Monday, March 11, 2013

Colorful Finds Amid the Gray

 A dark day today, not nearly as warm as predicted, and the landscape around Moreau Lake seemed to offer nothing but shades of brown and gray.  But at least it wasn't raining, so Sue and I met as planned to walk around the lake, looking for something -- anything! -- that would break the monotony of all those dismal shades.  And sure enough, it didn't take long for our eyes to light on the bright green twigs of a whole bank of Sassafras saplings.  I can't think of any other understory tree that displays such a vividly green coloration.

Just a bit further along on the sandy beach, we came upon these wintering-over leafy rosettes that announced their presence with bursts of deep purple leaves and magenta stems.  I fear that they probably belong to some dreaded invasive like Spotted Knapweed, but their cheerful color was a welcome sight amid the brown and gray litter on the beach.

Well, it was rather a disturbing sight to find what was left of this poor muskrat, but hey, all God's chillun gotta eat, so we hope the coyote or fisher or whatever predator left these remains of its meal enjoyed its feast.  And we were left to espy a couple of vivid spots of color with the muskrat's bright yellow teeth, a distinctive feature that allowed us to ID this creature immediately, without having to get too close to its messy remnants.

This was hardly a colorful find, but it was an exciting one:  the leftover flowerstalks of Autumn Coralroot, which we stumbled upon when we left the ice-slicked trail to find surer footing through  the woods.  Of course, it was Sue with her amazing eyesight who spied the distinctive pods of this little native orchid, whose flowers look hardly different than this when in full bloom in autumn.

We can always count of lichens and mosses to add a punch of green to the winter scene, and this log offered a nice population of both in particularly vivid shades.

Of course, the brightest spot in the woods today was my dear friend Sue, who always brings such knowledge and enthusiasm along on every walk we take together.  And if you should happen to see Sue this week, be sure to wish her a Happy Birthday.  She was born on March 9 (I won't say what year), but we agree that one should be able to celebrate one's birthday for a least an entire week.


Mike Whittemore said...

You always seem to capture the coolest things in nature! PS I am jealous of my buddy Andrew's trip out that way. If he ever gets out there again to botanize, I'm sneaking into his suitcase! :)

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Mike, you would be most welcome to join us. Since our kids are all grown, we have bedrooms to spare, and I am always delighted to show off the incredible riches of our local woods and waterways.