Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Spring Regains its Senses
The rocks around Bear's Bathtub
Sweet soft Spring is back at last! After too many too-hot-even-for-summer days, today dawned cool and clear. A perfect day for a paddle, with the sun's warmth feeling welcome, and a bit of a breeze to set the reflections a-shimmer. I carried my canoe down through the woods to launch near Bear's Bathtub, and paddled downstream to Juniper Point, then upstream to Rippled Rocks and around Three Pine Island. Once again, I had the river all to myself, on a day that was made in Heaven.
It's hard to convey what bliss it is, moving through cool dark water, mossy green banks spangled with Bluets, Shadblow floating like clouds amid the surrounding forest. As I slipped along close to shore, the sunlit ripples played on the rocks just under the water's surface. The rocks in this stretch of the Hudson above Sherman Island Dam are really beautiful. A kind of metamorphic rock called "gneiss," they are sometimes striped dark and light, sometimes spangled like granite, sometimes translucent pink or white like quartz. Very "gneiss," indeed. Especially when their colors are intensified by water.
Sunlit ripples play on the underwater rocks
The Early Low Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) are just coming into bloom, as are Round-leaved Gooseberries (Ribes rotundifolia) and a kind of white currant I think must have escaped from someone's garden. I gather handfuls of their luscious fruit in summer, when it dangles over the water as I paddle by. Sometimes I find a few blueberries, but never have I tasted a wild gooseberry. The birds always get them long before they're ripe.
Early Low Blueberries have clustered white blossoms
Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis) was in full bloom, nestled among the boulders close to the water.
I beached my boat to explore the woods around Juniper Point, but there wasn't much woods today. I don't know why the water was so high. We've had little rain this spring and the snow melted long ago, but in all the low spots today, the river flooded way back into the woods. I did find some Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) growing along a stream (what an unpleasant-sounding name for such a pretty plant!).
The pretty white flowers of Toothwort are touched with lavender.
I also found one spindly little bush of American Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), with only a single pair of greenish-yellow blossoms dangling down. This native honeysuckle is the earliest bloomer of its species.
American Fly Honeysuckle, one of our native honeysuckles and an early bloomer