It is amazing that even though I am in my fifth year here, I am still seeing new things. These sightings of new things can be everything from a pattern of yellow-bellied sapsucker holes on a tree that I have walked past many times, to a new butterfly, bird, animal, or flower.
A few days ago, I was paddling down the Granite River on a day trip and noticed a plant with a purple spike of flowers nestled between two giant, precambrian boulders. Next to this plant were swamp candles, and on top of the boulders were a incredible amount of blueberries. A wide variety of lichens covered the rocks themselves.
I noticed that it was very different from the purple flower most common at this time of year, the fireweed or great willow herb. This new plant not only had different leaves, but individual flowers that looked like a combination of an angel and a ghost, complete with wings, spread out feet, a lighter face, and dark red eyes. This incredible plant turned out to be the purple fringed orchid.
As you travel down the various trails of life, even if thise trails are very familiar to you, don't forget to be observant of everything around you, and you will be pleased at what you find.
Gunflint Lodge Naturalist