Friday, December 23, 2011

Where is Winter?

According to my calendar, today is the second day of winter.  But it sure didn't look or feel very wintry when I walked along the banks of the Hudson River today.  Intermittent sun warmed the already balmy air, and puffy white clouds sailed above the top of West Mountain over on the Warren County side of the river.

With all the rain and warm weather of late, the woods have taken on the look of a mossy green rainforest.

Except for the thin ice that films the back bays of the river,  these rocky promontories look about the same as they would in mid-autumn.

Mountain streams that would normally be dry by now are running as full as in springtime.  This waterfall can be seen from the road that runs over Mount MacGregor.

This tumbling torrent was bounding down a mountainside along Spier Falls Road.

Many different mosses are thriving in the damp woods, where they share the leaf litter with such lichens as this many-tentacled one, a variety I haven't seen before.  I'm sure I've been told the scientific names of these two mosses, one furry, one ferny, but I confess that I have forgotten them.

I do remember the name of this liverwort, though:  Bazzania trilobata.  My photo doesn't show it, but each leaf of this leafy liverwort has three lobes, as its Latin name describes.

There were even some fresh-looking mushrooms in the woods today.  I don't know the name of these little tree fungi, but I thought their winter-white color looked very pretty against the red bark of their fallen limb, backed by the green moss that adorned the log lying behind -- Christmas colors!

I wonder if this sturdy toothed tree fungus will keep its vivid orange throughout the winter.  It certainly stood out as a flash of bright color in the dim woods.

What a pretty clump of Poverty Oat Grass (Danthonia spicata), with blades as curly and colorful as the ribbons on a Christmas package.

As shiny red and green as any holly, Partridgeberry carpets the forest floor with Christmas colors.

I found this cocoon lashed to a Black Tupelo twig and wondered what kind of caterpillar created it.  It was nearly four inches long, so perhaps this is the cocoon of a Cecropia moth, a very big and beautiful moth that, if all goes well, will emerge in the spring.  I'll be keeping my eye on it as the winter progresses.


The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

I am going to have to look up some different words to describe how beautiful your pictures are and how splendid the country side is where you are, beautiful covers it very well though.
Merry Christmas!

catharus said...

As always, great pictures that share your story and capture the depth of colors, so well!
I suppose the full streams are still the result of a very wet autumn -- same here in central PA. And winter, well, I guess we're witnessing the trend of warmer temperatures and later arrival. Not my preference...

Sue said...

Hi that nice moss photo, the moss with the long, windswept leaves is Dicranum scoparium, the one on the bottom left with the really red stem is Pleurozium schreberi, and the ferny one on the right is Thuidium delicatulum! nice picture!

Ellen Rathbone said...

I LOVE that Poverty Oat Grass. How beautiful! Happy holidays to you, too!