I'd been hearing tales that one of my favorite Adirondack ponds had been mobbed by visitors this past pandemic year, and that they'd trashed this lovely site so bad that it was no longer a place I'd want to paddle. But that sun-dazzled rainless day last Friday tempted me to brave what I might find. And I'm glad I took that chance! There wasn't another soul on the pond when I arrived, nor was there a beer can nor bait box littering either the parking area or the shore. The serene, only slightly breeze-riffled water reflected the puffy white clouds and the bright-blue sky, inviting me to set off in my solo canoe to follow the forested edges of the pond.
Nestling my little canoe right up to the rocks, I can marvel at all the beautiful shapes and colors of the shoreline plants. On this day, I took great delight in the brilliant masses of Bunchberry fruits (Cornus canadensis).
I had barely taken five strokes of my paddle before I saw my first orchid: a Small Club-spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata), its cluster of light-green florets standing out against the deep shade of the woods. And this was the first of dozens I would espy as I inched my way along this forested shore.
Here's a closer look at the Little Club-spur Orchid's greenish-white flowers, held erect on slender stems, each floret displaying the long spur distinctive to this species of native orchid.
A particularly impressive patch of Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) was arrayed at the base of a tree stump.
Oh, but talk about BLUE! And what a surprise it was, to see the beautiful Narrow-leaved Gentian (Gentiana linearis) already beginning to bloom! It seems weeks early to begin to see this radiantly blue flower.
Another native flower that thrives on these rocky banks is Dalibarda (Rubus repens), a low-growing plant with heart-shaped leaves and flowers so brilliantly white they are difficult to photograph without them being over-exposed. Another of its names is Dewdrops, a pretty name for a pretty flower.
After pulling my boat ashore, I walked through a patch of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), hoping to find a Monarch caterpillar or two. Not yet did I find any caterpillars, but several adult Fritillary Butterflies were very busy sampling the nectar of many flower clusters.
This spindly-legged creature, most commonly known as a Daddy Long-legs or Harvestman, was resting atop the developing fruits of an Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana). A Harvestman is not a spider, although it does belong to the same family of Arachnids. Like spiders, they do hunt other insects, but not by spinning webs. Instead they deposit a glue-like substance that traps the insects they hope to devour. We larger creatures have nothing to fear from them, since they are not venomous nor do they bite humans.