(I'm catching up!)
Last September, while paddling with Rick on the section of the Hudson River which flows through Moreau Park, I saw a tree with long, toothed leaves along the shoreline. It was larger than any of the American Chestnut sprouts I have ever seen.
Then I saw the brownish burrs.
Of course I knew what it was, from pictures in an old old tree identification book, though I had never seen one before. Lots of people have never seen one – since the chestnut blight has all but wiped out most of the species. Small trees still arise from stumps, but most never live long enough to flower, or produce nuts.
And there they were, hanging over my head like forbidden fruit.
I read of a naturalist who said, “it’s like looking up and seeing a passenger pigeon flying by.”
I was pretty excited about it that day. Since then, we’ve located more mature trees within Moreau Park. Unfortunately, this flowering can be a sign of a tree in distress – the next year, they may be dead. I am just beginning to learn about these trees, once called “the redwoods of the east.” Many knowledgeable people are working on ways to keep the chestnut from going completely extinct, such as the folks at the American Chestnut Foundation.
June is the flowering time for chestnuts (so that old old book said,) and Jackie offered to accompany me on a river paddle today. I am pretty much of a weenie on big open water, even a pondy section of river like this. So I appreciated her company. It sure was a nice day to be on the river!
Delicate dreadlocks of flowers.
Complain as I will about having to stop and go in to work - at least I am grateful that my schedule allows me to be floating in a quiet cove on a sunny day, at an hour when many people are stuck indoors behind a desk.