Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crystalline Botany

[from “The Second November” : December 2011]

December 25, 2011
Moreau Lake State Park

In the winter,
the botanist needs not confine himself
to his books and herbarium,
and give over his outdoor pursuits,
but may study a new department
of vegetable physiology,
what may be called crystalline botany, then.

    HDT, The Natural History of Massachusetts, 1842

It was Christmas Day, and I had a day off, after a long long week at work.
As is our usual custom, Rick came over from Vermont for the holiday.
We both wanted to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.
So we went for a walk at Moreau Lake, even though there was STILL no snow, the lake had not yet frozen, and the sky was dreary and damp.

We parked the car and walked in past the gate. The road to the beach is closed in winter. But you can walk in, and we ambled down the hill,
not having any plans exactly.
Just past the Warming Hut, we took a sharp left turn to visit what I call Zen Brook.

Red Oak Ridge trail crosses the brook, at the foot of a steep hill.
The brook tumbles down the slope in the form of mini-waterfalls and
little meditation pools.

Many folks pause here to look up the hill, admire the brook, and then keep following the trail as it continues away through the woods.
At the little bridge, we left the trail, and climbed slowly up one side of the brook.

It’s one of several places I know of in the park to see liverwort in all its scaly beauty. Or as we call it, “lizard-wort.”

But at this time of year, that’s about it for plants.
So it’s time for ... Crystalline Botany!

It’s interesting to observe how water moves down the hill in little steps.

I love the way moving water somehow turns to ice.

And the various forms it takes.

Lacy ice,

Spikey ice,

And my favorite, bubbly ice!

We hung out at the brook for a while, taking photos and just enjoying the simple beauty. Its gurgling sound was soothing to the soul.

I had come here a few days earlier, to see if the Big Lake was frozen over yet. When I arrived that day, it was plenty cold, but a stiff breeze was blowing.
No ice.
It had been too warm for any of the local lakes to freeze yet, in this unusual winter.

I walked a while along the roadway, then circled back to return to the lakeshore.
The wind had stopped, and there was an eerie cold calm.

I stood on the shoreline, where an hour earlier, there had been choppy waves and very wet water.
To my surprise, the water was changing, as I stood there watching.
The surface was full of weird designs --

as the water became something between a liquid and a solid.

The water was gelling, right before my eyes.
It was like watching Jack Frost at work.

1 comment:

  1. Sue, I stumbled onto your blog and saw this about ice. Cool stuff. In January I started my Sunday Slide Show series with 'The Many Faces of Ice".

    It is a wonder that is overlooked by almost everyone. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

    Peter Bowden