i wasn't going to wait anymore. the weather this week kept on threatening to rain but it was just a clever bluff. i figured the pattern would continue and decided to risk it and go out naturing (versus going into boston with julie so she could buy a hat). the only problem was finding a place to go. i had a spot in carlisle in mind but turns out i've been to the great brook farm state park before. i flipped through the maps until i saw the assabet river national wildlife refuge at the intersection of maynard, sudbury, and hudson (3 towns i've never been in before, west of boston). a quick online search revealed that the place only recently opened up for general use, a few trails set up for naturalists. its newness meant it'd be relatively empty and unspoiled, so i was sold, and threw my gear into a backpack and took off on my motorcycle.

i went on route 2A to route 62 west to route 27 south to fairbank road then hudson road, relatively straight-forward, until i saw the sign for the wildlife refuge. there was a large parking lot, empty except for a USPS van (mailman on a lunch break). there was a large open space with some nondescript wild flowers, a white goldenrod spider conspicuously out in the open, trying to snare a meal. i saw milkweed plants but no signs of monarch caterpillars. a wooden gazebo near the entrance contained windowed boxes filled with pamphlets and trail maps. by then the elusive sun had come out and it started getting hot. a sign pointed to a trail that lead into the forest. i followed. minutes later, after suddenly being swarmed by hungry mosquitoes, i brought out the can of bug repellent and sprayed myself completely. that kept the mosquitoes at bay, but they followed me pretty much the entire time i was in the woods, buzzing in my ears, constantly trying to find weaknesses in my deet-fence. despite the repellent, i still got bit a few times, mostly on my shoulders, right through my t-shirt. all things considered, i think i was lucky, because i spent some time walking around the edge of a large vernal pool that seemed to be a mosquito breeding ground. mosquitoes weren't the only danger: i found a few wood ticks clinging onto my jeans, which then made my paranoid the rest of the time i was there.

there's about 5 miles worth of trails in the assabet river national wildlife refuge but i only did the 1 mile loop. i was hoping to find snakes today but didn't see any. the refuge is mostly woods, nothing terribly special, and a small stream that cuts through the forest, creating some swamp-like pockets, and possibly a few vernal pools. i'll definitely go back again, but in terms of wildlife the area is kind of boring, at least it was today. i did see a shiny green tiger beetle flying around on the trail, but it was too fast for me to get any photos, and then disappeared into the woods. this summer all i want to see are snakes and tiger beetles and more efts. although mushroom season isn't quite here yet, i did find a few species, nothing i haven't seen before other than the earthstars.


yellow slime

british soldiers

little brown mushrooms

painted bolete

green moss
white birch

on the return trip back to the parking lot i left the forest and walked on the paved access road. this was an excellent spot to get good photos of dragonflies. you can't really chase after dragonflies, you sort of have to identify their territory and wait at a spot for them to perch. i also found a new setting on my camera, a 4x zoom combined with a center-focus while still in macro mode, which got very good results.

skimmer (m)

skimmer (f)

calico pennant (f)

eastern pondhawk (f)

spangled skimmer (m)

spangled skimmer (f)

whitetail (m)

unknown skimmer (f)

widow skimmer (f)

on my way back to cambridge i stopped off at the cafe to pick up some patay for dinner. i came home, showered, ate, then headed into boston to meet up with joel and the other writers of bostonist at the beantown pub. i'm an occasional reader and it was really interesting to meet the team. it feels like being in high school and getting introduced to the staff of the school newspaper, and realizing that i could contribute if i wanted to. maybe i can write articles about where to go in the greater boston area to find the best naturing. after a few drinks (i had 2 cokes, one of them i spilled all over the table because that's just what i do), i left with joel, katharine, and josh's wife, grabbing the red line to our respective homes. i came back and was hungry enough that i had some smelly tofu ramen.