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.
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.