Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sue Gets A Hornbeck!

NOW we can really go places!  My dear friend and nature companion Sue has finally taken the plunge and purchased a Hornbeck Blackjack canoe.  Because this boat weighs a mere 12 pounds, Sue can hoist it up on one shoulder and hike for long distances to hidden ponds that no car could have access to.  I've got a list of places I can't wait to take her to.  But first she wanted to baptize her Blackjack in the dear familiar waters of Moreau Lake, the lake that's our true home base and the place that we first came to know one another.  I joined her there on Wednesday morning.  I am, after all, a kind of godmother to Sue's new baby.

Here Sue sets out to test her new boat's performance and to get a feel for how far she can tip it before swamping.  After several maneuvers that involved her getting thoroughly soaked (on purpose!), she dumped the water out of her boat, dried off a bit, and set out to explore the shore of the lake.  That's my own Hornbeck Blackjack on the shore, and I quickly got in and followed her.

When we entered the first bay of the lake, I noticed quite a commotion in a tall Sassafras tree and saw flashes of red and black as this Pileated Woodpecker (Sue thought it was a juvenile) tugged at the ripening fruit.

Well, it's always exciting to see a Pileated Woodpecker, they're such flashily impressive birds, but I was even more excited to see so many fruits on this Sassafras.  Every year I hunt and hunt for them and only rarely find them, even on trees that I know had female flowers in the spring.  This has got to be one of the prettiest tree fruits, with blue-black berries resting on scarlet pedicels that hold the fruit erect like tiny goblets.  Obviously, woodpeckers love to eat them, but they're not considered to be edible for humans.

The shoreline of the lake is beginning to take on late-summer colors, with this beautiful little golden sedge (?)  growing copiously in the sand at the water's edge.   I love the pretty herringbone pattern of its flower heads.

While peering closely to admire that sedge, Sue discovered this moribund Katydid, an insect we rarely get to lay eyes on, since it normally occupies the treetops.  Such a lovely color, like the finest jade, and what delicacy of the wings! We guessed that this was a female, with that ovipositor protruding from her abdomen.  Does a Katydid expire after laying her eggs?  We felt a tender sadness toward her, and Sue laid her gently on the sand beneath the pretty sedge.

I was surprised to find Small-flowered Gerardia already in bloom, since this is a flower I normally don't start to look for along Moreau's shores until September.   The plants were not only blooming early, they also seemed to be extraordinarily large.   Is it possible another species of Gerardia has moved in on the territory?

This was quite an extraordinary clump of Nodding Smartweed.  I usually find just a few scraggly stems here and there, but here was a magnificent cluster of them all handsomely massed together in a most un-weedlike manner.


June said...

The sedge looks like a child's drawing of wheat. :-)
I'm glad you gave a gentle burial to the katydid. Ah, nature.
Sassafras fruit is stunning, isn't it?
Congrats to Sue on her new canoe.

Carolyn H said...

Wow, a Hornbeck! I'm totally jealous. Give her my congratulations!

Virginia said...

How nice that now you both have Hornbecks that you can carry easily. I bet being able to portage opens up a lot of new options for you--we'll watch as you discover new terrain!

I have a 29 lb. old Poke Boat, which is great. I can carry it okay, but it is just heavy enough to be awkward lifting above my head alone to load on the car. Still, it's lots of fun.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog tonight while trying to identify some plants I have growing in my yard.
I love it. I love your photography and your descriptions, both are beautiful.
I am jealous of your lake and your canoe :)
We moved to North Mississippi from Massachusetts a little over a year ago. I love it here, but I miss the north as well.
Anyway, thank you for sharing the beautiful sights you have around you.