as predicted, today was a slow day. and how do i spend my slow days? in the company of mother nature of course. i really wanted to visit the black pond nature preserve in norwell because it's a bog. i didn't realize it but i've actually tried to visit the place 2 years ago, but couldn't find the bog, and almost died in the process. that alone would be worth a revisit (risking my life sounds like fun) but after looking over the directions on a map, i decided it was too far. i ended up going someplace closer, someplace in carlisle, someplace called the great brook farm state park. i've actually been there as well (last fall) but haven't been back in a while, and the place i wanted to visit this time was actually tophet swamp in the southern end of the property. so i got on my bike and headed out there. i navigated partly from what little directions i could remember from looking over some maps, but mostly from memory. i had a feeling i was going in the wrong direction, but the weather was so warm and inviting, i figured if i did get lost, at least i got to enjoy the day riding the motorcycle down scenic new england roads. turns out i was going in the right direction, and after a quick check of a printout map, i found the southern entrance into tophet swamp.
maybe when i decided on tophet swamp i was hoping there might be some bog conditions, but the large area is nothing more than a swamp, and a dry one at that. there doesn't seem to be too much news about it but all this good (dry) weather we've been having has dried up a lot of river beds. i can't remember the last time it rained, it's been that long. there seemed to be a drought at ponkapoag bog, and likewise here at tophet swamp. besides the trail of wet mud (which normally would be a stream of some sort), a lot of area were carpeted in sphagnum moss. i investigated briefly, hoping to see some carnivorous plants, but there weren't any, and i climbed back onto the path in order to avoid the mosquitoes, which weren't very many as well, due to the lack of water.
i followed the tophet loop northwards (sort of misleading, it's more of straight path than an actual loop), to heartbreak ridge. here the swamp hadn't dried up yet, instead a body of water covered in green duck weed with dead trees poking out from the swamp. i saw cedar waxwings hunting for dinner, swooping down and snatching dragonflies out of the air. i stood my ground and took some photos, even though i was worried about getting mosquito bites (i didn't spray). i then kept on going north until i arrived at meadow pond and walked around the edge of the water (under a canopy of tall evergreens, the ground a carpet of soft pine needles), scaring frogs in the process, who'd suddenly jumping back into the pond as i came around.
as the day was getting late, i decided to head back out, retracing my steps. the whole time i only met 3 people, once a single jogger, and twice people walking their dogs. i'd hate to think people using the place as a dog park, but apparently it's okay to ride horses inside the park from the occasional piles of horse droppings littering the trails. right when i was about to come out of the woods i saw something furry on the ground. at first i thought it was a dead mouse, then upon closer inspection, it was either a mole or a shrew, neither animals i've ever seen in the wild, alive or dead. when i came back home i looked it up and realized it's a short-tailed shrew. cool thing about shrews: they're one of the few poisonous mammals and their bites (with sharp tiny teeth), although not fatal to humans, can be quite painful since it's a combination of neurotoxin and hemotoxin.
jawei was already home by the time i got back at 5:30. my mother came by later in the evening along with suhan, bringing with them dinner which we ate together in the living room. after they left, jawei and i watched the end of the red sox game: victory over the bluejays but the price was losing gabe kapler for the rest of the season with a ruptured achilles tendon. at least renteria wasn't in the game to earn more errors (they don't give out prizes for that, edgar) (maybe he can use the time off to grow a defensive moustache) and francona didn't bring in foulke to "close".