Every Step In a Bog is . . . .

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Who among you has ever walked in an ancient acid, spaghnum moss bog? My statistical staff assures me that approximately 0.26% of you have, and ever will. Studying for my B.S. degree at Hunter College (now part of CUNY), bogs may have been mentioned/referenced once or twice, and remained a mystery to this Brooklyn boy. Bogs, bald eagles, beavers, native orchids, ospreys and regal fritillary butterflies? In text books yes, but few among us, in those days, busted-out and hit the road to find far distant fens and true bogs.

Brooklyn boy is now grown, and that Toyota Tundra is very road worthy. New places, new adventures, new friends. Real, Honest to Goodness acidic bogs, 10,000+ years old. Remnants of glaciers long receded, their moss, cranberries, Tamarck pines and other flora now retain a solid acidic pH, that acid environment deters most forms of life, but provides a home to flora and fauna that prefer pH’s lower than 7. Bacteria that exist in other places, cannot readily survive in an acid bog, and that creates fascinating scenes, like this one.

We’re in far western New York State, at a true sphagnum moss bog, owned and protected by the Audubon Society of Buffalo. You’d never find it from the road, some 1/2 mile away, through primitive trail. Bogs endure, but at the same time they harbor rare living things, like the Bog Copper butterflies that we shared with you some weeks ago. Best to keep most folks away, especially those who have their own designs and don’t ascribe the live and let live.

Every step in a bog has your boots (waders?) gently sinking some 2-5″ down, and that, after an hour or more, begins to stress and exhaust your calf muscles, for they must respond/adjust each and every step you take. Barbara Ann here, watched me go off trail at one point, to carefully pursue a Bog copper, only to see me quickly sink down not 5″ but some 20″. Did that alarm me? Uh, well, Um . . . yes, because once that hidden sphagnum moss undermat no longer supports you, well one could go . . . down. How far? Have no wish to know, Truth be Told.

You know, you stand in a bog, and it is entrancing. Unchanged for 12,396 years . . . that’s heady for a man who in his head, is a kid from bricks/mortar/asphalt Brooklyn, New York.

Jeff