lady slipper time

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity of central Vermont this week, you should drop the rest of your plans and get on over to the Eshqua Bog in Hartland. It’s a small wetland nature preserve featuring hundreds of pink showy lady slipper orchids, and they’re in perfect bloom RIGHT NOW!Image

We went for a hike there a couple of days ago, and although it was an overcast, somewhat rainy day, it turned out to be the perfect day for a bog visit.Image

The Nature Conservancy of Vermont and New England Wildflower Society have teamed up to maintain this beautiful spot, including a hiking trail and several boardwalks to help visitors cross the more marshy areas.Image

I recently read about the charming Japanese concept of forest bathing. Since 1982, the Japanese Department of Forestry has been advising shinrin-yoku – a brief visit to a forest – as a stress-relief practice. I can’t really argue with that. Apparently there are significant health benefits not just from being in a beautiful setting, but actually breathing in the forest air.

I have heard British people making fun of Americans for calling a walk in nature “a hike,” rather than just “a walk.” Guess they’re wrong too, apparently we’re all going for “a bath.” Personally I’m rather fond of the New Zealand term, “tramping,” though I can see how the phrase “going tramping” might come off as not the most wholesome activity.Image

Anyhow, a rainy day turned out to be a wonderful time for a bog walk/hike/tramp/bath because not only was it nice and cool and dewy, but the air was so fragrant I could smell it before we even got out of the car. Full of those aromatherapeutic wood essences that Japanese people are so wild about.Image

This bog is a really ethereally beautiful place, and the canopy of trees is so thick that even when it showered a little during our walk, we didn’t feel hardly a drop, and only knew it was even raining by the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves far above us. Image

The bog is home to wildlife too – deer and hares and dragonflies and a whole host of delightfully noisy birds. We didn’t see any animals besides insects on this trip, but we did see some of their food – wild raspberries, Image

and coral mushrooms.Image

Another species of orchid are also in bloom right now – these adorably teeny bog orchids:Image

But the real star of the show is the showies. They were just bursting into bloom when we were there, and some had yet to fully emerge from the bud stage.Image

They actually look really cool right before they open.Image

By now I bet they are all open and showing their fully showy glory.Image

To get to the Eshqua Bog from I-91, take exit 9 to get onto VT-12 north. Follow for several miles then turn left onto Hartland Hill Road. Make a sharp left onto Garvin Hill Road, and follow it about a mile until you see the Eshqua Bog Natural Area sign on the right, just after a small pull-over parking area. Enjoy the flowers and the magical healing powers of the forest!DSC01728


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