Thursday, January 27, 2011

Almost Balmy

Thirty above!!! Why, it was almost balmy today, considering that it was 30 below just a few days ago. I could wear my lightweight longjohns today as I snowsuited up for a walk along the Hudson near Spier Falls. There was no wind at all when I arrived at the boat launch site. The river ran serenely by, smooth as black satin.

There was even a little blue sky and a flash of sunshine now and then. The river was mostly open, except for a shelf of thick ice along the near shore.

The snow in the woods was so deep and untrodden, it was exhausting to plow through, even with snowshoes. I decided to risk a walk on the ice near the shore, where there was much less snow. But not too near the shore. Because of the dams both upstream and down, the water level here rises and falls, breaking the ice where it attaches to the banks, so there's almost always open water right near shore.

The forest animals have the same idea about saving energy by walking on the ice. I saw lots of tracks out here: fisher, mink, fox, coyote, and this trail left by what must have been a muskrat, trailing the keel of its tail as it hopped toward the open water. I have never seen muskrat along these shores, but what else could this critter be?

No question what this critter was, with that big tail fanned out behind those three-toed turkey feet.

After a while, I got a little nervous about walking on river ice, so when I found a likely spot I headed to shore and climbed up the bank into the woods. The woods were lovely, hushed and softened by heaps of knee-deep snow. Huffing and puffing, I followed a coyote trail to where it intersected with trails made by mice. Looks like the coyote snuffled around in the snow, looking for that mouse.

Twigs of Hobblebush held their fuzzy buds above the deep snow, new leaves curled and ready to open when spring arrives.

This large shelf fungus looks like it's holding a heap of merengue.

I followed a tiny bubbling stream, delighting in the forms of ice and snow along the banks. This lacy border reminded me of the dainty picot edging on fine lingerie. I also love the faceted reflections in the rolling water.

It's very odd to see such a rectangular ice formation.

Doesn't this look like a lace-edged boudoir pillow?

Oh look, there's a tiny Winter Stonefly on that pillow! That's a good sign, since stoneflies can only exist in unpolluted waters.

I think that stonefly was also enjoying this beautiful balmy day.


Louise said...

You get such lovely ice patterns along your rivers and streams. It is a pleasure to see them.

Ellen Rathbone said...

We have a winter stonefly workshop here on Saturday. Training for a while, then out to the water to wade and the snow and ice! I'll be on hand with my camera.

June said...

I am Very Glad you got off the river ice. I trust you know what you're doing when you do stuff like that...

Love the trail photos that you post, and I always love the ice pictures. Such beauty...and it happens all by itself. That's the blow-me-away part.

Thank you for being out there taking pictures while I am trapped indoors at work.