS back to the car. Soon we leave peat lands behind for a wide prairie sky as we look for the western prairie fringed orchids that we’d seen last year in a ditch alongside a wildlife management area. We drive along the edge of the area peering deeply into ditches until finally we jubilantly spot three western prairie fringed orchids. While Kelly takes photos I wander up the other side of the ditch to discover a prairie full of the bright white blossoms of over fifty more orchids.

“When you’re done there you might want to come up here,” I call. “I think you’ll be happy you did.”

She does, and she is. While Kelly takes picture after picture of orchids from bud to full bloom I wander, grinning, among more western fringed prairie orchids than I’ve ever seen in my life.

Finally we head  farther north at the end of a day filled with orchids.

 

 

North to Churchill, Day One

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

July 1, 2018

We’ve headed out on a road trip to Winnipeg to catch a plane to Churchill, Manitoba, to take a class on sub-arctic wildflowers at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.  Our plane leaves on Thursday, but we’ve left a few days early to spend some time in the aspen tallgrass prairie parkland and places en route.   Rain hammers down as we leave town, but we’re hopeful we will drive through it.  Kelly assures me the forecast is for the rain to end at three.

We’ve packed, unpacked, repacked, shopped for essentials (including bug shirts, our new favorite thing) and packed some more.  Churchill’s weather will be cool and rainy, but Minnesota promises to be hot and sunny, a forecast that the cold rain pouring down clearly hasn’t heard.  We drive on in hope toward Long Lake Conservation Center, where last year we hiked through the woods to see several rose pogonia and grass pink orchids.  This time we’ve been offered a canoe to paddle down past floating bogs toward where we saw the orchids.   Rain still falls as we don our new bug shirts under raincoats and launch the canoe at 1:30, but within five minutes the rain no longer matters, because we’ve come to a gathering of blue flag, pitcher plant, and rose pogonia—not just one rose pogonia, but many. We paddle on, past more and more rose pogonia, the occasional grass pink, bog rosemary, water lilies, yellow pond lilies, water shield, bog cranberries, water arum, and sundew with tiny, tiny buds almost ready to bloom.

We paddle back through a richness of flowers we had never imagined when we hiked out to see orchids last year.  It all depends on your point of view, and the view from the water is spectacular.

And at three minutes after three, the rain stops.

 

 

 

 

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