27 June, 2014

Friday Ramble - Of Orchids and Bears

 Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae)
This rare wild terrestrial orchid of the highlands blooms gloriously in a hidden corner of the Two Hundred Acre Wood, and we guard the whereabouts of its existence jealously.  Only a handful of close friends and companions know where it sends its roots into the fertile muck, puts up spiraling emerald leaves and blooms for a few days in late June.

Clambering down a steep slippery slope in wellies and carrying a whole bag of camera equipment is a perilous undertaking at any time, but there are wonders to be seen down  in the depths late in June.  Now and then there are surprises too.

This week's ramble among the wild orchids was abruptly cut short when I reached a corner of the bog and found myself eye to eye with a truculent black bear about eight feet away, her cub half way up a nearby leaning tree and looking merely curious.  Concealed by deep shadows and flickering light, the two had been invisible until I was almost on top of them. As much as I wanted to stick around and capture a few photos, strategic retreat was the order of the day.  I withdrew slowly (in reverse and keeping my eyes on Mama), leaving the lady and her son (or daughter) to their wanderings in the bug-infested and odiferous swamp.  No wait, the bears were the ones who reeked, at least more so than the vegetation they were clambering about in.

8 comments:

kerrdelune said...

Another rare native orchid, the tiny Ram's-Head Lady's-Slipper also blooms here, but I have yet to find one on the Burnt Lands alvar in Lanark.

Kameshwari said...

Wait! What!!!? You were close enough to smell a bear? Please tell us more. Where was Spencer?

kerrdelune said...

Not much to tell... mother bear was defending her cub and in hostile mode. I got out of there as fast as I could without actually running. Spencer was in the car, and that was a good thing - he would have tried to defend me and gotten hurt. Bears do not smell good in summer - to say they smell rank is putting it very mildly.

christinalfrutiger said...

Wow, that is amazing to have been that close and so glad you got out of there ok. They say there is no wrath like that of a mama bear...worse than a woman scorned. I didn't realize bears smelled quite so bad. Anything to describe it? Just so I'll know next time I go rambling in the woods to retreat if I smell that scent! :) I wonder if it's a gland thing?

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Be Careful...

christinalfrutiger said...

Still waiting to hear what that mama bear smelled like? ;)

kerrdelune said...

I've been trying to figure out how to describe how bears smell in summer, Christina!

The closest I can come to describing the smell is a rancid blend of musk, skunk, wet fur and decomposing bog plants, just a faint whiff of vinegar too. It's very very strong stuff.

christinalfrutiger said...

That's interesting...it must be glandular and or a territorial thing...much like big cats marking their territory? Actually I hope I'm never that close to get a whiff...especially if it's a mama with cubs! :)