Friday, January 22, 2010
A Winter Riverside Stroll
Another bright sunny day with temperatures just below freezing. No ambitious adventures today, just an easy stroll along the open river below Spier Falls Dam to the boat launch a mile or so downstream. Or at least as easy as a stroll can be, with snowshoes punching through the icy crust and tangling in bittersweet vines. I parked at the dam and followed a flock of turkey tracks down to the riverside and along the bank, as close to the flowing water as I could go. Only a week ago this water was frozen all the way across, but today the river flowed freely, with just thin sheets of ice here and there close to shore.
The sun felt warm on my back, and my eyes were dazzled by sunlight gleaming on the Yellow Birch trunks leaning over the river. The bark almost looks as if it were hammered gold leaf.
Flowerstalks in winter have their own kind of beauty, like pen-and-ink drawings rendered in sepia ink. I found two kinds of spirea shrubs that are often confused in summer when both have tiny pink blossoms clustered on stalks, but in winter their differences become more obvious. Here's Steeplebush first, with its dried flower parts clustered tight to the stalk.
And here's Meadowsweet, with its flower parts arrayed in much more open clusters.
And here are Beechdrops, which always grow under beeches and look about the same in winter as they do when they bloom in the fall.
When I reached the boat launch and turned around to walk back to my car, the sun had sunk behind the hills on the opposite side of the river, casting my bank in shadow but lighting the mountain ridge that rose above me.