So much for a white Christmas this year. More like a soggy and gray one. But that gray sogginess actually mirrored my mood, since once again as it did last year, Covid caused the cancellation of our plans for a festive gathering with family and friends. Oh well, at least those who fell ill were fully vaxed and boosted, so their symptoms were relatively mild. And so far, I have escaped it. But my mood stayed glum for so long, I finally decided I needed some woodsy, watery therapy to lift my spirits. So despite yet another gloomily-gray day, off I went yesterday to the Hudson River side of Moreau Lake State Park. And all I had to do was step from my car on the shore of the river to begin to feel peace and joy infuse my heart. Who wouldn't be soothed by such serene beauty as this?
Since the river's too cold to risk paddling now, I chose to walk a portion of the Cottage Park Trail, with its trailhead just across the road from the river. This trail takes its name from the remnants of now fallen buildings that once housed the workers who constructed the Spier Falls Dam on the nearby Hudson near the close of the 19th Century.
When I saw these small tan discs crowding together on a de-barked small treetrunk, I recognized them as the fungus called Hophornbeam Disc Fungus (Aleurodiscus oaksii). But since the bark was mostly shed, I could not distinguish the host tree as either a Hop Hornbeam or a species of oak. This fungus is known to grow on either tree species.
Before the Cottage Park Trail starts to ascend the mountainous heights, it crosses an open area beneath the power lines that carry electricity produced by the hydroelectric Spier Falls Dam on the nearby river. The area under the powerlines is kept mowed to prevent trees growing into the wires, and this open area is home to many sun-loving native meadow flowers during the warmer months.
One of the plants I did NOT see last spring was the species that now dangled abundantly over the face of this gigantic rocky outcropping. What plant could that be?
I was surprised by how many people I met on this trail today, including several people who witnessed me down on my hands and knees peering at the underside of some fungi. And surprise of all surprises, these people recognized me from this blog, and were kind enough to tell me how eagerly they followed it and learned so much from it. My spirits were already high from simply having walked in this marvelous woods, but now they truly soared. I continue to keep this blog, if only for my own documentary purposes, but knowing that others learn from it is truly rewarding to me. Walking back to my car, I felt I was drifting along on Cloud Nine!
Back on the riverside, I lingered a while, feeling blissed-out by the serene beauty I beheld, even on this darkish day, growing darker now as the afternoon grew late.