My husband and I planned to spend an afternoon and evening doing what has become a favorite outing: climbing a short, rigorous rung-and-ladder hike in Acadia to a beautiful pond where we love to swim, grabbing a burrito for dinner, and then heading to our favorite evening entertainment, Improv Acadia, an improvisational comedy group in Bar Harbor. But it being high season in Vacationland, by the the time we called Improv Acadia, that night’s show was sold out. We thought we’d still do the first two parts of our favorite outing, but our dogs looked up at us expectantly, and we deferred to them. Rather than leave them at home and go to Acadia (where they must be leashed), we changed our plans and decided to go canoeing at Otter Bog, a wilderness area about 30 minutes from us.
By the time we got the canoe in the water and cajoled our dogs into the boat, it was 4:30. Perfect timing, as it would mean we’d still be on the pond as the crepuscular animals came out near sunset. Otter Bog has several beaver lodges on it, and lots of old logs covered in sundews. The bog itself has pitcher plants growing all over it as well, and is nestled between small mountains. It’s a wildlife extravaganza, and in addition to the beavers we’ve seen or seen evidence of such megafauna as bears, moose, deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, otters, wood ducks, and many species of song birds, including rare migrating warblers.
Dancing over the surface of the pond were water bugs that my husband named “aquagraphs” because their movements seemed like writing on the water, and periodically a snapping turtle would poke her head above the surface. When we wound our way down the stream that feeds the pond, we ended up in an area that was once a forest before the beavers flooded it to create their home. Long dead but still tall white pines stood high in the water, the largest the former site of an osprey family’s nest. We paused for a time by a massive beaver lodge, and my husband began looking at a piece of thick grass poking out of the water. There were tiny worms crawling through the grass, and fortunately I had brought my “microglass,” the name I gave the high-powered magnifying class that my husband had had for years and which he gave me last year for my birthday. Not only could I watch these worms slithering through this piece of grass, but I also saw planaria! I’d never seen planaria (non-parasitic flatworms) outside of high school biology.
As we meandered back around 6:30, the beavers let us know they were not happy about our appearance on their pond. One in particular slapped his tail repeatedly, seeming to say “Get out of here!” We complied, but not all the beavers seemed to mistrust our canoe. Some just swam on by looking our way.
At dinner that night, I told my husband that if there was one item I would consider selling, it wouldn’t be organic cotton clothing, or fair trade chocolate, or some other seemingly MOGO product; it would be these amazing magnifying glasses. Lasting a lifetime, they offer a glimpse into a world so magical and amazing: our world. If every family had such a “microglass” and used it frequently out in the wild, it’s hard to imagine we wouldn’t do everything in our power to protect this mysterious, awesome planet.
As I’ve said before, please go outside, for yourself and the world.
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
Image courtesy of Tom Gill (lapstrake) via Creative Commons.
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