Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Good for What Ails You
How the heck can you catch a cold when the weather's been so hot? Well, I sure did, and it's made me feel so crummy I almost didn't go for a paddle today. Almost. But domestic duties having kept me close to home for three days, the stress of missing my nature fixes was exacerbating my misery, so I just HAD to get back on the river. And yes, tonight I think I feel a bit better.
I didn't push myself too hard, just moseyed over to the little islands that lie just upstream from the Sherman Island boat launch. Drifting along close to shore, I could simply reach up to the overhanging Black Huckleberries, and handfuls of fruit would tumble freely into my hand. Mmmm. Loaded with antioxidants. Gotta be good for what ails you.
It also felt good to wander around the islands, wading through warm shallow water to see what was blooming today. Golden Pert continues to carpet the shore, punctuated with clumps of Pipewort, its tiny white puffballs perched at the ends of leafless stalks.
Where the shore was a little higher and not quite so saturated, I found a couple of plants of Ditch Stonecrop. I puzzle over the structure of these flowers. The stamens are obvious, and it appears that the flowers have sepals but no petals. So what are those chubby, pointy little buds that circle the center? They are called "carpels," and each one contains an ovary, style and stigma, the female parts of a flower. The entire ring of five carpels composes the pistil.
Back in my boat, I paddled slowly along the river banks, rejoicing to see the Cardinal Flowers in brilliant array. Is there any flower on earth more vividly colored than these?
Everywhere I looked, they were lifting flaming spikes of bloom against the deep shade of the woods.
Wherever multi-branched snags protruded from the water, clouds of damselflies would lift off from their perches as I approached, their needle-slender bodies catching the light. Most were the radiant blue of the Bluets, but some were the slatier blue of this one that landed on the gunwale of my canoe. I can see that it's giving me the eye.
A final treat just before I headed home, this beautiful Frittilary butterfly landed on a Joe-Pye Weed bloom and took its time sipping nectar while I took its photograph.