Sunday, November 29, 2015

Low Water, Lovely River

I took my own advice on Thanksgiving Day and went out for a walk among the "leaping greenly spirits of trees" (see my last post), and I enjoyed it immensely, even if that "blue true dream of sky" was instead a pale pearly gray.  One of the places I wandered that day was the shore of the Hudson River near the Sherman Island Boat Launch, where I found the river exceedingly low, just as low as it had been this past summer while work was being done on a dam.  Normally, the water would rise right up to the treeline pictured here in this photo.

We did have that "blue true dream of sky" today (Sunday), and I returned today to the Hudson, this time to an area further downstream where the river runs behind a large island, to see if the water still remained low.  Yes, it was indeed low.  But lovely, nevertheless, and inviting me to explore.

Although the exposed mudflats were relatively firm, they were a bit squishy in places, so I was glad to reach the part of the shoreline where I could find dry footing atop flattened rocks.

These rocks are normally well under water, and it was interesting to see how the constant flowing current had carved fine ripples in the stone.

In places, the mudflats appeared to be carpeted a pretty pink, and a closer inspection revealed masses of baby plants, rosy pink and pale green and spangled with drops of water.  I know that these are one of the St. Johnsworts, and I'm guessing they are Pale St. Johnswort (Hypericum ellipticum), because in summer I see masses of this bright-yellow flower right here in this very same spot. I'd never realized how pretty there were as babies.

Along the river, I found many shrubs adding their colorful presence to the otherwise dark woods.  Many Winterberry bushes were exploding with brilliant red berries.

A few deep-blue Nannyberries still hung on this Sweet Viburnum shrub.

Birds and other woodland creatures had long ago devoured the High-bush Blueberries, but their new leaf buds were as rosy-red as many other shrubs' fruits.

And talk about rosy red!  Just look at the vibrant color of these Striped Maple twigs!

We can still find lots of greenery in these woods, and we will all winter long.  This boulder crowned with Rock Polypody will look like this even when surrounded by deep snow.

And the same can be said for these clumps of mixed mosses and lichens.

Or this boulder carpeted thickly with green.

Although this Orange Jelly Fungus will freeze hard as a rock as temperatures fall, it will retain its brilliant color through most of the winter, nor will the trailing wisps of green moss that share its rotting log begin to fade as winter comes on.

The daylight, however, was fading fast as I hurriedly made my way back to my car through a deepening gloom.  But when a low sun lit the tops of the trees out on the island and caused the gray branches to ignite as if on fire, I just had to stop and gaze at this moment of perfect beauty.


The Furry Gnome said...

What an inspiring look at a late November day! Amazing how you found bits of colour even now.

catharus said...

Beautiful! I can see and sense the serene beauty and solitude! Thank-you!

threecollie said...

So much awesome in just one post! We saw Winterberry too this week. How I love it. I'm wondering if it would grow on our place or if our soil is too sweet for it.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks Furry and catharus and threecollie for your kind comments. It pleases me enormously to share my delight in nature with you. Regarding the needs of Winterberry, it's true that they prefer a moist and acidic soil, but there are some horticultural varieties that can tolerate more neutral and drier soils, although they will thrive more readily if well watered and provided with acidic mulch like pine needles. Try to find a nursery that specializes in native plants and follow their advice.

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful photos -- thank you for finding beauty in small things.