Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paths of Her Own

July 29, 2012
Putty Pond, north of North Creek, NY

It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him.
He knew the country like a fox or a bird,
and passed through it as freely
by paths of his own. …

One must submit abjectly to such a guide,
and the reward was great.
      Emerson’s eulogy for Thoreau, May 9, 1862

I’ve only gone a-walking with Evelyn Greene twice, but each time these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, describing his friend Henry Thoreau, came to mind.  She is indeed “such a guide,” and today she was taking Jackie and me up to Putty Pond, near Thirteenth Lake.

Well, at least it was where Putty Pond used to be a long time ago.

Now it is a wet meadow, and home to a crop of Hooded Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiani),  a native orchid that blooms at this time of year. Though it was dwarfed by various grasses and sedges, its flower spikes were little lights all over the sunny meadow. A new plant, for me.  

And there were familiar plants, too. I was admiring the maroon top-leaves of this Boneset plant, and didn’t see the little Crab Spider hiding there,
till I got home and saw the photo on the big screen.

We high-stepped here and there around the meadow, trying not to tread on anything.

Evelyn was first to notice this striking and striped Dragonfly.
We admired it for some time, from every angle, without ever determining its name. Some sort of Mosaic or Swamp Darner perhaps?

It was quite a hot day, and we stopped at the Garnet Hill Lodge. There the affable innkeeper, Don, stopped to chat with us, while we sipped iced teas on the Porch, and took in the view toward Thirteenth Lake.

The Lodge is open all year, and trails head out to various wilderness sites from here. I had never been here before, but it would be nice to come again.

After our re-freshment, Evelyn led us along a short trail that leads to the former Hooper Mine.  Jackie and I happily trotted behind, having no idea where she was leading us, but not caring.

Just a short distance through the woods to a large large opening.

Here were red rocks that reminded me of Utah !

But the real “red rocks” that the mining company was interested in back in the 1890s were actually the gems imbedded in these cliffs – garnets --which gave their name to Garnet Hill, Ruby Mountain and other nearby places.

The three of us walked around in the bottom of what is now a quiet amphitheatre, trying to imagine the crash and rumbles of a working mine.
(It ceased operation in the twenties.) We looked about to see what sort of plants would grow here.

If there was any question about what we saw, Evelyn would stop right there, and pull a well-thumbed copy of Newcomb’s from her backpack, which was heavy with field-guides of all sorts.

It’s the time of year that Pearly Everlasting is in full bloom. While not as fragrant as its cousin, Sweet Everlasting,  one can imagine it gracing Victorian parlors nonetheless.

There were tall tamaracks, and tiny toadlets too.

We took the long way 'round back to Evelyn’s house, and stopped to take in a view of the High Peaks, far to the north.  But not all that far from home.
And that is our great fortune.


  1. What a wonderful time! 'Love the last photo!

  2. A great way to spend a day. Thought of you Sunday as I "chased" turtles on Kent Lake.

  3. Ah, those hooded ladies'-tresses orchids make me want to get back in the car and drive all the way back to New York! It's another Ohio rarity I've yet to see and photograph but fingers crossed this fall I'll have some luck finding it here.