Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Nature Year in Review

Today, a full year of recording my nature adventures comes to a close. On New Year's Day, 2009, I started this blog, intending to document some of the wonderful natural sites we have right here in Saratoga County, and as I look back over the year's posts, I confess I am thrilled by the many wonders I encountered as I followed the year through its seasonal changes.

I always loved winter, but keeping this blog sent me out on many days when I might have stayed snug and warm at home. The banks and bays of the Hudson River at Moreau were the focus of most of my snowshoe tramps, especially after Moreau Park staffers placed road-kill deer carcasses out on the ice to serve as feeding stations for wildlife. Every day I could read new stories from the footprints and wingprints left in the snow, until all that was left of the deer was a rack of ribs. (Maybe this coming year I will finally get a photo of a Bald Eagle.)

When I couldn't get out to the woods or the river, there were always adventures around the birdfeeders at home, including visits from Sharp-shinned Hawks, who stopped by to dine on the sparrows.

The Hudson River, lovely in every season, was even more so shrouded in mist as the ice receded and the water warmed toward spring.

Oh Spring! How lovely were the mountainsides when the Shadblow came into flower!

The Skidmore Woods soon burst into bloom, with Hepatica leading the way.

The river islands were soon ablaze with fragrant Mountain Azalea.

Late summer brought Mother Nature's garden into full glory along the Hudson banks.

Autumn arrived with its splendid colors.

As autumn waned, the young Beeches held their coppery leaves.

Soon frost was spangling every blade and leaf.

And so we come full circle, as ice and snow cover the Hudson once again.

What wonderful adventures I had! And what a lot I learned! I added about 30 new flowers to my life list, including one that is not supposed to grow in Saratoga County, the diminutive Snow Trillium. A nice patch of them was growing in the Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton. I wonder if Orra planted them?

I followed wilderness guide Vince Walsh through a frozen Greenfield swamp to find a stand of ancient Black Tupelo trees. Eight-hundred-year-oldBlack Tupelo trees! Astounding!

I stood and watched for nearly an hour as a Goldenrod Crab Spider captured and killed a wasp.

I visited Strawberry Fields Forever, a nature preserve where thousands of Fringed Gentians grow.

I saw a bird we rarely see down here, a pretty Snow Bunting flitting about the beach at Moreau Lake State Park.

I explored the amazing Hudson River Ice Meadows with Evelyn Greene, the most expert guide to this site imaginable, who also took me bog-hopping and lost-pond paddling to places I had never seen.

I met Evelyn through a mutual friend, Ellen Rathbone, who writes Adirondack Naturalist, the delightfully informative blog that inspired me to start my own, and so began a friendship with Ellen that continues to bring me joy. In fact, I would say that the very best part of this blogging business is the way it connects us with others who share our love of nature. I'm thinking of Sue and Lindsey and Jackie C., dear friends and knowledgeable companions on the trail who also publish fascinating blogs. I also met the chief botanist of New York's Natural Heritage Program, Steve Young, who continues to graciously help me out whenever I have a plant question.

How grateful I am to all my blog's followers! Some of you, like Ellen and Swamp4me and catharus and Jens and Allan and Carolyn H. and Tom Arbour, have been loyally with me almost from the beginning. More recent followers like Squirrel and Diesel and desertnutmeg and Woodswoman Extraordinaire are also generous with their comments, and nearly every week I am pleased to discover new friends. I'm always excited to find your comments, and eager to see what you've had to say on your own blogs, as well. Your interest continues to encourage me, and the sense of connection I feel with you is why I have decided to continue my blog. So here's to a brand new year of adventuring, both out on the trails and here on the internet.

Happy New Year to All!


swamp4me said...

Thanks for taking us along on all your adventures this past year. I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring!

Happy New Year and happy blogaversary!!

Ellen Rathbone said...

Appreciation is a two-way street - I am thrilled to have met you and other like-minded folks via your blog and mine! Happy New Year, Jackie - can't wait to see what 2010 brings!

Diesel said...


