Friday, January 8, 2021

A Short Walk On the Side of the Road

 I awoke on Wednesday (January 6) to the grand news that a Black and a Jew -- both members of the very people singled out for murder by the Ku Klux Klan -- would now be the two U.S. Senators representing the state of Georgia. Georgia, the very heart of the Confederacy! Could the Civil War truly be coming to an end at last? And would our newly elected President now have a Senate that could aid him in bringing peace and healing to our nation? What joyful news!   But my morning elation was shortly dispelled by the horrors happening at our nation's Capitol Building all that afternoon and evening, as ignorant mobs smashed their way inside and attempted to prohibit the final vote that would make the election official.  Churning emotions sure interfered with my equanimity, and continued to do so on Thursday. Only a walk outdoors could help to calm me. What better place to go than to beautiful Spier Falls Road, which follows the Hudson River where the Palmertown Mountains fall directly to the river's  banks?

Many steep rocky ledges line the road, the craggy rocks dampened and darkened by constantly seeping springs.  This time of year, these dripping rocks are decorated with cascading icicles.

Tiny rills tumble down the mountainsides, and even in winter, open water dances from rock to rock, splashing droplets on overhanging twigs until the twigs are bulbous with pearlescent ice.

But the most spectacular ice awaits at several quarries, where back at the start of the 20th Century, rock was blasted out of the mountainside to provide material for the building of Spier Falls Dam,  which lies across the road from the quarries. On these cliffside ledges, seeping springs create exquisite bridal veils of icicles, with some of the icicles reaching lengths of  8 feet or more. As the winter continues, the ice builds up to massive thicknesses and acquires a beautiful shade of blue.

While walking in the woods beneath this cascading ice, I happened upon a fallen limb protruding from the snow that looked as if it were covered with bunches of carved ivory flowers.  A closer look revealed that these ruffled "flowers" were actually the undersides of a fungus called Crimped Gill (Plicaturopsis crispa).  I would guess it's pretty obvious how this fungus acquired that vernacular name.

I turned the limb over to see the tops of the fungus, a more colorful tawny orange that fades to ivory at the edge.

Where a constant stream of dripping water had erased all the snow from the forest floor, I came upon this colorful Wild Strawberry plant (Fragaria virginiana) looking quite fresh and springlike, although its fur-covered green leaves and red stems both looked as if they were dressed for winter.

I was pleased to encounter such a reminder of spring at this dark time. I'm going to embrace this find as a promise of happier days that lie ahead.


The Furry Gnome said...

You always find beauty wherever you walk!

suep said...

Nature is a great healer !
I miss walking with you !
but for the moment, those solitary walks
will have to do.
as HDT put it, just a day earlier, all those years ago:

"I thus dispose of the superfluous
and see things as they are,
grand and beautiful.
I wish to get the Concord,
the Massachusetts,
the America,
out of my head
and be sane a part of every day."

Woody Meristem said...

Yes indeed, it looks like better days are ahead. Nice photos of a fungus I've never seen, or at least never noticed.

Momo said...

Thank you for these lovely reminders that our natural world holds joy and wonders, soothing salve for those who notice, every day of the year, as it has for eons!

Unknown said...

Just getting to this today, thank you for this breath of air. I love how you notice the big, small, and tiny wonders around us and the photos are exquisite.