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The dark shadowy foreboding of a northern white-cedar swamp easily lures one into its soft verdant dampness. Life awakens in abundance in the warm spring sunshafts sifting through the feathery scale-like evergreen cedar leaves above. I can't describe the clean pungent smell of tangy freshness from the ragged reddish cedar bark heated by sunshine.

It only takes a moment to hear the first buzz of a fuzzy wonder on the floor of the swamp.

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shy dappled sunstreaks
uncurl soft lacey green sails
in early morning
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Marsh fern Thelypteris palustris

A young green frog calls 'gung-gung-gung' like strumming on a loose banjo string. He watches me suspiciously while posing in his pool of bubbly pond scum.

IMG_1695 Rana clamitans melanota

Entwined cedar twins share their united roots as a permanent family entanglement of a far left leaning or center right. But, they're just trees.

IMG_1791 Thuja occidentalis

High overhead in a small pocket of canopy still waiting for new leaves, a buttery yellow warbler with narrow cinnamon breast streaks is singing his heart out. I whisper a hearty amen at the end of his joyous spring hymn. He flits to the next branch and begins his sweet song anew.

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Setophaga petechia

Amphibian heaven on earth and paradise, too.

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There's a reason it's called skunk cabbage, but I only see lovely lush foliage leaves.

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Symplocarpus foetidus

At the fringe of the cedar swamp bushy clusters of grey dogwood stand as sentinals with bursts of white petals and pale yellow stamens.

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Cornus racemosa

Dried female ament fruits hang like ornately carved ornaments from the speckled alders in the thicket...

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Alnus incana

and the smallest purple explosions pop open, bloom by bloom, if someone notices.

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Black cherry blooms tickle bee bottoms with pollen.

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Prunus serotina

A simple slime mold dazzles the blossoms above with a depth of color saturation that challenges even the boldest sunset.

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The bleached under-bones of upended cedars become a creative sculpture garden in the depths of the swamp.

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Pileated woodpeckers are masters of geometric vertical rectangles.

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Tender new tamarack needles will turn tawny yellow in the frosts of late autumn and be shed in a soft golden blizzard onto the swamp floor. Diciduous conifers stand naked in the cold all winter.

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Larix laricina

A soft refreshing lake breeze drifts into the swamp.  

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Mauthe Lake

In the 16th century, French explorer Cartier named the white-cedar, arborvitae or 'tree of life' after native americans showed him how to use the foliage to heal and prevent his scurvy.

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A life or death moment between preditor and prey. I carefully observed the spar and know the outcome. Ask me.

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Cinnamon ferns unfurl in rippled sunlit shadows.

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Osmunda cinnamomea

If given the choice I'll take the path less traveled and discover what's just around the corner.

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Tamarack Loop Trail

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed May 30, 2012 at 04:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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