August 4, 2011
Ice Meadows of the Hudson River
I am still a learner, not a teacher,
feeding somewhat omnivorously,
browsing both stalk & leaves.
HDT letter to H.G.O. Blake, 1856
I love browsing --but not the kind one does in a retail store. That’s not my idea of fun at all. But a trip to the Ice Meadows – with the Thursday Naturalists – now that’s more like it !
It was a long way for them to travel, but for me it is just over a half- hour’s drive up the road. Unfortunately, I had only an hour or two to spend there, since it was a work day for me. Still, there was plenty so see & learn.
The Ice Meadows is a special plant community. Things grow here that are found much further north. Plants one sees commonly a few miles away may be unrecognizable, due to their adaptations to the harsh environment. Things bloom here earlier -- or later -- than elsewhere. So it’s always full of surprises.
Like this Smaller Purple Fringed Orchid, hiding inside a clump of stunted alder. It was a bit tattered, but still a novelty. They are long-past blooming, a few miles downriver.
Purple seems to be the season’s next dominant flower color.
The first to greet us was a flock of Kalm’s Lobelia. They are very small cousins of the showier Cardinal Flower.
Next to them were the larger Harebells. (this one had some sort of beetle in it. Not sure what is going on there...)
Then again, the yellow flowers - formed in the heats of July - seemed to be holding their own. We stepped gingerly past a profusion of the tiny stalks of Yellow-Eyed Grass.
And past the more robust sunflowers, this host to a Pennsylvania Leatherwing, a valuable pollinator.
There were many little rocky pools, where sundews spread their sticky hands -
This morning, I got my wish -- having waited a whole year now -- of seeing the Canadian Burnet, so common here, in soft-spikey bloom.
And I saw plenty of critters, too –
Damselfly (Eastern Forktail)
Dragonfly (a Rusty Snaketail, I think)
Syrphid fly - one of those little bee-imitators
And another hopper - not sure whether this is a green frog or a mink frog - green, methinks, seeing that dorso-lateral fold & leg stripes-
The group of Naturalists spread out, and contentedly explored the riverside, resembling more than anything a family of deer browsing.
We had been given the gift of a beautiful summer day, one to be savored.
6 months ago