Thursday, January 10, 2008

New England Jaunt

Digital/reprocessed / copyright me!

Just returned from a pretty short but fulfilling trip to New England. A farmer (family has owned the property since the 1650s - the house above was built prior to 1660), in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited and the Federal government, would like to restore a field to a seasonally flooded wetland. This type of restoration project, which used to be called "moist soil establishment" by waterfowl managers, encourages the growth of wetland plants that ducks love to eat, then allows the area to flood during winter, so the ducks can swim around the plants. As the plants rot in winter and the ducks switch their diet over to protein-rich bugs and snails, the plants provide places for those bugs and snails to live.

In the winter these sites look like this:

In the summer, they look like this:

Yes, fellow bio-nerds, I know that a sedge meadow (pictured above) is a PEM1B, while a moist soil impoundment (first picture) is a PEM1C(h). Ya got me there. How 'bout this: "Pictures are for illustration only."

Anyway, it was great to share my experience with these types of projects with the guys up north - they were really interested and receptive! But, my trip was great on another front - I hadn't been back to the New England coast since an (ill-fated) surfing trip to RI and MA at least 5 years ago. I forgot how much I love the landscape and the history and the very real people. Not so different from the people I grew up with on the coast of VA. OK, maybe a little different.

It was great to get a northern dose of colonial history....seeing everything from Venture's Stone ( ) to CT's Continental (Army) Marsh, which supplied Washington's army with hay for the horses during their northern expeditions. I even got to try a new beer - Harpoon Old Salt....which apparently is just an alias for Harpoon UFO. Not super impressive. However, I did get to have fresh Atlantic oysters (from PEI, not Del or Ches Bay for a change!!!), fresh chowder, and fresh fried clam bellies. SWEET. Now it's back to work in Maryland....

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