In fact the whole weekend was wonderful. The expected downpours for Saturday cleared by 8am, in plenty of time for the Asparagus and Flower Heritage Festival. What a lovely day on the West Brookfield Common, and enjoyed by thousands.
After Sunday lunch a group assembled along Route 122 in Oakham to explore the area, especially a bog in the state forest. Along the way we learned about some of the spring flowers out, listened to an ovenbird singing and found a toad along the trail.
We broke off the rail trail onto a side path that leads to the bog. Under water was a circular bowl of mud about a foot and half wide. Turns out that a fish created that area to lay its eggs. Once at the bog edge a purple haze of native azalea was visible out on the bog platform. The water was too high for the whole group to get out in the midst of the floating mat, but we know what to look for on our next visit.
The land trust’s 20th annual membership meeting took place later in the afternoon. We shared great food while looking out over to the Quabbin Reservoir to the northwest. Thanks to Rick and Lisa for hosting us. After a brief membership meeting, Lois and Denis Melican shared the story of the Restoration of the American Chestnut. The chestnut used to one in four of every tree in the northeast. A fungus was introduced in early 1900’s which quickly decimated the tree, forever altering our forests. In the past twenty years dedicated volunteers from the American Chestnut Foundation have been intentionally back-crossing chestnuts working to breed a blight resistant tree that largely includes the genes from American chestnuts.