Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Muted Colors on the River

Where the heck is our autumn color?  Hey, it's October already, and hardly a leaf has turned its vibrant red or gold.  I went paddling on the Hudson today, a gorgeous blue-sky, summer-warm day that was nearly summer-green as well, as the forested hills along the river revealed.

I paddled back into the tupelo swamp behind Three-pine Island, expecting to see the Black Tupelos ablaze with their gorgeous lipstick-red brilliance.  But even they were rather muted, their normally scarlet leaves more of a dull burgundy red.

On closer view, the leaves were a rich, deep burgundy red, and the twigs were hung with blue-black fruits that dangled on ruby-red pedicels.

I remembered where a Flowering Dogwood grows, and I paddled into its quiet cove, expecting to see it blazing crimson along the sunlit shore.  But no.  Just a muted blush to its leaves, so far.  Oh well.  Maybe I'm just too early to start looking for autumn brilliance.

The rippling reflections, anyway, provided abundant beauty.

The Winterberry bushes were certainly adorned with brilliant fruit.

As were the Partridgeberry vines that covered a grassy bank.

And look at this!  A tiny low-bush blueberry shrub has put forth new flowers, pretty white bells dangling from reddening leaves.  Has our recent spate of summer-like heat tricked this normally spring-blooming shrub into blooming again?  But then I remembered that this particular shrub does  this late-blooming thing every fall.  I wonder why?

Witch Hazel, however,  is always a late bloomer, and its flowers are just now unfurling their narrow ribbon-like yellow petals.  And its fruits that emerged a year ago are just about to pop open and shoot out their seeds.  I once read that the scientific name for Witch Hazel's genus -- Hamamelis -- means "together with fruit," referring to the simultaneous occurrence of flowers with the maturing fruit of the previous year.

While hauling my canoe up the woodland trail from the river, I chanced to see this split-open fallen log, its dark damp interior lined with a substance the color of fire.  Oh my, what could that be?

A closer look revealed the tiny orbs of some kind of slime mold, too young and undeveloped as yet to be identified as to species. I pulled off a small piece of the rotting wood that was covered with the  shiny round fruiting bodies, intending to keep them for observation. This little spider emerged from the chunk of wood I detached, but I gently tipped it off to return to the log.  Such a cutie!


The Furry Gnome said...

I've been noticing the same thing around here, very few colours yet, even though half the ash trees have already lost their leaves.

Peter O'Toole said...

Always enjoy your blog Mrs. D. Gets me outside to pllaces I would like to be RIGHT NOW!!

Woody Meristem said...

Looks like the on-going lack of rain will cause many (most?) trees' leaves to exhibit minimal color or just turn brown and drop. That's what's already happened to almost all of our sugar maples.