in the first break of good1 weather we'd had in a long time, i took the opportunity to go out and do some naturing. i haven't gone out at all in june; the last time i went naturing was almost a month ago, when i went to upper mill brook reservation in wayland. that trip was memorable because it was my first outing with a (borrowed) wide angle lens. i also discovered some gaywings, a flower i'd never seen before. this time around i had my own wide angle lens and had a mission to do some fernspotting.

i ended up picking hamlen woods in wayland, managed by a joint venture between various local conservation groups (sudbury valley trustees, wayland town conservation). i printed out a trail map and packed up my stuff. first stop was to get some gas, then onwards to belmont, where i accidently left my bug spray2 (don't want to visit a swamp without it).

since i travel light, i don't have room to bring a road atlas (other than my single sheet printed trail map). that's why prior to leaving, i'm always spending time memorizing my route. i've yet to fail to reach where i'm going but there's been some close calls; there's only so much i can memorize, especially if it's a difficult route. i've learned to reduce my route to a shorthand which i then sometimes write on the back of of hand in case i forget. to get to hamlen woods, the code is 16-30-mainstone-rice (route 16 to route 30 to mainstone then rice). i don't recall ever taking route 30 west before, cutting across the auburndale area in newton before passing through weston to wayland. the roads were pretty calm, nothing scary like the stretch of route 2/2A where i'm competing with serious highway traffic.

when i arrived at hamlen woods, i was greeted by a large hidden parking lot off of the side of the road. i'd never been here3 before, but i liked what i saw. right by the parking area was a large open swamp covered in duck weed. apparently i wasn't the only one out partaking some nature, as i spotted 3 parked cars. i sprayed on some bug repellent before making my way into the woods.

it didn't take long for me to meet my first human, a man walking a toy dog. he was leaving though, so that's a good sign. a short wooden footbridge crossed the northern tip of lower old wayland reservoir. here i met another person, an elderly man with a camera walking his dog. he too was leaving. still later i met the third and last person, a man walking out with a fishing pole. so in the space of 15 minutes i had hamlen woods all to myself.

although the reservation is only about 80 acres, it didn't seem that small. in addition, i only limited my exploration to the areas around upper old wayland reservoir. a small gap connects the 2 reservoirs together and an elevated shrub path bisects upper and lower bodies of water. i spotted an unidentified pike resting in the calm waters of the upper reservoir. at the far end of the path, a granite peninsula juts out into the lower reservoir. pine trees grow on this lump of rock, covering the ground with soft red pine needles. this area was so thoroughly picturesque, i actually took time to sit down and admire the scenery. down below in a cozy cove there appeared to be the makings of a lilypad nursery.

from the peninsula i made my way clockwise around upper old wayland reservoir. up to that point i'd already spotted a few different fern species. coming into the woods alone, the two most common ferns were large cinnamon ferns and the smaller more delicate hay-scented fern. i also came across some royal fern (always found near water) and some sensitive ferns.

around the reservoir, below a granite cliff, there were a few more species of ferns. on the rocks were polypody (my favorite fern, found only on rocks) and marginal wood ferns (the same kind growing in my parents' backyard). down below were interrupted ferns, so called because the spores grow in the middle of the fronds. and the one fern i came across by complete accident was the lady fern. they look a lot like the more common hay-scented fern, but they're slightly bigger and flipping them over revealed very unique sori.

being near the water's edge means dragonflies and damselflies. i saw some ebony jewelwings, always a favorite, although hard to photograph because they appear black (even though they're metallic green-blue) and usually are found in the shadows hanging around forest streams. i also came across a fragile forktail (male), a first for me.

some random flowers:

came across a flowering plant i'd never seen before, the shinleaf. a member of the wintergreen family, i couldn't find too much info about it online, but my audubon society wildflower guide said the plant contains a drug similar to aspirin and was used on injuries as a pain-reliever.

i left hamlen woods around 3:30. when i got back home, i got a call from john asking if i wanted to go see drag me to hell. we tried going last night but i wasn't home until late in the evening so it didn't happen. originally he attempted to score some corporate baseball tickets for tonight but they were all taken. i met john at the boston common theatre around 7:00 for the 7:40 showing.

drag me to hell wasn't originally on my summer movie radar. i knew it was directed by sam raimi, returning to his horror movie roots, and had been getting some surprisingly good reviews. john wanted to see it because of his fear of hags; apparently he was looking for some kind of exposure therapy. although i was joking when i suggested it, john ended up buying a pair of movie theatre hot dogs, the kind that'd been rolling underneath a heat lamp for god knows how long.

drag me to hell is indeed one of the better horror movies i've seen in a long time. nowadays, horror movies are either slasher films, torture porn, or more psychological thriller than through horror. this film is true horror of the finest quality. not only is it scary, but it's also fun. all the ingredients are just right: the perfect story (a 3 day gypsy's cursing ending in a trip to hell courtesy of a demon), the correct amount of grossness (hag plus an ongoing joke of disgusting foreign matters entering the mouth), and a dash of comedy where appropriate to break the tension. there's even a titillating fan service wet t-shirt scene in a rainy graveyard for those still not ready to go see this movie. alison lohman plays christine brown, a bank employee doomed by a disgruntled old gypsy woman when she failed to get an extension on her overdue mortgage payments. word on the street is lohman was a last replacement for ellen page when page backed out of the moving due to scheduling conflicts. i haven't seen too much of lohman; i remember she was in a movie with nicholas cage, and seemed to be an up-and-coming young starlet who quietly disappeared. but she is perfectly cast for the role, not too pretty too be unbelievable, but not attractive either that you can't help but to sympathize with her plight. and what a plight it is! her 3 days of demonic torment becomes a rollercoaster ride for the audience. much of the horror is implied: a diabolical shadow pans across the room, or strange noises appear at inopportune times. even a floating handkerchief becomes something terrifying several times in the film. raimi is a master craftsman of horror films (darkman, evil dead trilogy) and really puts on clinic as to how to make the perfect scary movie. here's hoping that he continues making them for the foreseeable future.

john had his bike but we took the subway back to cambridge. not having had dinner yet, we went to anna's tacqueria so i could grab a burrito. new on their menu is lengua (tongue), which is what i got.

1 my definition of good weather is anytime where it doesn't rain and warm enough to ride my motorcycle.

2 i prefer picaridin over DEET. it doesn't seem as poisonous and doesn't eat through plastic the way DEET does. i use cutter advanced outdoorsman, which has 15% picaridin. i spray just my hands and all over my head area including neck (i spray some on my hands and rub it in my face). i then put on a windbreaker, even if it's hot. this is to prevent the mosquitoes from biting through my t-shirt. since it'd require too much bug repellent to completely cover my torso, front and back. fortunately, the areas that have the most mosquitoes are usually shady, so it hasn't been a problem. picaridin repels mosquitoes, even after i've been sweating for a few hours.

3 it was later i discovered the dark history of hamlen woods. according to an old article i found online, in 1988 a wellesley man brought his 6-year-old son here and slit his throat.