What a perfect day for a paddle: the air soft and warm as in spring, the sky bright blue from horizon to horizon, the forested mountains along the Hudson ablaze with autumn's glory!
Every bend of the river was like turning a kaleidoscope, with scenes of constantly changing vivid colors.
Although a dense morning fog had yielded to clear blue sky, the overhanging twigs and branches -- including these alder catkins -- still held crystalline drops from the fog's deposits.
Some of the riverside alders held these dense fluffy clumps of Wooly Alder Aphids, tiny insects that extrude a white waxy substance that looks like fur.
The vivid foliage of Red Maple, Witch Hazel, and Lowbush Blueberry brightened the shaded banks.
I loved drifting under the overhanging American Beeches and gazing up at the sky through their golden and coppery boughs.
Oh look! One tiny little Bluet was still bravely blooming long after almost all other flowers have called it quits for the year.
The leaves of Maple-leaved Viburnum turn a pink as pretty as any posy's, and today they added their own distinctive hues to the mix of colors along the banks.
After several hours of paddling the river, pushing upstream against a swirling current and then drifting swiftly downstream again, riding a river swollen from days of heavy rain, I headed home along Spier Falls Road. I passed the little waterfall that had been just a trickle tinkling and dripping down the rocky mountainside last week (see my post "First Frost" from October 13) and found it today a roaring torrent, plunging with rambunctious vigor from boulder to boulder.
All along Spier Falls Road, the rocky hillsides were alive with the sounds of rushing, dancing, dripping, and splashing water.
Update: An amazing coincidence: this poem by Julie Cadwallader Staub was read by Garrison Keillor on NPR's "Writer's Almanac" this Sunday morning. I may be quite a bit beyond the age one could call midlife, but the sentiment still applies.
MidlifeThis is as far as the light
of my understanding
has carried me:
an October morning
a canoe built by hand
a quiet current
above me the trees arc
green and golden
against a cloudy sky
below me the river responds
with perfect reflection
a hundred feet deep
a hundred feet high.
To take a cup of this river
to drink its purple and gray
its golden and green
a bend in the river up ahead