Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Holiday Hiatus

Two weeks without posting a blog!  Where the heck have I been?  Well, there were holiday preparations, then holiday travel, then holiday house guests, and finally, the holiday head cold -- all conspiring to keep me out of the woods for the holiday duration.  And despite the family fun and festive frolics of the holiday season, there were days I really missed being out-of-doors.  For example, we had the most beautiful snowstorm of any I remember in years -- big puffy snowflakes that clung to the trees and piled up in pillowy mounds on the ground --  and all I could do was gaze at it out my window:

But today I was free to venture outdoors.  No more house guests or house work or head cold to keep me at home.
And guess what?  It rained!

Ah, but what matter?  When I live in such a beautiful part of the world, a little rain only adds to the beauty.  So I donned my rubber boots and my raincoat and ventured out along the river, where water droplets shone like tiny Christmas lights in the trees,  the ice crystals lining the banks were glistening like tinsel, and the mist that shrouded the mountains only magnified their majesty,

I look forward now to what the new year will bring.  And I also look back to recall some great times in the year just past.  One of the greatest times was when five botanist friends from far-flung states came to visit for several days and joined my friend Sue and me in exploring some favorite northern New York woodlands and waterways.  Did we have fun?  Well, what do you think? Here's my blogpost recounting our many adventures, and here's a photo of us delighting in one of our botanical finds.

Speaking of botanical finds, who would think of a Dandelion as a plant to be sought-after and collected?  It's true, no self-respecting professional botanist would deign to collect and mount this ubiquitous weed, which is why there has been no record of its presence in Saratoga County.  But there will be in the future, since this amateur wildflower nerd (me!) volunteered this past summer to help fill in those plants still missing from from the New York Flora Association Plant Atlas for my home county.  I'll never find them all -- the state botanist sent me a list of ONE THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX unrecorded plants! -- but I did manage to collect about a hundred of them this past year.  And I hope to collect about that many again when the spring flowers come into bloom.  Here's a blogpost recounting the start of my search last July, a search that added delightful purpose to my wildflower hunts all summer and into the fall.

Not all of my floral finds this year were ubiquitous weeds.  In fact, this pretty white violet  -- the Primrose-leaved Violet (Viola primulifolia var. primulifolia) -- is one of the rarest plants in all of New York, and I found it growing along the Hudson River in Warren County, far distant from any other place this native violet has been found in New York State.  I was actually a bit annoyed when I first found it, since it wasn't the violet I had been searching for and didn't find.  But luckily I took a picture of it and asked some experts what it might be, since I didn't recognize it.  Another fabulous floral find!  My fellow wildflower nerds will know how much this means to me, and why I recount its finding as one of the highlights of my year.  Here's my blogpost recounting the day I found it.

When I look back over my nature adventures of the past year, it's hard to choose just a few highlights, since I live among so many splendors, and every day of the year offers a multitude of delights to the naturalist. But I would have to say that one of the crowning events of my nature year was receiving permission from New York State Parks to explore the tiny boggy islands of Lake Bonita in order to survey the special plants that grow there, including some beautiful orchids.  This lovely unspoiled lake was only recently acquired by Moreau Lake State Park, and the park has forbidden boating in order to maintain the lake's pristine quality.  So it was an incredible privilege to be granted a special "scientific research permit" to paddle there, and to be able to enlist the assistance of Sue Pierce and Nancy Slack  (shown here in their canoes) to conduct the plant surveys. To see some of the remarkable plants we found, you can visit two blog posts:  one when I first paddled the lake with state park natural-resource steward Casey Holzworth and another when Sue and Nancy came along as research assistants.


The Furry Gnome said...

Nice to look back at your botanical adventures. That last picture makes me dream of spring.

lisa said...

I was a little concerned about your absence. Glad you're feeling better. Your black and white shots make the grey of winter beautiful and mysterious.