A time honored autumn family tradition is a trip back in time to the Triangle Lake Bog in Central Portage Country. This little bog is a jewel thrust right in the middle of familiar rolling Ohio landscape. Triangle lake is a text-book example of a kettle bog--a remnant of the glaciers that receded this area 12 thousand years ago, which left this Canadian specialized ecosystem filled with strange botanical offerings you're not likely to stumble on a typical Ohio's day hike. The deep dark acidic pool of the bog was created when a large glacial remnant, wedged in the out wash, melted. Deciduous evergreens, known as tamaracks, guard the edges of the bog. The tamaracks look prehistoric to me, as though a brontosaurus might suddenly peek his head over the yellowing tamarack tops. The bog edges are slowly being filled by the sphagnum mat. The bog is a well protected Nature Preserve in which a single lane road leads to small parking lot. I think this gem is a rare one, for we've never encountered another person on our bog excursions. A short board walk meanders through the strange botanical landscape of pitcher plants, poison sumac, high bush blueberries, and cranberry mats.
I have my son to thank for introducing me to Triangle Lake Bog. He became fascinated with carnivorous plants when he was very young. Several years ago the Beacon Journal featured Triangle Lake in it's Saturday "Places to Go" feature. I'm sure you've all seen those bags of sphagnum peat moss at the garden center, but I was ecstatic to see a live sphagnum mat covering the edges of the bog. It looks soft enough to sleep on. I had no idea what wild cranberries looked like. We've come to the bog in all it's seasons, but fall is my favorite to witness the cranberries dotting the low bushes like candy. I like to see the cranberries in flower during summer (the flowers look like white cranes in flight), but the mosquitos of the bog eat us alive, so we're partial to fall.
Even cooler than the cranberries are the giant carnivorous pitcher plant that remind me of alien bouquets of phallic objects. I'm sorry...but I just can't look at those plants without thinking phallic thoughts. As odd as they look, you've got respect a plant that has evolved to catch bugs in it's death trap funnel. Look closely inside the pitcher and you can see the downward facing hairs that will impale any insect trying to escape, and callously drown him in the water filled pitcher. It's carnivorous capabilities evolved in response to nutrient deprivation, so they turn to bugs for some meat, rather than wrench them from the junk calories of the bog. My son, over the years, has cared for pitcher plants, sundews, and venus fly traps. Most boys attempt care of a venus fly trap at one time or another. They usually die, from lack of humidity, yet my son has managed to keep the same ones alive for years and plants their seeds to propagate new ones. It's his really cool hobby that I've enjoyed spectating.