Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clean-up Day on the River

Sure, there are landscapes more majestic, more awe-inspiring -- but I can't imagine a prettier spot than the Hudson River at Moreau. Here, forested mountains plunge straight down to an unspoiled shore, and the water runs wide and deep between the Spier Falls and the Sherman Island dams, capturing a vast expanse of reflected sky and receding hills.

As the river approaches the Sherman Island Dam, it branches off to run behind wooded islands, coursing around rocky outcrops and promontories, settling into quiet coves of perfect stillness.
Surrounded by such scenes of exquisite beauty, how could anyone dream of despoiling this place?

But despoil it some folks certainly do, to judge from the bags and bags of trash our crew picked up on a clean-up paddle along the river today. Beer cans and soda bottles, bait boxes and candy wrappers, chunks of styrofoam, propane containers, cigarette lighters, torn tarps and sheets of plastic -- all the typical trash left behind by slovenly campers -- plus one collapsed backyard swimming pool complete with liner (we left it behind for a truck to pick up) and one pair of women's flower-print bikini panties (woo hoo, if this trash could talk!).

If you paddle that stretch of the Hudson this week, you can thank this hard-working crew for the pristine conditions (left to right): Gary, Dave, and Ben (Moreau State Park staffers), plus Laurie and me (I'm down on the water, my huge bags of trash still unloaded).

The park rewarded our efforts with a free wienie roast back at Moreau Lake beach, and when lunch was over I took a quick hike around the lake to check on the lone Black Tupelo tree that grows on those shores. I was gratified to find its trunk wrapped with wire mesh to protect it from the voracious beavers who have girdled just about every other tupelo that grows in the park. (Thanks, Gary!) While strolling along the sandy shore, I came upon a wild party of dozens of coupled dragonflies, dipping and darting in a frenzied dance, the brownish females dunking their tails in the water. I'm guessing they're laying eggs each time. But what a curious copulatory posture! I'll have to read up on how dragonfly sperm finds its way to the female's eggs through the back of her neck.

If you click on this photo, you can see the tip of the female's tail (foreground couple) still holds a drop of water.

One pair lit on a log for a little breather. Sorry to invade your privacy, you guys, but hey, what a curious love life! I just had to look.

1 comment:

Ellen Rathbone said...

It has always boggled my mind why it is that mankind worldwide chooses to dump its trash along rivers and streams. You'd think that we'd know better, since without (clean) water we cannot survive.