Tuesday, August 14, 2012


July 25, 2012
Hudson River, South Glens Falls, NY

Always the general show of things
Floats in review before my mind,
And such true love and reverence brings,
That sometimes I forget that I am blind.
~ Henry David Thoreau poem Inspiration

As if to drive home the theme of the last blog entry’s quote,
Nature offered up more delights on my next visit to the River, just three days later.

This time, when Jackie and I set out early in the morning, a light but steady wind was ruffling up the water.

Oh heck I thought, we won’t see anything today !
Gone was the placid face of the river, where every ripple betrays some interesting creature. Even the flowers along the shoreline were thrashing around too much for any decent photos. And forget seeing dragonflies or other delicate insects.

For me it would also mean some tougher paddling, as my kayak and paddle would have to fight the wind. (It never seems to bother Jackie in her Hornbeck.)

We paddled upriver anyway, just a short distance today.

First, we lingered in the quiet lagoon that was once a holding-pond for log drives.
Not five minutes into our excursion, I paused to see what might be growing on the artificial barrier island that divides the shallow lagoon in two.

Jackie turned and saw me speechless (a rarity) – I was pointing to a tall sprig of Wild Senna – something that, earlier this month, we had paddled quite some distance to see in another section of the river.

This  skinny island was covered with it ! And I swear, I didn’t see this blooming last week when I passed this very spot. I must have been blind !

It just shows you what happens when you forego expectations.  Nature is full of surprises.

Even if they are not a rarity, and even if I've been seeing them all summer,
I am always transported by visions of water-lilies.

After some stiff paddling for a short distance upriver, we poked into another larger lagoon, where there were painted turtles basking. Even now, they are so cagey that you barely see them and plop ! -- they are gone.
Jackie espied a larger one, just hanging out on a log.

Having nothing better to do, we made a game of it, and edged closer
and closer in our boats, to see just how long Mr. Turtle would tolerate our presence.
Well, you can get closer by using the zoom lens....

But as you can see, he let us get pretty close !

“Is he alive?” Jackie wondered.
Yes he was, and after a long time having us gaze at him from different angles, he waved us off, and we were more than happy to leave him to his sunbathing.

Then we stowed our boats, and drove back over the bridge and around to Haviland Cove Park, almost directly across the river from our paddling-spot.

There was a river-plant I wanted to show to Jackie, and it turned out to be a lovely place to sit and have our lunch.

The wind was still skirling about, and a dark leaf landed on the muddy shore.
Only it was not a leaf, but a Giant Swallowtail butterfly.

Madame Butterfly was intent on sampling the mineral-rich mud in one particular spot (this is called puddling) and, like the turtle, she patiently posed for photos. Even close-ups !
(Click on the second photo to see the wing-scales.)

Here’s what we nature-nerds would consider an “action shot.” 

But as you can see, such dedication is worth it !

One last treat to share from today – as we were heading to the take-out, I saw movement in a very shallow spot on the far side of the lagoon. I approached carefully, sure of what I had seen – two snapping turtles ! Oops, looked like a private moment...

They saw me too, and immediately ducked underwater. If a snapper doesn’t want to be seen, you ain’t gonna see him.
They don’t splash, or make any noise at all, they just sink silently, and hang out just deep enough that you can’t see them beneath the surface glare.

But being a certified Turtle Monitor, I knew they were there.  Turtles can teach us patience.
I drifted up closer and waited. That was worth it too.


1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the photos of the Giant Swallowtail and unbothered Painted Turtle! Also liked your "..when you forego expectations, Nature is full of surprises".