Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrating Summer Solstice

Summer celebrated her birthday today with bright blue skies and sweet warm air, and my friend Sue and I were happy to attend her party.  Summer Solstice found us enjoying a slow walk around Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park, rejoicing in all the pleasures of a fair summer day in a setting of exquisite beauty.  Just since the last time we were here, only a few days ago, the Fragrant Water Lilies had opened their perfect blooms, and the bright-yellow flowers of Common Bladderwort were  perching on stalks above the dark still water.  The air was abuzz with zooming dragonflies of many kinds, baby Wood Ducks were making themselves invisible among the lily pads, and to top off the day's excitement, a majestic Bald Eagle flew over our heads not once, but twice, and then perched in a tall pine across the pond in full view of our binoculars.  A very good day, indeed!

After wending our way through the pine-scented woods, we made our way down to the sunny mudflats on the western shore.  Recent heavy rainfall has filled the pond and brought water way up onto the shore, refreshing the many plants that thrive here under just such conditions.

Although this flower is not yet in bloom, the bright-red leaves of Dwarf St. Johnswort created a brilliant display.

Tall stalks of Blue Vervain were just beginning to uncurl their flower clusters and open their lovely blue blooms.

Most of the dragonflies would not sit still long enough for their picture to be taken, but this pair of Eastern Pondhawks did stop to take a rest from their mating flight.  This is the typical copulatory posture for many dragonflies, where the male (he's the blue one) grasps the back of the female's head, and then she curls her abdomen forward to receive the sperm.   They will then fly out over the water, her head still grasped by claspers at the end of his abdomen, and, dipping her abdomen into the water,  she will deposit her fertilized eggs into the pond.

Eastern Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis) are among our most beautiful dragonflies, the male a lovely powdery blue except for his bright green face, and the female a vivid emerald green with  jet-black markings.  For clearer photos of each, click here.

Longtime readers of this blog might remember my previous posts about masses of a liverwort called Ricciocarpus natans covering the mudflats along this shore.  Today, because of the risen waters, these liverworts had been lifted up and were now floating free in the pond.

I floated a specimen in the palm of my hand, the better to see the dark purplish tendrils that hang down from the underside of this chubby green liverwort.

Before we left the park today, Sue and I drove over to the main entrance and then into the camping area (Loop A).  We wanted to see the magnificent new public restrooms that were only recently completed.

Both Sue and I had contributed landscape photos to the park, which were then reproduced on ceramic tiles and installed in the walls of these new restrooms.  We opened the door of the ladies' room, and sure enough, there were our photos, in magnificent full color!  What a lovely addition to this utilitarian facility!

Here's Sue with her photo of Moreau Lake in summer.

Here's me with my photo of Moreau Lake in autumn.

There were four photos in each of the restrooms (yes, we peeked in the men's room, too).  There may be more in the family restroom, but that one was occupied and the door was locked.  We shall have to return another day to see.

Update:  I went back later and took photos of the rest of my photos on the bathroom walls.   If you're up at the park, stop by and see this beautiful brand-new bathroom building that includes hot showers for campers.  Then you can see Sue's photos, too.


Uta said...

What a treasure you are leaving behind. You must be sooo proud.

The Furry Gnome said...

Hey, that's fabulous! What a use for your photos! Congratulations. I've been exploring other blogs recently, opening my world a bit, and I think yours is one of the best - great pix and good writing. Love it.

Andrew Lane Gibson said...

Love the liverworts, Jackie. What an aesthetic species! Congrats to you and Sue on the photos in the rest area; what a cool idea to have them on the tile. Both of your photos capture the beauty of your home area so well and deserve the recognition they are getting :)

Momo said...

Congratulations on your tile reproduction display. What a fabulous way to share your talent and to bring nature's beauty into what could have been an ordinary space. I love it!

Raining Iguanas said...

Those are beautiful! What a great idea! Congratulations to both of you.