after only 3 hours of sleep, i woke up at 8am to go do some grocery shopping next door, getting some sandwich making ingredients for the naturing expedition i'd be taking with bruce today. i came back and made honey ham sandwiches with dijon mustard. attempting to add a touch of fanciness to an otherwise drab creative, i decided to cut off the toasted edges, which resulted in very small sandwiches.

at exactly 9:30 i crossed the street and rang bruce's doorbell. he answered, one of the rare times when he wasn't greeting people in his bathrobe and underwear. after a few more minutes of him getting ready, we got into his pittsburg-mobile and drove north to gloucester, to the 600 acres ravenswood park.

ravenswood park contains 10 miles of trails, dotted with glacial "erratics", vernal pools, and includes the great magnolia swamp. bruce immediately realized that he'd been here before. ravenswood around this time of the season is abundant in three things: mosquitoes, frogs, and mushrooms. even though we sprayed down, after hours of walking and sweating, the DEET started to lose its effective protection and the mosquitoes started biting. the fact that the reservation contains a large swamp and many vernal pools probably doesn't help keep the mosquito population down either. bruce, who rarely seems to be bitten whenever we have these outings, was chased relentlessly by these flying bloodsuckers. i fared better, but i think i'm just used to it by now.

there were certainly a lot of frogs and toads throughout ravenswood. they're easy to spot, just train your eyes for anything that's jumping out of the way when you walk down the trail. at one point, on our way out, the ground was just littered with these small black shapes hopping like spiders. they weren't spiders though, but rather small baby toads. we also found larger adult toads as well (size of small oranges), some so fat they could barely jump out of our way. up in fernwood lake, we spotted a bullfrog midway between its metamorphosis into an adult frog, still retaining its tail which was as long as its body. it was kind of freaky looking and what scared us more was imagining how large its tadpole phase must've been. we also found a green frog sitting in a muddy puddle in the middle of the trail. we prodded it with a stick but it wouldn't budge. just when we both decided there must've been something wrong with that frog, it snapped alive and jumped several feet at a time into the woods.

baby toad

spring peeper


wood frog

bullfrog w/tail

green frog

the last great area of natural abundance was in the category of mushroom varieties. with the absence of very many flowering plants growing in the shady forest floor beneath the arboreal canopy, mushrooms add a hint of color to an otherwise drab landscape.


lichen agaric

stinkhorn bits

spiny puffball (mature)

spiny puffball

flame colored chanterelle

yellow patches

insect egg mass slime

coral slime

unknown mushroom w/ring

scarlet waxy cap

variable russula

panther-like mushroom

unknown tree trunk mushrooms

white coral

the best place in the entire reservation is without a doubt the area by fernwood lake up north. unfortunately, from the main entrance, it's quite a trek walking through the woods to finally get to this point but it's well worth it (there's also a trail that comes in from route 133, but that'd be cheating). from the banks of the lake there's plenty of dragonfly and damselfly activities, blue dragonflies (slaty skimmers) and violet damselflies. frogs can be seen as well, either resting on lilypads or poking their heads above the water, occasionally croaking. a land bridge cuts off a small corner of the lake: this protected area is covered with lilypads, dotted with fragrant waterlilies. a black-crowned night heron could be seen perched on a rock, and a great blue heron stalked for prey nearby. we also scared away an eagle resting in a tree. elsewhere, closer to the water's edge, growing on a carpet of peat moss, were carnivorous sundews (which bears a cursory resemblance to venus flytraps), their sticky leaves opened up to capture unwary insects.

bruce spotted the large garter snake hiding in the bushes on the edge of the land bridge. this is only the 3rd time in my life i've seen a live snake before out in the wild, and this was the biggest one by far, close to 2 feet long with a diameter greater than a quarter. it had beautiful striped markings on its back (which made me think it was a ribbon snake initially, but bruce identified it as a garter snake).

garter snake (not eastern ribbon snake)

we ate our lunches in the woods by the lake. bruce shared some cherries while i had some grapes. i didn't feel right eating without washing my hands, especially after touching all sorts of god-knows-what in the forest, poisonous or otherwise. after we were done, we decided to go all the way around fernwood lake trail (the blue dots) instead of turning back the way we came in. around that point it was more about escaping the forest than fully enjoying its beauties, as not only was it a race against time (bruce had to be somewhere in boston by 5:30), but also to flee from the mosquitoes, which seemed to be multiplying. we got to the hermit's plaque (not much to see, just a point on the map), then down ledge hill trail to the quarry followed by the scenic vista overlooking gloucester harbor. we kept on marching along the trail until we made it back to the parking lot.



scenic vista

bonus insect photos!

striped hairstreak

slaty skimmer

giant wood borer

coming up to gloucester we played my mix cd of sad songs, but going back down to boston i put in my summer fun cd. bruce went into a frenzy when he heard marlene dietrich, cranking the volume to maximum (how was i to know that she's a gay icon), and we sang along to a few of olivia newton john's greatest hits. we drove through medford square followed by davis square before arriving at our area of cambridge.

i took a hot shower, then fell asleep a little bit on the couch. later my parents dropped by and we had these instant thai noodle bowls they purchased from costco for dinner.