Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Farewell to Summer. Or Not.

Okay.  Labor Day has come and gone.  That means summer is over, doesn't it?  Heck no!  The sweltering heat remains in full force, unfortunately, at least for the next few days.  Longing to be outdoors, but hating this heat, I took my canoe to the Hudson yesterday, knowing I could douse myself with cool river water whenever I started to wilt.  But I also stopped off at Orra Phelps Nature Preserve on the way, wondering if maybe this heat had impelled the Fringed Gentians that grow there  to bloom this early.

At least the Orra Phelps Preserve is deeply shaded, and the rushing and bubbling sound of the stream that runs through it offers at least the suggestion of coolness.

Maybe this little Green Frog was feeling the heat, too, since it didn't seem to want to make the effort to hop away when I stuck my camera in close.

Sure enough, the Fringed Gentians were open!  Well, one or two of them were.

There are many more of these gorgeous royal-blue flowers yet to come, to judge by the abundance of buds that were swelling in the sandy open area where they grow.  I know of nowhere else in Saratoga County to find them.

I also love to visit Orra Phelps for the abundance of Indian Cucumber Root that grows along the stream.  This time of year, the top tier of leaves is decorated with splashes of rosy red, surmounted by clusters of blue-black berries.  A beautiful combination!

Thanks to recent rains, the forest floor is abounding with mushrooms now, and one of the most abundant at Orra Phelps was this lemon-yellow one, the Suillus americanus, also known by the common names of White Pine Bolete or Chicken-fat Suillus.  I think it looks rather like a lemon cheesecake, and it does have a lemony flavor when cooked.

Next stop, the Hudson River at Moreau, where it forms the northern boundary of Saratoga County.  Here, forested mountains fall straight to the water's edge, and pretty little islands dot the broad waters of the river.  The water was low yesterday, and it must have been low for a while, for this muddy flat area edging one island was covered with green grasses and flowering plants.  Most of the summer, this flat expanse had been under water.

Taking advantage of this exposure to sunlight and air, masses of Golden Pert were blooming among the sedges and grasses.  This is a plant that is quite happy to spend most of its days submerged, creating a carpet of green on the river's bottom beneath shallow water.  As the water level  falls, it will burst into bloom almost overnight, carpeting large areas with these tiny bright-yellow trumpets.

Pristine-white blooms of Arrowhead were also dotting this watery flat.

This kind of wet soil is exactly the habitat that this shrub called Buttonbush likes best.  Although its perfect spheres of white trumpet-shaped flowers had fallen, the cherry-red seed heads remained -- and were just as lovely.

The pink-satin flowers of Marsh St. Johnswort had also faded by now, but in their place were these even-more-colorful ruby-red seed pods.  I could see that some of the pods had already split open to spill the little brown seeds.

Paddling back to shore under overhanging trees, I was delighted to see numerous Closed Gentians gracefully bending over the banks, holding their lovely blue flowers right at eye level as I passed.

Higher up on the banks, bright blossoms of Sneezeweed shone like beacons from out of the dark shade.

As I pulled my canoe from the water, this Black Duck drake and his harem of hens seemed not the least bit disturbed by my nearby presence.


Lynn's mom said...

I'm looking forward to the seasons' changes with you! Jane

Woody Meristem said...

Oh to see fringed gentian again -- down here the deer have eliminated the only colony of which I was aware.

threecollie said...

Discovered Buttonbush at a place where we bird. I didn't know what it was but it looked as if it should be called that. When I looked it up it WAS. lol