Thursday, April 16, 2009
Out on the River at Last!
A new year on the Hudson starts with a paddle out to Woodcock Island
Small flies danced above the water, catching the brilliant sunlight, filling the air with what looked like confetti. A most appropriate image, for it was HAPPY NEW YEAR ON THE RIVER!!! Yup, today the canoe came out of cold storage and into cold river water. Clear, sparkling, fresh, and delightful, carrying me to another world I hadn't visited since late last fall.
Red female Alder flowers perch above the dangling male catkins
The wind was a little brisk, but I found serene paddling close to the shore. Here Alder and Sweet Gale, just starting to bloom, leaned over the water, the Alder catkins dangling and swaying like those ornaments in a geisha's hair. Tiny rills tumbled down mossy banks and splashed with a happy chuckle into the river. A little brown bird hopped among rocks by the water; colored the same as the leaves he flitted among, he kept just out of reach of my eyes. And of my ears, as well. When he hopped and fluttered about, he didn't snap a twig nor rustle a leaf nor riffle the air with his wings. Was it a thrush of some kind? I couldn't really tell. Then I heard the heart-breakingly beautiful song of the Winter Wren, fluting and trilling and just going on and on, longer than any other birdsong I know, and so sweet you can hardly believe your good fortune to hear it. And then I startled a pair of Wood Ducks idling along the banks. Of course, they would not sit still for a photo (is there any duck more gorgeous?) but took off flying across the river, crying hoo-eee, hoo-eee, hoo-eee, hoo-eee.
Lots of other good stuff, too. On Woodcock Island I found Sweet Fern, its new catkins curving against the curling stem, and also a hole in the bank that could be an otter's home. Black Huckleberry buds were fat and pink, and Sassafras buds swelled on twigs that were as green as lime Jello. Hophornbeam catkins danced at the ends of branches, and slender Beech buds gleamed in the sun as if they were made of copper. Even some of the winter's remnants were pretty: the Mountain Azalea shrubs appeared to still hold blooms, the bracts of last spring's blossoms curled and golden.
Remnants of last spring's Mountain Azalea still cling to the shrub
Wow! What a day! And only the first of many. I am such a lucky lady to have such a world of treasures around me. And I don't even have to buy a ticket.
Here's a passage by e.e. cummings that kind of sums it up:
I thank you god for most this amazing day
For the leaping greenly spirits of trees
And a blue true dream of sky and for everything
Which is natural which is infinite which is yes