I was ready to head up to our new home in Maine. My spouse had gone before me to start his new job, while I finished up some loose ends at my full time job. I was now retired from two jobs, my Naturalist Program was complete and I was ready to go. And then I discovered that the Naturalist Program required a face to face meeting for “graduation” scheduled out another week. I really did not want to sit around in an almost empty house for another week, so my coordinator and I decided that my contact hours of graduation would be spent hiking the southern section of Caleb Smith State Park Preserve.
The northern section of Caleb Smith is open to all, offering numerous trails and a variety of scheduled events.But the southern section with a wilder appearance is only open to those who have acquired a permit, usually fisherman wishing to test their skills on the Nissequogue River. Since my coordinator is a member of the “Friends of Caleb Smith Park”, he obtained the necessary permissions for us to explore this side of the park. The southern section of the preserve runs adjacent to Blydenburgh County Park, separated by a fence. Therefore, we agreed to meet in the parking area for Blydenburgh County Park in order to reach the gate that would provide access to this secret place.
While I waited for my guide, I admired the old Blydenburgh Estate. The estate and mill complex seems to have been built in the early 1800s, and there was much history on display here to keep me occupied. I was also fascinated by the artistic arrangement of shelf fungus on one particular Black Walnut tree. This display would have kept me amused for quite some time but my mentor soon appeared disrupting my reveries.
We soon arrived at the gate and entered unexplored territory. We paced along a wooded trail, disturbing a deer pausing to observe its surroundings. Along the way, we spotted a triple growth tulip tree which towered to an impressive height.
After a short time, the path began to follow the river and we paused from time to time to study our surroundings. The differences in our naturalist talents complimented each other. My mentor would spot a movement in the trees, reach for his binoculars and try to identify the almost impossible to see bird in flight; a heron perhaps rising from the river. I would find some unusual plant that piqued my interest and was pleased when I could confidently identify the dayflower for my guide. We were both intrigued by the grass like plant with golden spikes that we located near the pond. Neither one of us had expertise in non-flowering vegetation but we appreciated its beauty just the same.
After an hour or two of exploration we ended our tour back at the Blydenburgh Manor House, where we said our farewells and I made plans for my trip to Maine.