Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday Afternoon on Pyramid Lake

Most Columbus Day Weekends find me up in Essex County at Pyramid Lake, where I volunteer at a retreat center, helping ready the center for the winter.  A perfect gem of a wilderness lake, surrounded by mountains and incomparably beautiful in every season, Pyramid is never lovelier than on a perfect October day, exactly the kind of sun-warmed, blue-sky day we had on Sunday.  My chores completed, I was free by late afternoon to slip my canoe into these pristine waters and paddle around the lake.   The sun was easing down the western sky, shedding a golden light on the flaming foliage, and an absolute silence settled over the water as the day's brisk breeze died down. 

The only sound I could hear was the drip, drip, drip from the ends of my paddle as I moved along close to shore, breathing in the delicious scent of pine-needled forest, feasting my eyes on a sapphire sky and the radiant trees, their gorgeous colors intensified in their rippling reflections.

As I rounded the end of a pine-studded island, I looked back to see the sheer cliffs of Bear Mountain gleaming in the late afternoon sun.

I nudged my canoe into a cedar swamp at the eastern end of the lake, wondering if I would once again find the millions of tiny pale-green jelly-like balls, called Nostoc Balls, that thrive in the shallow waters here.  I did not see them at first, for they were not floating near the surface as I remembered them from earlier seasons, but were instead lying very close to the bottom of the autumn-chilled water.  I reached down into the water and brought some swirling closer to the surface where I could see them better.

 These little balls are composed of colonies of cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) encased in a spherical membrane.  I have read that they are quite uncommon, so I always feel a bit of excitement whenever I find them here.  (To see a photo of how abundant these balls can be in this lake, as well as to find a link to some microscopic views of their structure, click here.)

This tiny white feather (a loon's?) was floating on those same waters.  I was struck by how it was beaded with sparkling dewdrops.

I was also struck by the vivid magic-lantern glow of this tiny Red Maple seedling growing on a moss-covered log, lit from behind by a lowering sun that also intensified the green of the  moss.

Back on shore, I admired the beautiful fruits of Partridgeberry.  Notice the two little "eyes" on each berry, which are the blossom scars.  This is the only berry I can think of that requires two flowers to make one fruit.

After beaching my canoe, I walked down a trail that led to a thundering waterfall, its roaring waters amplified by this summer's abundant rainfall.  It's really rare to see more than a trickle flowing over these rocks this late in autumn.

It's hard to think of this season as autumn, though, as the summer continues to hold sway over our weather, with temperatures still reaching into the 70s, and even 80s.  No killing frosts as yet, even as far north as Pyramid Lake, where a garden planted with Zinnias attracted this lovely yellow sulpher butterfly.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

This post warmed my heart, Jackie! Such color from the trees and oh, that sky! no other time of the year produces such a vibrant and crisp shade of blue. My mother grew up in Albany, NY and after I mentioned you and your blog she went on and on about how beautiful your area of the country is and how she wants to take us up there. I couldn't agree more :)

Raining Iguanas said...

Today's post is the perfect compliment to my coffee and kickstart to my day. I visited that lake many years ago. It is as beautiful as you describe it. Thank you for sharing.

catharus said...

Stunningly beautiful and serene! So tranquil and warm! Heaven indeed!

squirrel said...

Your photos are dazzling.This is the best time for those landscape pictures and you sure have captured the New England fall.

Momo said...

Your marvelous photos capture the beauty of one of my favorite places. Each time you post a blog of Pyramid Lake there is an aspect of the center that is new to me, though I have visited the center for many years. Thank you. It warms my heart to envision myself there now.

-S said...

Love the photos as usual. Minor comment: something is killing the blue sky in the first few photos though, either Blogger recompressing your photos, or you compressed them too hard? You can see a lot of banding.

asita said...

Oh so beautiful! Mmmm...

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

A.L. Gibson, if you do come this way, I hope you will let me take you to some of my favorite places.

Raining Iguanas, if you want to go back to Pyramid Lake, let me know and we can go together.

Dear catharus, I knew you would love this post! I always think of you when I'm at Pyramid Lake.

Thanks, squirrel. Our New England fall is a bit late in arriving, but it's finally on its way. Glad you liked the photos.

Oh Momo, how nice to meet a fellow lover of Pyramid Lake. I wonder if we have ever been at PLC at the same time.

Thanks, -S, for alerting me to the photo flaws. I noticed them too, plus poor resolution in the previous post. I don't know who to complain to about this, nor how to fix it. Let's hope it gets better. I wonder if other bloggers are having similar problems.

Yes, asita. So beautiful. Thanks for you comment. Aren't we lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the world?