Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Defying the Storm
Hazy, hot, and humid. Real summer heat came at last this week, and it's almost August. And I couldn't get to the river all week until today. And just as soon as I got there, what did I hear? Yeah, you guessed it, THUNDER! Oh no, not again! I probably should have turned right around and gone home, but I had such a hunger to get out on that water I decided to risk it. After a week, there had to be new flowers in bloom, and I just had to find them. And you know what? The storms held off anyway, until I was ready to leave.
Here's what the river banks look like now, with such a variety of flowers all crowding together. Let's see, what do we have here? I see Cardinal Flower and Golden Hedge Hyssop, Marsh St. Johnswort and Monkey Flower. Oops! Missed one. There's also one straggly stalk of Blue Vervain. (Click on the photo to see it.)
That's just at first glance. If you could see what I saw by peering closer, there you'd find tiny Clammy Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola neglecta) hiding among the stems of the larger plants.
And here's one you wouldn't have to look hard to find. Bright showy Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) was stealing the spotlight a little further down the bank.
Just a few were blooming today, but within a week or so the river banks will be teeming with them. Before you start popping Benadryl, this flower, despite its name, does not produce allergenic pollen. Like that other showy beauty, Goldenrod, Sneezeweed gets a bum rap. It probably got its name because it blooms the same time as Ragweed, a barely noticeable flower that doesn't need to attract pollinaters because its pollen is tiny and wafts on the air (and up your nose). Sneezeweed's pollen is heavy and needs to be carried away by the bees and other insects its showy flowers attract.
The Black Huckleberry shrubs (Gaylussacia baccata) are pretty showy now, too, with all shades of ripening fruit from green to yellow to pink to dark, dark blue.
And here's some kind of gall on Swamp White Oak. (Or is this Scrub Oak?) It was growing near those huckleberries and almost seemed to mimic their color scheme. At first I thought some kid had spilled Trix on the leaves.
The thunder rumblings were coming close and the wind picked up, so I started back toward the boat launch. But I stopped to save this dragonfly that the wind had knocked to the water. I thrust my paddle under it, and it promptly clambered up. What a handsome striped jacket and jade green tail it has!
The dragonfly held its wings vertically, instead of spreading them out to the sides as they usually do. I wonder if that was because they were wet. I was struck by how iridescent they were. Will they still be so when dry?
It started to rain pretty hard, so I pulled close to shore where the overhanging trees provided shelter. After a bit, the dragonfly shook and fluttered its wings and spread them out to the side. I placed my finger near and it climbed aboard. Then I parked the dragonfly on shore, on a still-dry rock. It then flew off into the storm.
I hurried back to my car and threw my canoe on top, struggling to keep it from blowing off in the wind. That's when I discovered some jerk had stolen my tie-downs. Drat! And I'd just bought new ones! Luckily, the old ones were still in the trunk. I mean, really! Some blankety-blank #!*@#! would strand me like that, with a storm coming on, and just for a couple of straps? I guess when I spend so much time among woodland and riverbank critters, I forget what creeps human animals can be.