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November 24, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone !
[an excerpt from Thoreau's Journal, August 17, 1851:]
I am not so poor --
I can smell the ripening apples --
the very rills are deep --
the autumnal flowers, the Trichostema dichotoma --
not only its bright blue flower above the sand
but its strong wormwood scent
which belongs to the season --
feed my spirit --
endear the earth to me --
make me value myself & rejoice --
the quivering of pigeons' wings
reminds me of the tough fibre of the air which they rend.
I thank you, God.
I do not deserve anything.
I am unworthy of the least regard
& yet I am made to rejoice.
I am impure & worthless --
& yet the world is gilded for my delight
and holidays are prepared for me --
& my path is strewn with flowers.
November 12, 2011
The Fen near Glen Lake, NY
I derive more of my subsistence from the swamps
which surround my native town
than from the cultivated gardens in the village.
It’s been waaay too long since my last blog post, so today we will zoom forward in time, to more recent days.
Never fear, there will be posts to come that speak of the days between – those golden autumn days – but for now, come with me to a local place called The Fen.
Inspired by my friend Jackie’s recent paddling excursions, and the return of unseasonably warm weather, I dragged the ironically-named “Swifty” kayak back out of his den in my storage bin.
Jackie and I had tried to paddle the Fen in August, but there was a bit too much plant life growing in the channel, making paddling a strenuous exercise.
Today, we decided to give it another try. Much of the growth has died back, curled up, or sunken below, making a fairly clear pathway into the Fen. Still a little messy in places, but it was better than last time.
Water willows are now brown arches, sheltering new construction by one of the local muskrats.
It was indeed a beautiful day, if chilly at first. I was thankful that I had put on longjohns and gloves against the morning breeze.
The sun was out, though the rays were weakened and at a low angle.
It made all the swamp plants glow wonderfully.
Thoreau was particularly fond of leatherleaf:
these little leaves are the stained windows
in the cathedral of my world,
he wrote in his Journal on April 19, 1852.
We made our way toward the area where the fen begins, where it curves around Route 9 and originates on private property. It is not wilderness, but a little wild-spot nestled between an amusement park, roads and houses.
Unfortunately, it is downstream from said amusement park (in the summer you can hear people screaming on the roller-coaster), and downstream from their newest addition, an indoor water-park/hotel. Said hotel is styled like a big faux-Adirondack “Lodge.” Oh well, I suppose the tourists like it well enough.
Meanwhile, we puzzled over this mysterious aqua-colored pool of water, in the middle of the stream, as we headed in that direction.
It was definitely a strange swimming-pool color. (Any ideas, Al ??)
We pressed on, further into the swamp than I have ever gone. We rounded a bend and drifted out into a secret pond. Here was a TRUE Adirondack Lodge !
We turned about at a small beaverdam, where the flow seemed to peter out, and went back to poke around in the pondy area. There was one active-looking lodge, and several older ones nearby.
Here on a floating log, mounds of mud seem carefully patted into place. At the near end, what looks like some plants, purposely set out to dry in the sun. Maybe it will be used for bedding in the lodge?
No sign of the residents, however. It sure looks like prime turtle-basking territory as well.
Can’t wait to come back here in the spring.
As we headed back the way we came in, we saw several rustic duck-blinds in the reeds (but no hunters,)
a dead cormorant, a live osprey,
bunchberry growing in a new place,
some cool fungus,
a still-red pitcher-plant,
And possibly the last lily-bud of the season.
It’s great to have a pal who doesn’t mind putting gloves on and going out into a swamp in November!