Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keeping company with Balsam Fir at Algerine Swamp Natural Area March 29th, 2020

Balsam fir branching pattern
I spent some time at the south-west corner of Tioga county, PA this-afternoon in the Algerine Swamp Natural Area. It was most definitely worth the visit! Below is my reflection of today's experience along with some photos and a video.

At the edge of thick balsam forest
All is quiet at the Algerine Swamp. A stillness fills the air and it is unlike any place else around here. Perhaps it's the unique character that balsam fir contributes to this forest community. The balsam fir, with its stiff yet not spiky vibrant green needles splayed outward on either side of each branch, dark brown bark speckled all over with light gray lichen, and conical profile with narrow pointed crown is clearly a species representative of the far north.  What joy to spend an afternoon in a boreal bog this far south in latitude!

In the midst of this spruce-fir forest, balsam fir pressing in against my jacket on all sides as sweet balsam fragrance fills the air; in my mind I am transported to the Adirondacks. Though its a stretch of the imagination, I feel just as likely to meet a boreal chickadee as a black-capped, and a black-backed woodpecker as a hairy.

Today I thank God for you, my wild neighbor, balsam fir; for you are my mental and emotional retreat to wild spaces far removed. As you press in on me from all sides in this thick forest, all of my present fear, worry, and anxiety is pressed out. Where to? I don't know; but I'm thankful for the way that the one who is the personal embodiment of the Source of Divine Creativity ministers to me through the gift of wild spaces; through the gift of balsam fir today.

This is a place to cherish and protect for the sake of the inhabitants of this boreal bog as well as those who may visit, to know the sense of community and tranquility of mind and heart that I experienced today.
Balsam fir profile
Balsam fir bark
Balsam fir end bud

Here is a short video clip from the Algerine swamp:

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