No need to check the calendar to know that Fall has arrived. Even though this past Monday grew summer warm by noon, the morning was sweater-chilly when I stood on the shore of Oliver Pond and noticed the just-changing colors in the pondside trees. I had come to this isolated Essex County pond to enjoy a paddle with my friend Ruth Brooks, and we both stood enchanted by the scene before us, almost reluctant to stir these mirror-still waters that were rendered even more quintessentially Adirondack by the haunting call of a loon.
Although the color-change in the standing trees had just begun, this scarlet Red Maple leaf afloat on the pond was a foretaste of the brilliantly beautiful season just ahead.
But no matter if our flower finds were few and far between. We still found much beauty to marvel at on many floating "nursery logs" that were covered with a rich and colorful variety of mosses, lichens, and leaves. This particular log was populated by a huge colony of red-topped lichens called Lipstick Powderhorn (Cladonia macilenta).
The very light was dazzling today, the sunshine beaming through crystal-clear Adirondack-autumn air. As the breeze picked up and set the shoreline thickets of Slender Sedge (Carex lasiocarpa) to dancing, the reflected light danced along with the gleaming leaves.
And here's the person who told us about this loon family, this yellow-hatted woman (left) named Ellie George, whom we met just as we arrived at the pond and she was leaving after paddling here to check on the resident loons. Ellie is a very active observer of loons in the Adirondacks, monitoring their health and behavior on a number of lakes and ponds near her home on nearby Paradox Lake. In fact, she and her husband have participated in rescuing loons that have been injured, many of those injuries caused by the barbed lures and tangling lines abandoned by careless fishermen.
My friend Ruth (right) is a passionate birder and already knew Ellie and about Ellie's work, and Ellie recognized my name from having often seen my blog. It turned out we all had many mutual friends among the birders and botanizers and other naturalists of our region of New York State. A small world, yes, but one that is filled with amazing and smart and informed and dedicated folks who do what they can to protect the plants and animals and their habitats. I am so grateful that there are so many of them. And especially that I can call so many of them my friends.