Friday, August 8, 2008

Boundary Waters, Part V

Day 5 - July 31

This day passed much the same as that immediately preceding it; in lazy, relaxing recreation. It was our last full say in the Boundary Waters, and we celebrated by doing as little as possible. Perhaps it is now time to discuss wider aspects of the trip, that did not fall on any particular day. One of the most striking and beautiful aspects of the Boundary Waters is the rock. There's just SO MUCH of it.

The Boundary Waters is on the "Canadian Shield," an enormous piece of rock, stretching from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota to Greenland in the north and New York in the east. Although it covers only a fraction of the United States, it covers almost half of Canada. It is covered by only a relatively thin layer of topsoil in most places; thus it is not a center of agriculture; its only serious resources are minerals, and it is sparsely populated. So, long story short, there are truly massive rocks in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, most splinters of the gigantic Shield, but some part of it themselves. By massive, I mean thousand-ton, lichen-covered behemoths.

Something we puzzled on throughout our trip was a strange plant we found in our second campsite, on Baskatong Lake. It was composed of about fifteen greyish-white stalks with blackish flowers on top, set very close together. We at first thought it might was a Fungus, not a plant at all, for several reasons: (1) it was near some mushrooms--Fungi stick together because sometimes they are all connected underground, and because their spores, wind-spread, usually stay close; (2) It wasn't green--as most of you know, chlorophyll makes plants green--so it couldn't have chlorophyll or perform photosynthesis, 99.9% of plants' way of obtaining energy; and (3) it didn't LOOK like a plant. This odd speciment became even more zany when we saw that it was covered with bumblebees--at least two at ALL TIMES. Bees wouldn't be on a fungus, we though--would they?

Another long story short, when we were in Ely, MN on the way home, we bought two excellently-illustrated and informative books, one about the plants of the North Shore/BW area, and one about the Fungi in the same area. It didn't take us long to find what we wanted: It was, in fact, a plant called Indian Pipe. We learned that it was in a parasitic relationship with a certain Fungus (explaining the mushrooms around it); and the fungus itself is parasitic on the roots of the fir and pine trees! I recall saying, "That is SO COOL!" at least five times in the car after learning that ;).

Falling Asleep

As the silent weight of darkness falls,
And the birds of night their sweet haunting calls
And the leaves laugh sleepily in the nocturnal breeze,
We shut our eyes and lie with ease.

After a long day spent under the sun,
My being calls for sleep with every ion.
Whether little or much I've done in a day
The press to attain unconsciousness happens in much the same way.

Head centered on pillow, body prostrate on bed
My mind down the long tunnel of sleep is led
But before I follow, I think and muse
About the day's thoughts, fears, conversations, news.

Finally sleep carries me gently down
And thoughts leave my head as if I'm abdicating a crown.
I journey through the long dark hall
'Til I hear sweet morning's loud clarion call.


Sue said...

I'm really enjoying your journal entries and poems. What a way you have with words, my dear boy!
If readers want to check out Indian Pipe, there's a photo on (gasp!) wikipedia

elisabeth said...

That plant sounds really intresting. Now I want to go to the boundry waters.

madscientist said...

lol same here! i wanna see the plant. but dude ur poetry is awesome!!!! oh and yah. i havent looked at any of the blogs till today.....yah im bad :P

madscientist said...

wow. yes i said i want to see that plant BEFORE i read that there is a link to see it on wiki. wow i feel stupid now lol. but yeah thats an awesome looking plant! :P