Thursday, December 31, 2009
A Nature Year in Review
Today, a full year of recording my nature adventures comes to a close. On New Year's Day, 2009, I started this blog, intending to document some of the wonderful natural sites we have right here in Saratoga County, and as I look back over the year's posts, I confess I am thrilled by the many wonders I encountered as I followed the year through its seasonal changes.
I always loved winter, but keeping this blog sent me out on many days when I might have stayed snug and warm at home. The banks and bays of the Hudson River at Moreau were the focus of most of my snowshoe tramps, especially after Moreau Park staffers placed road-kill deer carcasses out on the ice to serve as feeding stations for wildlife. Every day I could read new stories from the footprints and wingprints left in the snow, until all that was left of the deer was a rack of ribs. (Maybe this coming year I will finally get a photo of a Bald Eagle.)
When I couldn't get out to the woods or the river, there were always adventures around the birdfeeders at home, including visits from Sharp-shinned Hawks, who stopped by to dine on the sparrows.
The Hudson River, lovely in every season, was even more so shrouded in mist as the ice receded and the water warmed toward spring.
Oh Spring! How lovely were the mountainsides when the Shadblow came into flower!
The Skidmore Woods soon burst into bloom, with Hepatica leading the way.
The river islands were soon ablaze with fragrant Mountain Azalea.
Late summer brought Mother Nature's garden into full glory along the Hudson banks.
Autumn arrived with its splendid colors.
As autumn waned, the young Beeches held their coppery leaves.
Soon frost was spangling every blade and leaf.
And so we come full circle, as ice and snow cover the Hudson once again.
What wonderful adventures I had! And what a lot I learned! I added about 30 new flowers to my life list, including one that is not supposed to grow in Saratoga County, the diminutive Snow Trillium. A nice patch of them was growing in the Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton. I wonder if Orra planted them?
I followed wilderness guide Vince Walsh through a frozen Greenfield swamp to find a stand of ancient Black Tupelo trees. Eight-hundred-year-oldBlack Tupelo trees! Astounding!
I stood and watched for nearly an hour as a Goldenrod Crab Spider captured and killed a wasp.
I visited Strawberry Fields Forever, a nature preserve where thousands of Fringed Gentians grow.
I saw a bird we rarely see down here, a pretty Snow Bunting flitting about the beach at Moreau Lake State Park.
I explored the amazing Hudson River Ice Meadows with Evelyn Greene, the most expert guide to this site imaginable, who also took me bog-hopping and lost-pond paddling to places I had never seen.
I met Evelyn through a mutual friend, Ellen Rathbone, who writes Adirondack Naturalist, the delightfully informative blog that inspired me to start my own, and so began a friendship with Ellen that continues to bring me joy. In fact, I would say that the very best part of this blogging business is the way it connects us with others who share our love of nature. I'm thinking of Sue and Lindsey and Jackie C., dear friends and knowledgeable companions on the trail who also publish fascinating blogs. I also met the chief botanist of New York's Natural Heritage Program, Steve Young, who continues to graciously help me out whenever I have a plant question.
How grateful I am to all my blog's followers! Some of you, like Ellen and Swamp4me and catharus and Jens and Allan and Carolyn H. and Tom Arbour, have been loyally with me almost from the beginning. More recent followers like Squirrel and Diesel and desertnutmeg and Woodswoman Extraordinaire are also generous with their comments, and nearly every week I am pleased to discover new friends. I'm always excited to find your comments, and eager to see what you've had to say on your own blogs, as well. Your interest continues to encourage me, and the sense of connection I feel with you is why I have decided to continue my blog. So here's to a brand new year of adventuring, both out on the trails and here on the internet.
Happy New Year to All!