Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Getting Frosty Out There!

After holiday hosting duties had kept me indoors most of last week, I was really eager to get outdoors today, especially since the weather was clear and sunny. It seemed a great day to walk along the gracefully curving Spier Falls Road, with the nearby Hudson River reflecting that beautiful blue sky.

At one point I left the road to climb up the course of a waterfall that tumbles down the mountains that rise along the road.

With our lack of rainfall this year, I expected the course of the waterfall to be merely a trickle, but no, there was still enough water in the stream to tumble and splash among the mossy boulders.

I was surprised to find the forest floor here thick with frost on the north-facing slopes, and the frost's starry crystals outlined all the leafy vegetation.  The bright-green of this Marginal Wood Fern's frond looked so pretty rimmed with white.

This mound of Delicate Fern Moss was also spangled with frost.

As were these gold-and-brown fans of Stereum fungus.

One branch of a native Yew shrub hung over the splashing water, and it was completely encased in crystalline ice.

With all this frost and ice persisting well into the afternoon, I wondered if I might find some Frostweed curls in the open areas under a powerline that runs along the top of Mud Pond.  This area is not far away along Spier Falls Road, so I set off in that direction, stopping for just a moment to take in the serene beauty of late-afternoon light on the quiet river.

Since the curls of frozen sap that form at the base of Frostweed stems are so delicate and fine, I hardly dared hope I would find them today.  It was already past three in the afternoon, and the day had been sunny.  Wouldn't they have melted away by now?  But lo and behold, I found many Frostweed plants with these frothy curls still intact!  This action of sap escaping from splits in the stems to form curls of frozen vapor is the very feature that gives this native plant (Crocanthemum canadense) its common name. As far as I know, it is the only plant we have in this part of the country that can do this.

Much of the area under the powerline was still spangled with frost, adding interest and beauty to all the variety of mosses and lichens that flourish there.  I was especially enchanted by this frosted pale violet-gray mushroom rising from amid a patch of Haircap moss.

The bright-red tops of Cladonia lichens are always a delight to find, and today they were made even prettier by the presence of frosty crystals.

I know that it's hard to say good-bye to this late-autumn's lingering warmth.   But finding all these sparkling treasures today reminded me once more that every season has its delights. Even if you have to search a little harder to find them.


The Furry Gnome said...

Beautiful frost pictures! I'm fascinated with the Frostweed.

threecollie said...

How I love your lovely photos! That one of the serene water stopped me in my scrolling to just partake and enjoy.