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.