Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hot Day, Cool Stuff on the River

Hot days like today will bring these Marsh St. Johnswort into bloom.  
But their leaves are pretty already.

Our first HOT summer day (over 80 degrees).  What else to do on a hot summer day but go jump in the river?  Oooh, did that feel good!  There are places along my stretch of the Hudson where one can enter the water without wading through muck, where hard clean rocks descend gradually into the sweet cool depths.  A-a-a-a-h!  Then I haul out dripping and bask in the sun until hot enough to do it all over again.  No lifeguards blowing whistles, no hollering kids, no chlorine smell, just cool green water, blue blue sky, sweet birdsong all around.

Of course, I have to paddle some to get to these swimming spots.  Today I headed for Juniper Point, just above the Sherman Island Dam, exploring every bay and cove along the way.  The sunlit waters of the quiet coves were glowing with Water Starwort (Callitriche palustris). (Thanks go to naturalists Ellen Rathbone and Hilary Smith for IDing this plant for me.)   Clouds of its golden feathery foliage stirred beneath the water; a few tiny rosettes of darker green leaves were floating on the surface. This native water plant provides food for waterfowl and shelter for baby fish. Hundreds of little minnows darted and flowed among the plants as I paddled over. 

Water Starwort glows beneath the surface in a quiet cove.

Also inhabiting quiet waters were clumps of Arrow Arum (Peltranda virginica).  Its large pointed leaves form a kind of thicket around the "flower" hidden inside, a strange-looking corn-cobby sort of thing, its cream-colored spadix encased in the envelope of its slender spathe.  Emergent plants like this provide jumping-off spots for insect nymphs, which climb the stems for their final molting.  How many shed skins can you see in this photo? 

Arrow Arum.  And friends

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) is blooming now on the shadowed banks, its waxy white trumpets scattered among its dark green leaves.  This is one of the very few mid-summer flowers that bloom in the deepest shade.  Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica) is another one,  blooming away in such dark shade I have never been able to get a clear photo of it.  I tried and tried today. No luck. 

Partridgeberry.  And lots of it.

Out on Juniper Point the Low Blueberries were starting to ripen, a few on each bush.  I love the color variations on a ripening  blueberry branch, such pretty soft greens and pinks and lavenders and yes, at last,  deep BLUE!  Mmmmm.  And they taste good, too.

Look good enough to eat?  They were.

A little more something blue.  And I mean really little.  These Smaller Forget-me-nots (Myosotis laxa) are a native version of their larger garden-variety cousin.  Aren't they adorable?  They would make a nice bouquet for a little girl's dollhouse.

A tiny bouquet of Smaller Forget-me-nots

Was that thunder I  heard?  Yes, indeed, it was, and I looked up to see these looming storm clouds headed my way from across the river.  I love thunder clouds and thunder storms, but not when I'm out on the river.  Time to head home.  In a hurry.  (Yes, I made it.)

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