Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to the Woods, At Last!

Do I like to lie around on the couch all day like these cats? No, I do not, and neither does my son, who was going to go for a hike with me yesterday, but spent the night before sick to his stomach, then all day asleep on the couch while his mom looked after him. Today he is still convalescing, but seemed well enough I could leave him alone for an hour or two to get outdoors.

Ballston Spa is quite a bit closer than Moreau, so I drove over there to Woods Hollow Nature Preserve. This sandy-soiled tract provides lots of pleasant trails through its piney woods, where all kinds of pines -- White, Red, Pitch and Scotch -- find a home.

There is also a pretty pond with forested banks and quiet bays, and a path that follows along close to shore. Today the pond lay still as glass, reflecting the dark trees touched by the golden light of the afternoon sun.

I am always amazed at how much green remains in the woods after all the deciduous leaves have fallen. This Sheep Laurel looks as green today as it did when it bloomed last summer.

And so does this Dalibarda, also called Dewdrop, which bears white five-petaled flowers well into September. You can find its low-growing leaves still green even under the snow.

Some flower-heads remain rather pretty even after their petals have fallen. Here are the starry bracts of some kind of aster (probably Small-flowered Aster). . .

. . . and a golden spray of what I believe were the flowers of Evening Primrose.

This time of year, when the leaves have all shriveled, it's easy to see all the galls on the stems of Tall Goldenrod. These galls must not harm the plants all that much, since I find them on almost every stem, and the flowers continue year after year, undiminished.

How quickly the light fades these late-autumn afternoons! It soon grew too dark to take any more photos, even though it was only a little after four. It was time to drive home to check on my patient, but I had to pull over to watch as this moon rose above a row of pines. So lovely! Isn't it amazing how we never grow tired of gazing at the moon?


Ellen Rathbone said...

How relaxing - and a great moon to boot! I was hoping to get out today (the sun is out and there's a dusting of snow!), but the two other people in the office decided not to come in today, so here I am, stuck inside. >sigh< Well, at least I can watch the birds at the feeders.

Carolyn H said...

Woodswalker: last night at the cabin, cirrus clouds obscured the moon into little more than a bright blob. And it was still gorgeous.

Carolyn H.

squirrel said...

Love your post and the excellent photos of those dried flowers. We have them down here in WV but I never knew what they were. Both are really beautiful, sort of like sepia flowers. I noticed you have a fair amount of evergreen trees which are few and far between here. Occasionaly you will find a stand where someone planted them.
Loved the moon shot, can we ever get enough photos of it. I don't think so.

Hope your son is feeling better.

Diesel said...

Dear Jackie,

You should never question the doings of a sleeping cat! Sleeping cats are doing the work of the world - striving for peace on earth, looking out for other furry, feathered and scaley friends. Why the heck do you think we sleep so much? It's cause we're working hard so we need more sleep.

Your friend in fur,


Jacqueline Donnelly said...

It's always so good to hear from you, dear friends!

Ellen: Can you get down to Saratoga County on Jan. 9? Vince Walsh is leading a tracking workshop at Wilton Wildlife Preserve that day. Hope we have snow.

Carolyn: We never get tired of looking at the moon, do we? Like the scent of pines or reflections on still water, the beauty of the moon always draws us.

Squirrel: I too love the shapes and colors of the dried flowers, and I'm trying to learn how to identify plants in all seasons. I keep looking for Seed Box, but don't really know where to look. Regarding the evergreens: Yes, they figure prominently in the north woods, and the farther north, the more they dominate. But southern states have their own species of evergreens: cedars and loblollies and cypresses, etc.

Thanks for asking about my son. He is finally on the mend and returned home to NYC this morning (Thurs.).

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Oh Diesel, I didn't mean to leave you out of my response to friends' comments. And cats are among my favorite people! But they sure are cagey, too. Nice try, trying to convince me that you and your fellow felines have peaceable thoughts about other furry or finny or feathery friends. You may LOOK all cuddly and adorable when you curl up on the couch, but I've seen your fangs and your claws. I'm awfully glad you tend to be smaller than I am.