Sunday, September 6, 2015

Another Week of Wonderful Wanderings

I'm happy to report that, with every week, my once-shattered knee grows stronger and more flexible. I can now go up and down stairs, both lowering and lifting my weight with bended knee if I clutch the bannister.  But the pain?  Well, darn it all, my knee still hurts like hell!  The odd thing is, I can walk for some distances with little discomfort, and I manage to get out most days to enjoy the beautiful natural areas near my home.  But then when I sit to edit my photos and try to write a blog, the throbbing begins and worsens until it drives me back to my couch and my icepack. So I've spent only a few minutes each day at my desk, until finally I've gathered a week's worth of wanderings to share on my blog.  And it was a pretty good week.

Monday, August 31:  Rockwell Falls at Lake Luzerne
After a busy weekend entertaining houseguests, I thought we should give our kitchen a little rest, so my husband and I went up to Lake Luzerne to enjoy a nice dinner on the porch of Upriver Cafe.  The food here is really terrific, and so is the view of the Hudson River from the restaurant's spacious dining porch.  But see how low the water is!

After dinner on this pleasant evening, we made our way down a steep bank to walk out to where the Hudson falls through a gorge at Rockwell Falls.  Of course, I used my cane for support, but what a joy it was to feel strong enough to scramble around on the jumbled and craggy rocks, venturing close enough to the thundering water to feel the cooling spray.

I loved this little spray of Calico Asters tucked in among the rocks.

Thursday, September 3:  Hudson Crossing Trail at Schuylerville
What a treat it was to have my daughter and her husband come to Saratoga to stay over Wednesday night!  My son-in-law had to leave on business early the next morning, but my daughter Jane had most of the day to enjoy visiting with us and her brother Philip, who lives in the neighboring town of Schuylerville.  We all joined Philip to walk along the Hudson River in Schuylerville, where a beautiful trail runs close to the water under towering Cottonwood trees.  The day was hot, so the shade of those trees was most welcome, and the serene reflections in the quiet waters had a cooling effect.

We walked all the way to where the barge canal joins the open river, then watched an Osprey soar over the water and land on an old bridge abutment out in the middle of the river.  We saw many beautiful flowers along the way -- Coneflowers, Sneezeweed, Jewelweeds, and Turtlehead among them -- but I was especially struck by how pretty these Fringed Loosestrife seed pods were: like tiny shiny green balls resting atop rosy stars.

Saturday morning, September 5:  Woods Hollow Nature Preserve near Ballston Spa
A gorgeous day, cooler and less humid than it's been, with the sky a radiant blue from horizon to horizon:  it seemed a perfect day to revisit Woods Hollow Nature Preserve, where last week my friend Sue and I found an interesting plant around the pond.

Well, I should rather say it was SUE who found this plant, since, of the two of us, only she has the eyesight keen enough to espy the tiny, wiry, grass-colored stalks of Yellow Bartonia.  According to records compiled by the New York Flora Association, there is no record of Yellow Bartonia growing in Saratoga County, so I intended to collect a specimen to send to NYFA so that they could amend that record.  How lucky I was to find it again, knowing how bad my eyesight is.  But I remembered it was growing out of Sphagnum Moss among neighboring plants of Sundew.  And there it was!

Along the way, I encountered a number of interesting fungi, which surprised me, considering how dry our weather has been.  But most of the fungi I found were growing in damp seepy spots, as was this yellow mushroom with the interesting names of Chicken-fat Suillus or Slippery Jack.  It does have a greasy or slippery quality, which is preserved even after cooking.  I tried it once, and did not care for its texture nor its tart, almost lemony taste.

I have also eaten the next mushroom I found, the Painted Suillus, and again, did not care that much for its taste.  But I do admire its beauty, and it looked especially pretty today, growing in a tight cluster of bright red buttons.

I do not know the name of this next mushroom, except to guess it might be one of the Laccaria species, which are known to be frilly like this.  Have you ever seen such a ruffly bunch of mushroom?  I sure haven't!

In the spring, I see thousands and thousands of Skunk Cabbage plants, but hardly ever do I find a fruit of this swale-loving plant.  But I did find one today at Woods Hollow.  But ONLY one, despite the fact that I could see evidence of many surrounding plants.  How odd, considering that I always see flies buzzing around the spadices in spring, so I assume that most of the flowers get pollinated.

Here's another little oddity, some pointy galls on the leaves of Witch Hazel.  I think it's fun that Witch Hazel galls look like tiny little witches' hats.

When I crossed a green carpet of Water Pennywort with its pretty, scalloped round leaves, I pulled aside one of the leaves to see if this damp-loving plant was still in bloom.  And yes, I did see a few of its teeny tiny greenish-white flowers hiding away in the leaf axils along the stems.  So cute!

Saturday afternoon, September 5:  The Burl Trail along the Kayaderosseras Creek

Since Woods Hollow is so close to the Burl Trail along the Kayaderosseras Creek, I decided to head over there after lunch to see what gorgeous late-summer flowers might be blooming along the banks. And there were many!

Close to the water, growing out of damp sand, was a thicket of bright-yellow Nodding Bur-Marigold, attracting many pollinators, including this busy bee.

Up higher on the banks, amid thickets of Tall Goldenrod, the gorgeous New England Aster was stunning with its deep-purple blooms.

There were many pollinators visiting these vivid blooms, as well.  And here was a predator waiting to snag one of those pollinators -- a Goldenrod Crab Spider lurking among the asters.

Oh, but this trail was glorious with asters today, asters of many colors!  Here is another New England Aster, but this one with rosy pink blooms.

And here was yet a third color of New England Aster, a pale pink variety that I have never, ever seen before.  I even questioned if it was a true New England Aster, but I looked at the bracts on the underside of the blooms and found them covered with glandular hairs, a distinguishing feature of this species.

Here was a section where all three colors of New England Aster grew close together.

What a splendid proliferation of New England Asters!  I can't think of a better place to observe this beautiful species in all its color variations than the Burl Trail along the Kayaderosseras Creek.  And this is also the place to go to find the handsome Maximilian's Sunflower, a recent arrival to this site that is certainly burgeoning here.  Only a few of the gigantically towering stalks were bearing open blossoms today, but the plants were loaded with buds.  The show has just begun!

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

glad to see you're getting out so much. i've never seen the fruit of the Skunk Cabbage like that.