Thursday, 12 January 2012

UP THE NEPIGON by Elizabeth Taylor Part three

Be Still Thy Heart this was written for Harper's Magazine in 1889.


The gray reindeer lichens.

The mile portage that brings one to the shores of Lake Nepigon, along the western route - that taken by the Hudson's Bay Company packers - is over great rocks, most of the way, covered with a mingled growth of blueberries, red raspberries, the running or swamp raspberry, Spiranthes or ladies tresses, white pyrolas and the Potentilla tridentata, or three-fingered cinque-foil, in great profusion, the leaves of the latter already turning scarlet, and making a beautiful contrast with the large patches of reindeer moss.

There is not a great variety in the flora of the Nepigon. I found only forty-five varieties, but most of these grew in great abundance. At one portage the path was lined with a continuous growth of the Clintonia borealis, and the dwarf cornel still gleamed white in its bed of moss, though it was the middle of August. as for the twin-flower, the Linnaea borealis, how it must fill these woods with fragrance in its time of blooming.! The delicate trailing vines completely covered the ground in some places, and here and there I could see the swinging pink and white bells making their presence known by the perfume that the wind brought me.

Twin flower

I found the round -leaved white orchid, with the northern green orchid growing near by, and the ladies-tresses were very common. On the shores of Lake Nepigon I saw the grass of Parnassus; the flowers were large, and - a new feature to me - beautifully veined  with lilac.

the flower of the Nepigon that ranks first, as the kingfisher does among the birds, is the great willow-herb, the Epilobium angustifolium.

The great will-herb or Fire-weed as we call it . This is close up of flower on the stalk.

The portages are gay with its spikes of pink blossoms; it grows to the very water's edge and trails down the swift current, and at sunset the rosy clouds seem reflected alike on land and water.

Growing on the overhanging rocks in secluded nooks above the rapids, I often found the graceful northern fern, the Aspidium fragrans, and traced it by the delightful spicy perfume. It grew luxuriantly, sending up many long, delicate fronds out of a tuft of the last year's chaffy growth. The common polypody, or rock fern, generally accompanied it, while at the base of the rocks, in the damp, mossy earth, the Labrador - tea grew in thick clumps.

This is the blossom of the Labrador - tea .
 Ms. Taylor would have just seen the leafy bushes by mid-August.

This article will continue in Part Four. She has reached Lake Nipigon and the next part is of her crossing.

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