Friday, January 9, 2009

Hiking on ice to Juniper Point


Cold and clear after two days of wintry mix.  I hiked down to the river above the Sherman Island dam, to a promontory I call Juniper Point because of what grows there, and today I actually made it out onto the ice.   How could the shoreline change so much in just two days? The water level had risen until it flowed right back into the woods, then a hard freeze, so it was easy to just stroll on out from shore.  Easy, that is, thanks to the cleats on the snowshoes:  the fresh ice was really slick.

With a thin layer of fine new snow on top of  a frozen rained-on crust, the forest floor looked as if it were piled with meringue, white curves and swirls that appeared soft but crunched underfoot, all sequined by tiny crystalline shards blown down from ice-covered twigs.  A high-bush blueberry still had its glaze, the bright red buds glowing through like rubies.
 
There's a marshy bay that runs behind Juniper Point, and ten years ago it was studded with purple loosestrife, not overwhelmed yet, just a dozen or so plants.  I pulled them all out, and each year I pull a few more.  This area -- the marsh, the point, and surrounding woods -- is like a Garden of Eden of native flowers: cardinal flower, jewelweed, sneezeweed, tall coneflower, monkey flower, Joe Pye weed, boneset, closed gentian, sweet flag, meadowsweet, steeplebush, marsh speedwell, lance-leaved goldenrod, bur marigold, blue vervain, golden hedge hyssop, clammy hedge hyssop, false pimpernel, marsh blue violet, bluets, blue flag, blue marsh bellflower, forget-me-not, smooth rose, star toadflax, cowwheat, early saxifrage, fringed loosestrife, yellow loosestrife, sessile bellwort, pink lady's slipper, small purple fringed orchis, slender ladies' tresses,  ditch stonecrop  . . .  that's all I can think of without consulting my flower journals.  All in an area of about one acre.  I wonder how many of them would still be here if the purple loosestrife had taken over.

Funny  how this post started out with a hike on ice and got lost in dreams of summer.  Come, come, Jackie.  Lots of lovely winter left.

I remembered a few more flowers that grow in this amazing place: water purslane, water carpet, watercress, water horehound, dwarf St. Johnswort, northern bugleweed, marsh marigold, swamp milkweed, arrowhead, false hellebore . . . .  Plus flowering  trees and shrubs: spicebush, leatherwood, shadblow, winterberry, buttonbush, elderberry, witch hazel, striped maple . . . .  Not to mention a myriad mosses, sedges, grasses, lichens, ferns, and reeds I don't know the names of yet.  But give me time.

1 comment:

NatureGirl said...

What a great flowering plant list! Some of these are new to me - I must come down sometime and check them out.

I'm glad to see that someone else is out there taking a proactive approach to invasives! Pull away! :)