A Secret Place

A naturalist friend of mine, who knows that I have this craving to photograph Pink Lady’s Slippers, Cypripedium acaule, has taken me to a special forested area near the Nassau-Suffolk County border.

Pink lady slipper

It is unobtrusive and has no signage. Unless one knows what road to turn off and where to stop and park, one would never notice it. Maybe that’s a good thing…

Pink lady slippers

For a few hours we were the sole human intruders in this old growth forest. Traffic could be heard in the background yet we were very far away!

Pink lady slippers

Pink lady slipper

I was astounded by the size of the trees. Some were hundreds of years old. Five species of oak comprised the forestation: white, black, scarlet, chestnut, northern red oak and a hybrid of white and chestnut…but truthfully, I couldn’t take my eyes off the audacious array of Pink Lady’s Slippers.

Pink lady slipper

The trails were barely discernable, but my friend knew each path…and as we crunched through the fallen leaves I couldn’t imagine where the Lady’s Slippers would be. He knew, however, and pretty soon we were walking on a path that was sprinkled with blooming Pink Lady’s Slippers.

I was in photographer’s heaven right here on Long Island and not all that far from home. He didn’t know that I would give him some 8×10 glossies as a thank you for sharing this secret place with me…

Pink lady slipper

Divulging the whereabouts of places like this so often leads to destruction by people who dig up Lady’s Slippers thinking that they will grow in their own gardens. Lady’s Slippers don’t survive transplanting because they’re dependent on the fungi in this soil. Without it they die.

Pink lady slipper

…and so I freely share my images but not the secret place.

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