Sometimes we are in the mood for a macro-beauty kind of paddling outing, and at other times micro beauty is the preference. For macro, we might seek out the Alpine scenery at Kezar or Flagstaff lakes, or enjoy a weekend getaway exploring the lakes around Baxter State Park.

On a recent Sunday morning, we felt like micro and headed up I-95 at dawn to the Newport area for a two-hour poke around the perimeter of Little Indian Pond, with flower and bird identification guides at the ready. The pond is three miles in circumference, and Ripley Stream to the north provides another mile of exploring.

For the most part you can paddle right next to the shoreline. On a few occasions, we paddled out around dense mats of pickerelweed, and then back to the shore. The forest is far removed from the pond, so there’s a bounty of flowering bushes, and a variety of brilliantly colored bog plants and flowers to enjoy. We felt like we were paddling in a giant petri dish, with the array of botany providing the lip. Loon calls echoed across the pond, and we spied a pair of loons drifting along with a small youngster between them. We heard the cry of an osprey somewhere behind us, and looked back to see a bald eagle swoop down and try to pluck something off the surface. It came up empty and disappeared into the trees beyond the far shoreline.

Pink and blue dot the greenery around the pond. Much of the pink is supplied by prolific clusters of bog laurel flowers, and the blue is courtesy of blue flag iris, which for us has always symbolized the arrival of summer in Maine. But there are other suppliers of pink around the pond; swamp rose was in full flower, and the dainty light pink flower heads of rose pogonia emerged up out of tussocks of moss and peat.

We almost paddled by a striking orchid but put on the brakes, hastily backpaddled, and braced the canoe for up-close examination and picture taking. My wife thumbed through our wildflower guide and gleefully exclaimed, “It’s grass pink.” It was the first time either of us had seen it. Grass pink is also known as meadow gift and we could see why. It was absolutely beautiful in its brilliant pinkish-blue color, and sporting its bee-attracting beard.

We have a fondness for tamarack trees, and Little Indian Pond has many of them poking up out of the marsh grasses. They looked like green pipe cleaner men, each twisted at odd and entertaining angles. The tamarack, also known as larch, is the only evergreen tree that drops its needles in the fall after turning a radiant yellow. A few short cedar trees had wide weathered gray trunks reminding us of miniature versions of the famous bristlecone pines of California and Nevada, some of which are 3,000 years old.

A few pitcher plants rose out of the soft mounds of grass and sphagnum moss, looking like tall red lollipops along the shoreline. They are striking through the seasons, and like a chameleon changes colors as the months move on. Spring brings a lime green color to the flower heads. Right now they are a deep raspberry color. By October we will enjoy a soft brown color as their seedpods dry and open up.

Floating bur reed leaves lie gently on the water, undulating like a wheat field in the wind. They appear as thin neat rows of light green holiday tinsel. They were mesmerizing in the early morning sunlight. Dragonflies and tree swallows darted here and there. Yellow warblers dashed from bush to bush.

The two hours flew by and we headed back toward our vehicle. The tunnel leading under the road into Indian Pond looked inviting, so we ducked our heads and floated through and out into the light once again. Indian Pond is four miles long, and there are a lot of cottages on its western side. We paddled along the wild northeastern shoreline for 20 minutes.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map 31) for help in getting to the town of St. Albans via Route 43 west out of Corinna. There is no official boat launch, but there is a short access lane that leads down to the pond from the Melody Lane-Ripley road. Park on either side of the road.

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses and schools.

Contact: [email protected]

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