Monday, March 28, 2011
I Head South
Despite a long stretch of bright sunny days, it remains unseasonably cold here in Saratoga Springs: down into the teens at night, with daytime temps barely making it out of the 30s. So today I decided to head south to seek a landscape free of snow. I went as far as the southern boundary of Saratoga County, to the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve, which runs through wetlands that border the Mohawk River. Miles of old towpath trails run along a canal, and today they were all completely snow free. Hooray!
I was desperate to spy something green, but the only color to relieve the general mud brown of the landscape was the rich red of these alder catkins.
There were other catkins too, such as these tawny hazelnut catkins, dangling down like windchimes. These are the male flowers of the American Hazelnut, and lo and behold, I spied a tiny female flower, that minuscule (and out of focus) red tuft just above the rightmost cluster of catkins.
Here's a closer look. What a beautiful ruby red! Such an unexpectedly brilliant color for a flower that, being wind-pollinated, doesn't depend on attracting pollinating insects by the color of its bloom. It is pretty tiny, though.
After stretching my legs for an hour or so along those snow-free but still wind-chilled paths, I got back into my sun-warmed car and headed east along the Mohawk until I reached Waterford, where I crossed the river into Cohoes. Here's where the Mohawk River flows over some pretty impressive falls before it joins the Hudson.
Cohoes was a thriving mill town in the early years of its existence, and its streets are lined with handsome apartment buildings that once housed the factory workers.
One of the old mills, with its imposing towers and elaborate facade, has been converted to living units (with, apparently, a swimming pool as one of its attractions). How wonderful to see these beautiful old buildings repurposed and so painstakingly restored.
Returning across the Mohawk into Waterford, I next passed over a section of the Erie Canal, which, later in the season, will be filled with water diverted from the Mohawk River. It's here at Waterford that the Erie Canal connects with the Champlain Canal (and Hudson River), carrying barges along a series of locks that are the highest in the world.
I continued north toward home along the Hudson, watching for waterfowl on the water and enjoying views of a landscape now unburdened by snow. I lingered a while in Stillwater, where I even detected a tinge of green in the grass.
Approaching Saratoga Springs along Route 29, I thought I might stop for a quick stroll on the Bog Meadow Nature Trail just east of town. But I soon changed my mind. I hadn't brought my snowshoes.