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.