Wildflowers at Lake Surprise

A spontaneous after-work wander

It’s a little cooler today, and later in the day, abutting on evening, when my partner came home a little earlier than usual on a night I wasn’t teaching. He spends his day walking around suburban yards, but I spend mine trapped at a desk in our apartment, aside from my half hour of midday yoga, so I’m happy for anything that gets my Fitbit to more than a thousand steps in a day.

Still, it was already six o’clock and still in the eighties, so I wanted something short, flat, close and shady, maybe with a water feature…? Which is how we came to aim our car towards the Lake Surprise Loop in the Watchung Reservation (again, not a reservation, borrowed Native Lenape name notwithstanding, but a nature preserve).

Long and thin, relatively shallow and hemmed in with waterlilies and undergrowth, it’s not a particularly exciting or remarkable site at first glance.

There are nice, long picnic tables at intervals all along the lakeshore, built of rough cement in a style that suggests it could have been a Civilian Conservation Corps project from the Great Depression. The city has also lain out evidence that this was once a far more of a summer destination.

At the far end of the lake is a dam, and that’s where we had the most pleasant surprise of the walk: an array of wildflowers (and you know how I love me some wildflowers!)

(I have this great new app called PictureThis that will let me pull up a picture of a flower on my phone, or just hold up the camera to the flower or leaf, and the app will tell me what it is!)

The return trip back up the left side of the lake was less open, more woodsy, with thicker understory, muddier, and with lots of poison ivy right up along the edges of the narrow path, but all in all, it was a lovely short after-work walk (and not too crowded, either).

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