For fear that the Hudson might have been mobbed with boaters last Sunday, I almost decided not to paddle there, despite the day being perfect for doing so. But I'm awfully glad I changed my mind. There WERE many boaters on the river, to be sure, but all were other paddlers, not power-boaters whipping up wakes, and all of them were quietly paddling out in the middle of the river, not ambling along close to the shady banks as I was.
I always amble along close to shore, for that's how I find the marvelous number of wildflowers that crowd the riverbanks, here in this catchment between the Sherman Island and Spier Falls hydroelectric dams. And I was on a quest today, to find a particular flower. A few years ago, I had found the little native orchid called Shining Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes lucida) along this shore, and I hoped to find it again.
The Shining Ladies' Tresses is our earliest Ladies' Tresses species to bloom in this region, and it can be distinguished from all other members of its genus by the yellow lower lips of the flowers of its spikes. And there it was! There was only this solitary plant, which is all I have ever found at this location, growing so close to the water's edge, I always fear it might get washed away when the river floods. Some years I don't find it. But happily, this year, I did!