Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dreary Day Ruminations

Our streak of bright summery weather came to an end yesterday, along with my hopes that my knee might soon be relieved of pain, now that all the surgical procedures are over and done with,  and all the wires and screws are out of my bones and the biting staples are out of my skin.  But now I've been warned that the throbbing will probably keep on throbbing, thanks to the "trauma induced arthritis" that is likely to be permanent.  Or so my doctors tell me.  Well, that put me in rather a glum mood today, a mood that the atmosphere along Bog Meadow Nature Trail seemed to reflect, with a damp chill wind blowing dead brown leaves through a dark, gray landscape devoid of any radiance.

Glum as I felt, and hobbling in pain as well,  I nevertheless knew that a walk in nature might help to lift my spirits.  And in some ways, the somber landscape felt just right, as if it were commiserating with me.

A few drops of rain even fell, as I sat on a bench looking over the dark still water.

But it wasn't long before I noticed a few bright spots.  In fact, right next to the bench where I sat was this bush with some of the most brilliantly colored leaves I have ever seen.  Ah yes, I'd forgotten, a nice patch of Swamp Rose grows right here! Its fat red hips confirmed the identification, and then I remembered the wonderful fragrance it sheds on the air in summer.

As I glanced around, I found other signs of life and color, like these evergreen ferns and mosses growing at the base of a tree, holding the promise of spring even before the winter has come.

I got up then and resumed my walk, and at so many places along the trail, I remembered the joy of finding here many numbers of beautiful plants, an abundance that makes this trail one of my favorite haunts for wildflower walks.  Here's where I come to find Canada Lilies and Nodding Trillium,  Star-flowered Solomon's Seal and Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Spring Beauty and Early Azalea and Blue-bead Lily and so much more!  Memories flooded back of so many friends who have shared the thrill of wildflower hunts with me here,  along with hopes of returning here again in spring with these same friends and many more -- even if I do have to hump along with a cane for support.  Yes, my mood was certainly lifting!  And the brilliance of these Winterberry fruits added their influence.

How I wish I'd had some of my plant-expert friends with me today when I encountered this interesting vine with its puffy clusters of spent seed heads.  I couldn't recall seeing this  vine here before, and I had no idea what it could be.  Except that those clusters reminded me of the seed heads found on Hop Hornbeam trees.  Obviously, this is not a Hop Hornbeam tree, but could it be a Hop vine?

A closer inspection revealed the prickly stem that is diagnostic for Hop vines, but I could not find a single leaf still clinging to the vine, which might have helped with the diagnosis.   When I handled the fruits, the papery husks fell away, revealing these little furry nubbins speckled with golden dust.  I have never handled a Hop fruit before, so I don't know what they would look like at this stage.  But I'm hoping perhaps someone who is familiar with Hops might tell me if my hunch is correct.

A mystery plant!  I couldn't have hoped for a better mood-lifter than this!

UPDATE:  A friend has suggested Japanese Hops, a very invasive species in more southern parts of the U.S..  If this IS Japanese Hops (I'm still trying to confirm), I will return and pull out the vine.  The seeds have already dispersed, so I will be looking for more over the years.  So far, I saw only this one specimen.


The Furry Gnome said...

Very interesting. But i don't know hops well enough to twll. Hope you can stay active and not let that knee get you down! Are you doing rehab?

Bullwinkle said...

Where is this place exactly? It looks beautiful.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Furry, for your comment. Yes, I am keeping active, walking daily and it seems to help. I've already done all the physical therapy that was deemed helpful, so I just keep doing everything I can to increase my strength and stability. Only trouble is, it HURTS!

Hi Bullwinkle, thanks for stopping by. This trail runs for about two miles through a forested wetland and open marsh east of Saratoga Springs. The entrance is on the right (south) off Lake Avenue, going east on Rte. 29 about a mile out of town. Yes, it's beautiful in every season. Great place to snowshoe or ski in winter.