Tuesday, May 17, 2011
To the River, Through the Woods
My canoe's been strapped to my car for a week, but so far the Hudson is still too turbulent to risk paddling there. On the open river, that is. I was wondering if the backwaters behind Beaver Island might be quiet enough to enter, so between rain showers today, I hiked down through the Potter Road woods to check it out. Well, I found the water high, but not extraordinarily so. Next sunny day, I'll be back with my boat. In the meantime, I enjoyed exploring the shoreline here, all quiet bays, dark mossy woods, and rocky promontories. One promontory, which I call Bear's Bathtub, is still islanded by high water, but I found my way out there today by crossing a narrow plank bridge.
The bedrock out there is fertile ground for masses of Lowbush Blueberry, its pale greenish flowers decorated with pink bud scales.
Pale Corydalis was just opening its clusters of buds. Isn't it odd how such a vividly colored flower got named "pale" anything? Maybe it's because the lacy leaves have a silvery bloom.
Well now, what's this tree with the lime-colored bark and clusters of yellow flowers?
Why, it must be Sassafras! Its leaves were still too tiny for me to find any of the classic mitten shape, but a scrape of the bark released that diagnostic fruity root-beer fragrance. Pretty flowers! It also has beautiful dark-blue berries on hot-pink stems come fall. This is a tree we are lucky to have up here in northern New York, since it's really a southern tree. But it thrives along the river.
The lollipop colors of the leaves of this infant Chestnut Oak are almost too vivid to be believed. Wow!
Here's another Chestnut Oak that's old enough to grow flowers, but still flaunts the brilliant colors of its youth.
Less vividly colored, but daintily pretty in their own right were these baby Hemlock cones.
I continued my hike through the woods by clambering over moss-covered boulders.
Tucked in among the rocks were lots of Jack-in-the-Pulpits, plain green when viewed from human standing height, but vibrantly striped when observed from a toad's-eye-view.
At first, I thought some careless picnicker had dropped some orange peel in the woods. But no, it's a bright orange fungus. Could it be Orange Peel Fungus?
Foamflower and ferns. So lovely! And every damp springy area in the woods looked like this today.
These emerging sprouts of Shagbark Hickory leaves look like they've exploded from their burst-open, flame-red bud cover. What a sight to liven the damp, dark woods!
Canada Mayflower is just beginning to open its buds. I loved the contrast of this spring-green cluster of leaves curling around that craggy old stump.