Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn Color Closer to Home

Well, I'm not sorry I traveled up north yesterday, since I'm always happy to visit my beloved Hudson River along its upper reaches.  But since it was autumn color I was looking for, I could have stayed much closer to home and visited my equally beloved Moreau Lake State Park.  I went there today to take a brisk walk around the lake, and there I found spectacular vistas of beautiful foliage at every turn of the shore.  The day was warm, the sky was blue with scurrying clouds that trailed their shadows across the hills, and the water was low enough that I could walk entirely around the lake on the sandy shore.  Come, walk the shore with me.

Beneath the pines at the north end of the lake, Huckleberry shrubs have begun to put on their spectacular scarlet display.

At the edge of the woods, Sassafras boughs held leaves the color of fire.

Several Sassafras trees still bore a few pendant clusters of blue-black fruits, although most of the fruits had long been plucked from their bright-red pedicels by hungry birds.

Maple-leaved Viburnum announced its presence along this bank with its leaves of a pink unlike any other color in the autumn woods.

Further back in the woods, these low boughs of Sugar Maple displayed a dappled pattern that mimics the play of sunlight and shade of its forested habitat.

Although I could see trailing Vs of migrating Canada Geese across the sky, these local residents were not about to answer the haunting calls of their fellows high above.  They looked as if they were content to remain on this beaver lodge in the middle of the lake's back bay.

There weren't many flowers in bloom along the shore, except for a few dwindling asters and some patches of still-blooming Wild Mint with its clusters of tiny purple flowers circling the stems.  I plucked a few leaves to inhale their refreshing aroma.

A few of the asters continue to hold out the promise of food for visiting bees and other pollinators.  This bee, however, was very quiet and didn't move when I poked in close to examine it.  I wonder if it was just napping, or was it nearing the end of its life?

Here was another creature taking its nourishment, but I wasn't too happy to find it.  This is the leaf-devouring instar of the Dogwood Sawfly larva, and this powdery-white individual, along with thousands of others, had skeletonized the leaves of nearly every dogwood shrub along a cove of the lake.  I have read that this doesn't really harm the dogwoods, since the infestation occurs at the end of the dogwoods' growing season when the leaves are already dropping, but still, the damage is unsightly.  This photo also shows the cast-off skins of other larvae that have molted to their final instar.  In this final stage before pupating, the larvae do not eat but have dropped to the ground to seek for winter quarters in rotting wood.  They will pupate in the spring.

Looking back over these photos I've posted, I notice that although we are seeing lots of brilliant colors now, much of the forest is still quite green.  Many days remain for witnessing the display of autumn's glory.  Be sure to get out and enjoy it, and there's no better place to do that than Moreau Lake State Park.  At present there is no fee to enter the park on weekdays, and after Columbus Day (coming up!),  entry will be free every day until next spring.


The Furry Gnome said...

What a wonderful series! I like the reflections too. Seeing the Sassafras reminds me of how far south of us you are; it barely makes it into ontario north of Lake Erie.

threecollie said...

So lovely! It is wonderful when autumn takes its time passing through.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Furry, we wouldn't have Sassafras here, either, if not for a "microclimate" of more moderate temperatures in the Hudson/Champlain Valley that allows for the growth of such southern-forest trees as Sassafras and Black Tupelo (which we also have along rivers and in swamps). It's hard to think of temperatures falling to 25-below as "moderate," but this is what I have read.

Thank you, threecollie. Yes, let's hope for a nice long color season, with no violent rain or wind storms to tear the leaves from the trees until the glorious show has come to its natural close.