Friday, September 17, 2021

Pure September

I grew up on a lake in Michigan, a middle-sized inland lake where my dad owned a marina and sold Chris-Craft inboard boats and Evinrude outboard motors.  So I feel a definite resonance with lakes, even though I've come to prefer small quiet motor-less lakes with unspoiled wooded shores, rather than the power-boat-roiled, cottage-crowded, summer-people-populated kind of lake I grew up on.  But come September,  even that busy, noisy lake would grow quiet, its waters stilled,  the lower sunlight gleaming on its glassy surface when I got home from school.  I was reminded of those long-ago days today, when I visited Moreau Lake State Park.  I sensed again that pure-September quietness, the sunlight glinting off still water, the sky a clearer, deeper blue, now that summer's more-humid air has cleared. A few folks lounged in chairs on the now-closed swimming beach, and one or two cast lines from the fishing bridge, but I met not a single soul as I made my way around the back bay of the lake.

The most abundant flowers blooming now along this bay are Heath Asters (Symphyotrichum ericoides), a small-flowered, tiny-leaved white aster crowding the shore between the damp sand and the forested banks. These flowers had many insect visitors today, most of them smallish back wasps with thin yellow stripes on their abdomens. (They were too shy to pose for a photo.)

The most beautiful aster blooming now anywhere is New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), but  I found only two plants of these asters along the shore today, their vivid purple flowers radiant against the dark shade of the woods.

Another showy flower on the shore was this Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), its gracefully arching stems bearing clusters of bright-yellow flowers in every leaf axil.

  Occasional plants of Slender Gerardia (Agalinis tenuifolia) still held a few of its pretty freckle-faced flowers.

Most of the other flowers I found took a searching eye to discover because they are so small. This tiny bloom of Canada St. John's Wort (Hypericum canadense) is a case in point.

Another wee one was this Small Forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa), a native species much smaller than the introduced garden plant of the same name.

Most of the Water Smartweeds (Persicaria amphibia) floating on the lake appeared to be well past blooming.  Luckily, I was able to zoom my camera sufficiently to find this solitary tuft of pretty pink flowers.

The small native roses that thrive on this shore were also long past blooming, but these shiny red rosehips were just as colorful as their pink flowers had been.

Many Pickerel Frogs leapt away from my footfalls, but this one stayed put once it landed in the water, allowing me to move in close for a photo.

Whoa!  I never saw this big beautiful Northern Water Snake until it suddenly sped off at great speed toward the water before I could step on it, its beautifully patterned skin a successful camouflage among the sand and dry grasses.  I wonder if it had had its eye on that frog for its dinner!  I rarely see this color on this species, which usually has skin so dark it appears almost black.

As I rounded the bay and reached the opposite shore, I paused to admire the mountain's reflection in the still water.

When I reached the south-facing sandy shore of the main part of the lake, I was surprised to find it so empty of visitors, especially on this beautiful blue-sky day.  There's usually at least one dog-owner here hurling sticks for the dog to retrieve. I felt a twinge of nostalgia, remembering the September-emptied shores of my childhood lake, the cottage-owners gone back to the city, their children (including many summer friends) back to schools far away.

Here was one last plant find to cheer me, and it's a real rare one! Rare in New York State, anyway, where it's rated an Endangered species, but not along the shore of this lake, where one of our state's rare-plant monitors and I found thousands of specimens of this Small-flowered Dwarf Bulrush (Cyperus subsquarossus) three years ago. I was delighted to see that this tiny flatsedge was still thriving, and loaded with seed-bearing spikelets.

Here was a final peaceful image as I ended my walk. This fisherman was trolling for fish, his line trailing behind him as he propelled his solo canoe, not with a sputtering gas-powered motor but by his own silent paddling. The afternoon sun caused his translucent Kevlar canoe to glow like a lantern, all beautifully reflected in the still water.  Pure September!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I love your posts. I live in Ontario, but it is so much the same.