Monday, February 10, 2014

Shadows and Ice

February 2, 2014
Hudson River Ice Meadows, 
Warrensburg, NY

A thick fog.
The trees and woods look well through it.
You are inclined to walk in the woods for objects.
They are draped with mist,
and you hear the sound of it dripping from them.
It is a lichen day.
… all the world seems a great lichen
and to grow like one today.
   HDT Journal, February 5, 1853

Happy Ground-Hog’s Day ! 
Though Phil saw his shadow this morning, it was  plenty cloudy here today,
and I was not able to see my own.
It was a bit warmer – in the tropical ‘20s –
and there was time today to meet Jackie and drive up to see the fabled Ice Meadows.

First stop -- the woods on the east side of the river.
Plantation pines soared overhead, 

the woods was still and silent. 

Bleak at first glance, we began to see drips and drops,
and bits of green on the understory trees.
Where we had strolled through the heady scent of May-flowers last spring,
there were only the lichens now. 

No fragrance, but their shapes and textures were a salad of delight.

Out toward the river, the usual path was blocked with ice that had been heaved up onto the shore.

We circled back through the woods, enjoying the mist and the small delights of such things as mountain-maple keys on the snow

and, no, this isn't some sort of critter -- it is a bit of husk from a hop-hornbeam that had some sort of hair on the stem end of it. (?)
[that one is for YOU, Link - remember our walk in these very woods  last June? ]

Along the misty trail, I saw TWO reasons that this understory tree is called Striped Maple -

It was quiet and still, a small sacred place, and we were content to browse here awhile.

Then we drove up to the Bridge, where the road crossed the Hudson,
to see the rapids where the frazil ice had been forming last week. 
The channel was open and the scenery moody and spectacular.

Jackie had been up here to see it a week ago, and the difference in just seven days of colder weather was amazing.
(see her blog of our day, here.)
We didn't linger on the Bridge, taking a few quick photos as cars and trucks rushed by,
and got back in Jackie's car.
She drove us down River Road, which, true to its name,
usually gets blocked by the river-ice at this time of year.
It’s clear today, but you can see river on both sides of the road at one point.

[It was  here that we showed our friend Andrew, who was visiting us last May,
some piles of ice that lingered well into summer.]

There were huge flat blocks of ice piled along the shoreline, as the river,
compelled to flow, had pushed them aside --

and more had beached themselves all around Snake Rock,
where once we sat with the Thursday Naturalists on a hot summer’s day,
having a picnic lunch.

No picnic today !
But plenty of tables …

P.M. --Up Assabet.
The river having suddenly gone down since the freshet,
I see cakes of ice eight or ten feet across
left two feet high or more above the banks,
frozen to four or five maples or oaks.
Indeed, each shore is lined with them …
they are somewhat like tables of a picnic party
or a muster-field dinner.
Rustic tables and seats.

   HDT Journal, February 1, 1859


  1. Great post, I love the HDT Journal entry at the end.

  2. Always enjoy your explorations. Those lichens look amazing!

  3. I am always so glad to enjoy these accounts of our adventures together, and impressed by how you manage to key them to Thoreau's own adventures.