Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Home Sweet Hudson

Back home to my dear sweet Hudson today. How is it possible a whole month has passed since I last put my paddle into my own home waters? It's been a busy spring for exploring new habitats far afield, but today I had a real hankering to get back to "my" stretch of the Hudson at Moreau. Held back by the Sherman Island Dam, the water slows and widens here, making its way around islands and rocky promontories, settling quietly into calm back bays and wooded marshes.

Any new and exciting finds today? Nope. But lots of fine old friends, who are much beloved. What an unexpected treat to find Golden Hedge Hyssop so early in bloom! This is one of the flowers that first inspired me to learn the names of all that grow wild, since when I first found it along these banks a dozen or so years ago, I had never seen it before. And in all the years since, I have never found it growing anywhere else in Saratoga County but here.

Just a few blooms were studding its bright green leaves today. But when it gets going in earnest, the river banks will be carpeted with masses of their glowing gold.

Another bright yellow bloom that will soon be carpeting the banks is Pale St. Johnswort. There's actually nothing pale about it, for even its buds are a vividly colored deep orange.

The yellow theme continues with Small Sundrops, a dainty member of the Evening Primrose Family.

I was distressed to find this patch of Sweet Flag in such a mess. Must be a muskrat or some other critter has been feasting here. Not surprising, since its new shoots can be quite tasty. I broke one off, and the tender sweet pith slipped easily into my mouth.

It's easy to confuse this water-loving plant with cattail, but I learned yesterday on my tour of Ed Miller's native plant collection that the Sweet Flag leaf has a crease down the middle that the cattail leaf does not.

I could find only one or two "critchicrosses" (Thoreau's word for the Sweet Flag's spadices) in the whole patch, and this broken-off one was serving as a resting spot for this Long-jawed Orb Weaver spider.

Beautiful pale-pink Meadowsweet was leaning over the water today, a bit earlier than I have ever found it.

The same for Tall Meadow Rue. Its puffs of white blooms were lighting up the shade of the overhanging bank where it grew.

Back in the marsh, the emergent plants were raising their leaves above the standing water. I found a few flowering spadices inside this fine bunch of Arrow Arum, but my camera could not focus on them as my boat kept drifting away.

Here's a photo of of an Arrow Arum spadix I took last year when the sun provided more light than did this dark rainy day.

I did manage to get a shot of an arum leaf, with its lovely swirls of pale green. It had started to rain, and the drops magnified the tiny dots on the leaf's surface. (Be sure to click on this photo to see the full effect.)

The steep wooded banks were studded today with bright white Partridgeberry flowers, with a few of last year's two-eyed red berries still nestled among the foliage. I don't know of any other plant around here that requires two flowers to make one fruit, as the Partridgeberry does. This pair of blooms appears to have its stamens protruding from its furry interior.

When the rain changed from intermittent to steady, I decided to call it a day before my camera got ruined. When I got back to my car, I decided to risk just one shot, since this Purple-flowering Raspberry growing there was so exquisite.


Ellen Rathbone said...

Welcome home!

chinnb said...

I love the arum leaf!

Wayne said...

You are making me homesick for that stretch of the Hudson. Paddled there for years, but not once yet in 2010. Your close-up of the arum leaf with raindrops is magnificent. Should make a lovely print.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi Ellen, chinnb, and Wayne. Thanks for stopping by to leave your comments. Obviously, I was taken with that arum leaf, too. And regarding that stretch of the Hudson: avoid it on the weekends, since it's getting pretty crowded with both paddlers and motorboaters.