on the coldest day this season i decided to take a break and do some naturing. every month since this past spring i've gone out and communed with nature, and i didn't want to break the streak. the day wasn't too bad, a clear blue sky kind of day, it'd be perfect if it wasn't so damn cold, temperature barely eeking past the 20's. the kind of weather that reddens the nose, ears, and checks, the kind of weather you'd wear a hat and some gloves and start wearing that heavy winter jacket. i walked to my parents' cafe in the morning and borrowed the car, driving south on 93 to ponkapoag bog. it's true, our harsh new england winters leave little for naturing opportunities, but i was curious to see what the bog looked like during these cold months and whether or not any of the pitcher plants had survived the frost.
i was surprised to see cars parked outside: i figured this time of year with the weather so cold, i'd be on the only one out. turns out there were some construction guys doing some work on the trails, using heavy machinery to repave the dirt path. each one that i passed i gave a courtesy wave, until they were far away behind me, and i turned a corner down into the wooden boardwalk leading into the bog.
the surface of the bog was covered in a thin layer of ice. thick enough that i couldn't push a stick through it but thin enough that it wouldn't support my weight. the bog looked like it was covered in a sheet of plastic, taut stretch marks on the surface were growing ice crystals met. walking on the boardwalk was like walking above an aquarium; beneath the ice i could see the dead leaves, coils of sphagnum moss, and air bubbles in the icy water. sometimes the sunlight would work its way into the water and light up sections of the bog. at one point i saw a water beetle quickly swim away.
since this was my 3rd time at the ponkapoag bog, i had a mental map of where some of the pitcher plants were growing. like seeing old friends, i visited each one, taking a few souvenir snapshots (365 total). they were obviously dormant, all of them frozen solid. the mechanism they used to feed on insects was also the same thing that kept them frozen: the pool of digestive juices were all frozen solid, each pitcher containing an egg-shaped ice cube. some plants were so heavy they toppled over, the brittle ones breaking off completely from the parent plant. i'm not sure if the pitchers are ever reused, but i'd be surprised if they can survive the prolonged freezing. with the leaves gone i saw more pitcher plants than in my previous 2 visits. they became easy to spot against the bare vegetation, especially the ones that had turned red. i performed some daring acrobatic feats trying to get some of the photos: feet perched on the boardwalk, my body suspended over the bog, one hand grasping on a clump of frozen sphagnum for support, the other hand working the camera, occasionally using my mouth to turn the swivel for better angling.
apart from pitcher plants, there were also dormant sundews, which were very inconspicuous and i didn't already know where to look i would've never known what they were: tiny balls that resemble closed fern fronds clung to the sides of the wooden boardwalk. eventually i made it to the end of the path, but not before walking on a plank that quickly sunk into the freezing water as i went across, soaking my feet up to my ankles, my shoes along with them. with wet feet far away from civilization surrounded by water i started to get nervous, so i headed back out.
the weather started to take a toll on my body as i began to feel cold. i hurried out of the reservation and back into the warm dry comfort of the car. i drove back to the cafe to return the vehicle. my 3rd great uncle and aunt were visiting my parents, showing them a photo album of wedding photos of their son to a chinese girl through an arranged marriage in beijing. my uncle said he could introduce me to a girl as well (passing me a photo) but i told him i wasn't interested. later i got a ride back to my place.
before i had time to unwind, dan contacted me about catching a movie at the boston common. even though he'd already seen the incredibles, he didn't mind seeing it again. dan got a pair of tickets through some discounted vouchers, and we even got some coupons for free small popcorns. the incredibles is an awesome movie, off the top of my head i don't think i've seen a better movie this year other than eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. there's something you can do with cgi that's hard to do with live actors and actual props and real locations, and that is to achieve a level of storytelling perfection. that's what we're seeing with these pixar movies, nothing is on the screen that isn't essential to the plot, yet at the same time there's an incredible level of detail and attention. the incredibles is just a great movie, and i can see why dan wanted to see it again. it's the kind of movie you can just watch in bed lying on your side, a soothing motion picture, the right level of comedy, of suspense, of emotions. there are some great messages in the film, and some great scenes. it still speaks to kids, with things like parents fighting, or watching your mom or dad do something really cool. it's definitely a lot more intense than the usual pixar movies, and the PG rating is totally warranted but it's nothing like bambi's mother getting killed or wizard of oz flying monkeys bad.
after the movie, dan and i traveled back to porter square to our respective homes.