Lake Carmi Bog

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(HOST) According to commentator Alan Boye, Vermont’s wetlands have a character and beauty all their own – and well worth exploring.

(BOYE) I am walking on a dirt path at Vermont’s Lake Carmi State Park. Instead of walking along the shore of that beautiful lake however, I’m taking a walk along a different kind of natural wonder: Lake Carmi Bog.

When glaciers formed this basin thousands of years ago, Lake Carmi was much larger but ever since then it has been shrinking; the southern end of the lake filling up with silt, and rotting plants and animals. Today the area is a peat bog covering an area the size of six city blocks.

Because of the thick growth and swampy nature of the bog, there has never been much human activity here. It’s one of Vermont’s wildest places. To walk here is to see nature, unencumbered by humankind.

It’s dusk. Out over the lowlands, spindly, dark spruce trees stand out against the fading light. I walk slowly until I find where some animal has made a passageway across the bog. The sedges and thick bushes have been pushed down to form a thin pathway into the underbrush. I step gingerly onto the bog . . .testing the ground to see if it will hold me. It does, but just barely. It feels as if I’m walking on a sponge. I take a few steps and then turn back to more solid ground.

I walk further on the path until I pass some cattails and stop. A crow’s caw-caw comes from somewhere amid the dark spruce trees. Something splashes into the water near my feet. Then, from out of nowhere, a late-season cricket begins to chirp and chirp a lonely little tune.

Because of its unique ecological, geological, and contemplative values Lake Carmi Bog has been designated one of the State’s unique Natural Areas. In addition to birds and animals, the bog is home to pitcher plants, mountain holly, tamarack and hundreds of other species.

I see something ahead of me at the edge of the trail. Like fluffs of down left behind by a child, small patches of light-colored fur litter the ground. I stoop and inspect the fragments . . . something – perhaps a fox – recently caught a meal here. Only a few soft, downy tufts remain, but it is enough to tell a brutal story.

I stand.

Long before my presence in the world this place has stood witness to such cycles of life and death . . . and it shall witness them still long after I have passed.

I turn back toward the campground. As the night closes gently about me I walk in a deep and peaceful contemplation.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury.

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