Bog Trip

No school for 13-year-old, day off for 19-year-old, no snow yet, and November’s scant light: I fold up my laptop and, impromptu, declare we’ll visit Chickering Bog.

We follow a path through the woods, our boots brushing through fallen maple and ash and cherry leaves, then through a stand of tamarack where the dirt path is scattered with tiny gold needles. On the easy walk, the girls chattered, moving quickly against the damp, the three of them in their black down jackets and myself in turquoise. We’re not far from the world from houses and cars, yet the forest folds around us. I’ve been walking in various New England forests since I was a child, and although this particular path isn’t familiar, the woods are — filled with both that allure of what’s around that next bend or behind that glacial erratic? and, simply, the woods’ loveliness.

The path leads up to what’s more properly a fen. The boardwalk takes us near the middle where the girls find cranberry-red carnivorous pitcher plants. Beneath our boots lies the thousands-of-years-old mysteries of peat. And over our heads, all that sky.

A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the Beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden


Calais, Vermont