Friday, October 17, 2014

Season's Finale

This is IT, folks!  That's what the forecasters are telling us today about fall foliage season, urging us to get out there NOW if we want to feast on autumn's glory, since the colors are fading fast.  Well, I never need anyone else's urging to get outdoors, but I did hear it might rain tomorrow, so off to the river I went today.  And yes, it was really lovely!

 I entered the Hudson where it flows behind an island above the Sherman Island Dam, with West Mountain rising behind the hills on the far side of the river.  When I first set out, clouds covered the sky, but the forested hillsides and riverbanks seemed to glow with their own golden light.

By the time I had explored the coves that lie behind the island and then headed out toward the open river, the sky had cleared to a brilliant blue, and sunlight set those forested hillsides truly ablaze!

Yes, that autumn color was lovely, but this year it seems to be mostly yellows, oranges, and russets, with very little of the blazing red that in other years has punctuated this colorful mix.  But here and there, tucked back in the river's quiet coves, I did find a few spectacular flashes of scarlet, such as this low-hanging bough of a young Red Maple.

In another cove, this lipstick-red tree blazed forth from its surrounding thicket of golden beeches and emerald pines, its spectacle doubled by its reflection in the dark still water.

As I paddled closer, I noted the drooping oval leaves and silvery-gray buds that identified this tree as a Flowering Dogwood.  I had never before noticed this tree tucked in back here,  but I will be sure to return to view it next spring, when its boughs will be filled with beautiful white flowers.  We don't find many Flowering Dogwoods in our Saratoga County woods, since this is almost the northern limit of its natural range.  But as in the cases of Sassafras and Black Tupelo, this river valley appears to provide enough of a moderated microclimate to allow these more southern species to actually thrive.

Before leaving the river, I stopped to climb up onto my favorite island, where moss-covered rocks are set among surrounding trees, creating a shaded chamber as peaceful and lovely as any chapel.  I often sit in this quiet place, breathing the fragrance of oak and pine and offering prayers of gratefulness that such a place is mine to inhabit.

Here in this enchanted space, even the bare rocks offer a place for dainty flowers to grow.  And what a treat it was, to find this Pale Corydalis still in bloom, plump little pink-and-yellow blossoms dangling among its lacy green foliage.

Chestnut Oaks thrive here, too, and today their leaves were glowing with vivid colors.  Yellow, orange, green, red and violet -- all the colors of autumn contained on each single leaf!


The Furry Gnome said...

Just perfect! Brilliant colour, a nice late-season paddle, and a sunny day! Who could ask for anything more? We've had six days now of grey skies and drizzle!

Virginia said...

Oh yes! You and I are surely on the same wavelength. I love your close-to-home explorations. Now, too, looking back, I am salivating over that time you had at Pyramid Lake. Very very lovely and you project such a sense of peace in your pictures and writing. My thanks to you also for reading and commenting on my post.

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful photos of beautiful country, our colors are fading fast even though we're south of you -- too much wind.