It's been a pleasure! I look forward to walking with you in person/cat someday and continuing to read your perambulations.

Happy New Year to you and your fine felines.

Your friend in fur,


Lindsey said...

This blog entry is so awesome that I could cry happy tears! I'm quite impressed to find out you've only had this blog for a year, it is so detailed and beautifully put together that it seems like something you've done for life.

Maybe I will help you this year get that photo of a Bald Eagle. :)

Thank you for the honorable mention, and I am so glad to have met you this year! We've already had some fun adventures (my highlights being Trailapalooza with Sue, and enjoying The Figgs at Putnam Den) and I hope for more in 2010 with you.

LOB said...

Hoorah! I found your wonderful blog and you are going to continue sharing your adventures with us. I was brought up near the Hudson River, so it's like coming home. Your photos and prose are so interesting. LOB

Sandy said...

Thank you for leaving your snug home to take all those terrific photos! I live in Oregon, and I have never seen or heard of most of the flowers, and many of the trees, you have photographed and named. The flora of the Hudson River Valley almost seem like they are from a different planet because they are new to me. Someday I'd like to travel to that area and see those flowers in person.

suep said...

While looking forward to a new year, you remind us that the previous year was full of amazing things !
It will go down for me as the year I got together with you & Lindsey & Ellen & Jackie C., and spent priceless hours exploring Moreau and other places with you guys!
Thank you too for urging me (repeatedly!) to start a blog, and for inspiring me daily with your own.

New York Land Man said...

Wonderful, lovely review of 2009. Really great post.

Tom Arbour said...

Hi Jackie- There aren't many plant lovers out there, so I'm always excited when I see your new posts, you're always finding great botanical wonders. That snow trillium was a really great find so far east. Here's to lots of great plant finds in 2010.

Allan Stellar said...

Looking forward to reading of your adventures out there on the east coast in 2010.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

My dear old and loyal friends, it was so good to hear from you all. And to new friends LOB, Sandy. and Real Estate Man, I am very happy to make your acquaintance and I hope we will keep in touch. I look forward to enjoying all your blogs and -- with my friends close to home -- many happy adventures in the woods and on the waters.

Hilltop Farmwife said...

Such beautiful pictures!

Having grown up just a mile or so from "Moreau Pond" as we called it, I have enjoyed your treks around the lake and on the mountain. I'm not a blogger and my sister doesn't have e-mail so your pictures keep me in touch with my old stomping grounds. I have to admit some of the plants and animals you have been excited to find we took for granted as always being there.

Jackie C said...

Your retrospective was so beautiful, it nearly brought tears to my eyes, I guess because I can identify with both the joy of doing these wonderful nature adventures, and because it is true that the people we meet through these blogs we write are so kind and generous and interesting! Thank you so much for being one of them to me!

Holly said...

What a wonderful year-end review. I can't believe you've only been doing the blog for a year - I think of you as one of the "expert" nature bloggers! I agree that it's such a delight to discover the on-line blog community of like-minded people. Thank you for all you bring to my daily life by keeping this blog!

squirrel said...

I am so grateful that you are continuing another year of blogging. I love your blog so much it never occured to me that you would stop but I do know how much effort it takes. I loved the recap and thanks for the mention. I hope to get up your way this year. In the meantime I will be reading your blog and learning and enjoying nature along with you. You are as much a part of my community as my local nature loving friends. It's going to be a great year! See you online and hopefully on the trail someday.

936000 said...

Lovely, lovely "wrap-up" of 2009.
Although i found your blog around mid-year, i read all the archives and truly have enjoyed your blog tremedously!
Thank YOU, for sharing your unique view to your world with us.
I do so look forward enjoying your blog in 2010! ~meggs.

Bird said...

Happy New Year, and Happy Blogiversary! This beautiful post got me almost tearful, of all the blogs I discovered over the past year I think this one is my favourite. Your ability to communicate your love of nature makes me want to jump up and down, and this post is a perfect example of that. Thank you for sharing so much with us, and I look forward to reading more in the year to come.