Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What Is So Rare . . . ?

Ahh!  This is more like it! Today was that kind of June day the poet wrote about as being so rare:  neither cold and rainy nor hot and humid,  but simply perfect!  The air was light and dry, cool in the shade and warm in the sun, with just enough breeze to set the surface of the lake to sparkling.   What a lovely day, too, for ascending Mount McGregor in Wilton and gazing for miles and miles away from atop the mountain's overlook.

I had come up here today to meet with the folks at the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage, the New York State historic site where President Grant spent his last days, struggling to complete his memoirs before he died, so his family would have some income after his death. (No pensions for U. S. Presidents back then!)  This is a moving and fascinating site, offering informative tours of the cottage during the warm months, as well as a series of programs on a variety of topics, mostly to do with American history.  But this coming July 1, I will be offering a photo presentation on the wildflowers of the surrounding mountains, followed by a wildflower walk around the grounds.  So today, I thought I'd come up here to see what wildflowers might be blooming.

As it happened, most of the wildflowers blooming near the cottage today were not native plants, but rather the kind of introduced species we would expect to find at long-disturbed sites: hawkweeds and speedwells and daisies and clovers, and so forth.  But at least one of those clovers was one I had never seen before, and in fact was one I needed to collect for the Saratoga County plant atlas:  the Small Hop Clover (Trifolium dubium).  It was the smallest yellow clover I had ever seen, but very visible, because generous carpets of it covered the sloping open areas where we stood to enjoy the beautiful view from the Mt. McGregor overlook.

My scouting mission at Mt. McGregor completed, I continued on up U.S. 9 to Moreau Lake State Park, where I set off to enjoy a walk around the back bay of the lake.  The lake lay calm under that clear blue sky, its shoreline decorated with stands of our perfectly beautiful native Wild Blue Flag (Iris versicolor).

Just as blue as that radiant sky were the tiny flowers of our native Smaller Forget-me-nots (Myosotis laxa), spread in vast numbers across the damp sand near the water.

Such a wee wonderful flower, barely an eighth of an inch across!  Wouldn't it make a sweet bouquet for a dollhouse?

The north end of Moreau Lake's back bay has a sunny, sandy beach that my friend Sue calls "The Odonota Shore" for the crowds of dragonflies and damselflies that always dart and dash through the tall grasses and shoreline reeds along this part of the lake.  And they were certainly darting and dashing today!  A constant flash and flutter and thrumming whirr of glittering wings!

But all those darting and dashing dragons and damsels do come to rest from time to time.  In this case, they came to rest en masse:  a whole log full of Chalk-fronted Corporals!

Not many of the dragonflies, though, would come to rest long enough for me to grab their photos.  But here's one that did:  a handsome male Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

And here's another:  the brilliant-green female Eastern Pondhawk, resting momentarily on the sand.  Her powder-blue mate was dashing about, refusing to sit for his portrait.

I almost stepped on these pretty little Racemed Milkworts (Polygala polygama), so small I could barely see them sprawling across the sand.

What they lack in size, they certainly do make up for in brilliant color!  Here's a closer look.

I had to wade out into the water to take a photo of this one:  Water Smartweed (Persicaria amphibia).
That little bunch of tiny pink florets will enlarge as the summer goes on, and although these were floating out in a foot or so of water, sometimes I find them growing on wet land as well (true to their specific epithet!).  But on this gorgeous day of sweet warmth, I was quite happy to wade on out to say hello to one of our prettiest flowers of summer.


Sally said...

What a lovely walk in the woods. It's amazing to me how you can scan an area and it seems like there isn't any interesting plant life but, if you take the time to really look, it's packed with beauty! Dragonflies are a reminder of lazy summer childhood days. Thank you for the tour!

threecollie said...

I love the sound of dragonfly wings, and their colors, but especially their name. Pondhawk has such a ring to it!

The Furry Gnome said...

Another interesting group of plants!

Woody Meristem said...

Great photos of unusual and interesting plants.