July 1980


I TOOK CRAIG HEINDL’S ONE-DAY GEOLOGY COURSE. Craig did his Master’s on glacial and groundwater geology. He now works as a consultant, doing groundwater work for environmental assessments. I took lots of notes. EXCERPTS:  The WHALE found in Charlotte lived in the Champlain Sea 10,000 years ago…. There was an Indian settlement at the north end of Shelburne Pond (current water level is 340 feet, the camp was at 350 feet). Just north of where they were (half a mile), they would have been on the shore of the Champlain Sea….  Flat-topped sand and gravel DELTAS created by rivers flowing into glacial lakes made easy places to build. Two-thirds of early settlements in Vermont were built on the well-drained sandy soil of old deltas. The Burlington Airport is on an old Champlain Sea delta. There’s a huge old delta in south Hinesburg — now a sand and gravel pit — that was deposited by the Winooski River when it was flowing in a different channel. It flowed UP THE HUNTINGTON RIVER VALLEY, ACROSS THE HINESBURG HOLLOW ROAD, and emptied into Lake Coveville at Paul Casey’s Gravel Pit …. No rock as been formed since the glaciers. What we see is all surficial material. After lunch we went to the LAKE MANSFIELD TROUT CLUB and NEBRASKA NOTCH to talk about mountain glaciation.

I climbed Camel’s Hump with Peter Zika today. We flushed a family of RUFFED GROUSE when we first entered the woods on the Burrows Trail. Peter identified a PLANTAIN-LEAVED SEDGE (Carex plantaginia), which I had been calling the mystery sedge. We heard or saw: BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, CANADA WARBLER, CHICKADEE, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, NASHVILLE WARBLER, JUNCOS, SOLITARY VIREO, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER. It took us two hours to get to the clearing. A JUNCO came to look us over while Peter was botanizing. I saw a RED DRAGONFLY in the clearing. Also ANTS, SPITTLEBUGS, BLACK FLIES, GRASSHOPPERS, and maybe CRICKETS. On the summit Peter identified MOUNTAIN SANDWORT. We left the summit at 1:45 p.m. and got to the brook at the bottom of the Forest City Trail at 5:45 p.m. Peter identified a BEARBERRY WILLOW. On the way both up and down we saw WOOD FROGS and TOADS. On the way down we heard a WINTER WREN. Peter spent a long time taking a picture of a TWISTED STALK.

Nature’s vicissitudes are hard on a species that has ceased wandering and fleeing local disasters. But if we can endure the temporary stresses of heat, drought, even the eruptions of volcanos, the Earth will regenerate.

This morning I saw hundreds of small flat spider webs on the lawn and in the grass around the neighborhood.

There were animals on the roads tonight. I hit one — a PORCUPINE, i think — on the Interstate. It was just sitting there in the middle of the highway eating something. I felt terrible about it. When I was almost home I saw two young raccoons in the middle of the hard surface road. Thank goodness I didn’t hit them too.

Tonight the MAYFLIES HATCHED.  I was at the Flourish of Trumpets concert on one of the Lake Champlain ferries, and the MAYFLIES landed all over the ferry and concertgoers — an experience to remember.

The BEAVER POND looks pretty bleak this evening. It’s covered with dust and pollen, and nothing is moving. The pond looks completely inactive. I’ll bet the BEAVERS have moved. No CRAYFISH in the brook either. Nothing anywhere. The Nature Center is looking bleaker and bleaker. On my walks up Sherman Hollow Road, I have noticed flocks of birds — family groups? We seem to have moved into a new phase of summer. I feel it also in the arc of the days — they’re getting shorter already.

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