Bog vs. Life

Last Spring, Liev took Wednesdays off from kindergarten. His therapeutically shortened schedule gave him a much-needed rest from the intensity of school. It also gave us time to pursue activities we would not engage in on the weekend due to crowds!.

During an unseasonably warm day in March, we took a trip to Ponemah Bog. The wildlife sanctuary features carnivorous plants and beautiful birds.

We started our excursion with Liev ‘s usual obsessiveness over poison ivy. I fielded poison ivy questions all morning before realizing his real apprehension was over the expanse of elevated planks we had to walk across to reach the floating viewing platforms.

Fortunately, the local kids had provided us with the best anti-anxiety tool ever: graffiti.


The picnic tables near the trailhead featured messages from two individuals who wrote out the number of steps to each viewing platform. This super-charged Liev for the walk. Along the trail, faded purple sharpie counted the steps by 50s. For Liev, this was better than candy. He hurtled down the planks with alarming speed and agility.


I breathed in thick air, which smelled of a floral scent best described as Herbal Essence Shampoo. I assumed the lurid green shampoo’s fragrance was entirely synthetic—my mother bought it for me to use as a bubble bath in the 70s. To be surrounded by this distinct fragrance in the bog was surreal.

Thrilled with the step countdown, Liev hopped and hollered, “Take the picture! Take the picture! Please!”   I snapped dozens of countdown markers photos. We eventually reached an intersection. The graffiti artists had left a message for us:


I laughed at their wry humor and contemplated their inscription as I followed T’s bobbing form to the first platform.  I took more photographs and pondered the bog around me.

Beyond the planked walkways plants squeezed together, forming a thick fecund carpet. The jostling of fluted, curling leaves was almost audible. I had the unsettling impression that if I sliced a swath into the roiling plant life, it would heal itself seamlessly before my eyes.


How improbable that this odd carnivorous forest thrived less than ten minutes from our home. I thought of the graffiti artists and imagined them as kindred spirits. Young enough to enjoy the countdown numbers as much as Liev, they were also old enough to appreciate the allure of the wetlands.




Which path to take? A part of me never wanted to step away from this un-manicured crush of strange and colorful plants.

I am grateful to past generations for valuing and preserving beautiful places. I am also grateful to the graffiti artists. By sharing their quirky map, they fed two hungry and eager brains with numbers and introspection.