Sunday, July 5, 2009

Noisy Day on the River

Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens) is coming into bloom this week along the Hudson River.

At last! An absolutely gorgeous day! Bright sun, blue sky, white puffy clouds, a bit breezy but not enough to dissuade me from hitting the river. Me and a zillion others.

I don't believe I have ever seen my stretch of the Hudson so crowded with boats as it was today. Unfortunately, not just with paddlers. Or nice quiet fishing boats. No, today we were blasted by hornet swarms of Jet Skis, tearing around in circles to make the biggest wakes possible, roaring up and down the river, completely drowning out the songs of birds or the sighs of breezes in the trees. Beer and soda cans bobbed on the waves, bait boxes littered the shore. Thank God the holiday weekend is now behind us. Tomorrow my lovely river will be all mine again. And the forecast is for rain.

Lighten up, Jackie, you had a fine paddle anyway. Yes, indeed, I did.

I revisited the chestnut trees and found the blooms had opened in fuzzy fragrant plumes. There were at least two in bloom along the river, each buzzing with bees, so maybe some cross-pollination will happen this year and the nuts will be fertile. Since the chestnut blight has eliminated this tree from American forests, it would certainly be cause for celebration if some scions that spring from old stumps were to live long enough to reproduce.

I next stopped to prowl a sunny, sandy shore where Narrow-leaved Vervain (Verbena simplex) was in bloom. This is a smaller, lighter-blue vervain than the much more common Blue Vervain. The plant is endangered or extirpated in several surrounding states, and this isolated spot along the Hudson River is the only place I have ever seen it. Ten years ago I found just one plant, but now it has spread to a dozen or more and seems to be thriving. Hurray! (It won't like the oily wash from those Jet Skis, though.)

The banks above that same sunny shore were covered with Black Raspberry bushes. With ripening fruit. Yum! I left a few so I could take a photo.

I got a real surprise at the spot I went next, a low-lying beaver-cleared area around where a stream flows into the river. Here, after wandering around through waist-high sedge, bright Swamp Candles, and pretty blue Monkey Flowers, I found gorgeous Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in bloom, a good two weeks earlier than I'd ever found it before. By the end of July, this dazzling plant will be found all up and down the banks. I certainly wasn't expecting to see it today. Some joy to balance my annoyance over those noisy boaters.


Tim Koppenhaver said...

River traffic on July 4th is like full pews on Easter Sunday... back to normal by the next week.

Nice photos. What equipment do you use?

Anonymous said...

Cardinal candles are beautiful. I have never heard of or seen these flowers before. Isn't it amazing. How many lifetimes does it take to learn everything that there is in this world.

suep said...

well you should have seen Walden Pond on Sunday - it is a popular beach visit for folks from Boston. The state reservation was actually CLOSED not just to cars but they were not even letting pedestrians in!
More on that later -
heading for a paddle on the Sudbury River.
ps things here are actually a week or two behind moreau, plant-wise. They have had lots of rain in the last two weeks.

Woodswalker said...

TIM, what an apt comparison! And the river WAS back to serene normal today. Hurray! My camera is a Canon PowerShot G7 point-and-shoot. Sometimes it frustrates me enormously because it won't focus on what I want it to, and I throw away 20 shots to get just one I like. But that's the beauty of digital, isn't it? A better camera would be bigger and need two hands to focus. I'm usually using one hand to hold my boat steady, so I need a one-handed camera. Thanks for asking.

ABE, I never saw Cardinal Flowers until I lived in NY. And they are amazing to behold! Such a saturated red, the camera can't capture it. As to learning new stuff? There truly is no end to the marvelous.

SUE, I hope your pilgrimage to Walden Pond won't be spoiled by the crowds. Mid-week will surely be more serene.