Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Afternoon in Heaven

Could I imagine a more heavenly way to spend an autumn afternoon? Bright sun, blue sky, brilliant foliage, a beautiful lake, and a great friend to enjoy it all with. Who needs to travel the world for adventure? I've got my nearby Moreau Lake State Park and my good friend Sue, who knows how to inch her way around the lake, taking hours to do so, finding treasures along our path and sharing them all with me.

And I shared my treasures with her. For example, I called her attention to how these acorns had caught in the crotch of a baby Shadblow shrub. Now wouldn't that cause a puzzled botanizer to pause? But Sue, with her far sharper eyes, was the one who spied this little spider hiding out in that acorn cap.

It was also Sue who first saw this tiny Garter Snake, slim as a pencil, quick as a whip, and almost the same color as the sand.

We both stopped to ponder a plant on the beach, finally deciding it must be the dreaded Purple Loosestrife and we thought about pulling it out. But then we discovered this tiny black and yellow caterpillar munching away on its leaves.

Then we found another and another and another. What a great find! We had heard that this plant is a nasty invasive because it has no natural enemies. Well, these little caterpillars sure were feasting away on these.

We continued on around the lake, rejoicing in the glorious autumn color.

Of course, we had to stop to take many photos.

Witch Hazel flowers were fully unfurled on this warm afternoon, releasing their faintly citrusy scent that reminds me of clean laundry dried in the sun.

The mitten-shaped leaves of little Sassafras trees had turned their distinctive orangey red.

We even found one Sassafras that still held on to its fruit, shiny blue-black berries resting in bright-pink cup-shaped pedicels.

On the beach near those Sassafras trees, Sue found this glossy Brown Owlet caterpillar clasping a goldenrod stalk. It's amazing to think that this brilliantly colorful caterpillar will later become a mousy little brown moth.

As the day grew late, the shadows lengthened across the path, and we quickened our steps toward home.

We still had half the way around the lake to go.


Louise said...

What a wonderful day you had! Beautiful day, beautiful surroundings and a good friend to share it all with, who could ask for anything more.

Love the caterpillar pictures, especially the second.

Ellen Rathbone said...

Treasures, indeed! What wonderful caterpillars!

Carolyn H said...

Wow! Your fall colors are superb and much better than mine (at least so far). down here fall colors is moving in shifts or stages. The result is that the color is lasting a long time, but the overall effect isn't nearly as dramatic as when all the trees change color at the same time.

I was wandering on Sunday afternoon, too. The weather was just perfect!

Carolyn H.

suep said...

Actually it was YOUR eyes which noticed the spider, AND the first caterpillar, I had strolled right past them !
Yes that afternoon was certainly one of the Eighteen Perfect Days of October. For all the reasons you listed.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for your comments, Louise and Ellen and Carolyn. I certainly would have been happy to have you along with us. And I sure was glad to have you along with me, Sue. Pleasures are always magnified when shared.

Our autumn color is really mixed this year. In many places the leaves kind of withered before they turned, so their color was not as intense as in other years. But in just a few spots, those colors were still WOW!