Monday, June 30, 2014

To Float Thus

The Fen, Queensbury NY
June 19, 2014

To float thus on the silver-plated stream
Is like embarking on a train of thought itself.
You are surrounded by water,
Which is full of reflections;
And you see the earth at a distance,
Which is very agreeable to the imagination.

   HDT Journal, August 14, 1854

The second day of my small vacation promises to be clear and sunny,
with less wind in the forecast. 
I hastily fetch my boat from the storage bin, and am on the waters at The Fen by 8 a.m. 

The Fen is hardly wilderness; it’s right off the road to Glen Lake, and within earshot of the Northway.
At its southwest end, it brushes by a huge amusement park. Later in the morning you will hear the muffled roar of roller coasters, and faint screams carried on the wind.
But at this hour, I have the marsh all to myself.

Among the Leatherleaf and grasses at the put-in,
a tiny spark of pink catches my eye  - a Rose Pogonia!
This one is still curled in sleep and covered with morning dew.

I’ve seen this small and elegant native orchid in places further north – is this just a fluke, or are there others back in the fen? I vow to keep an eye out for more of them.

Pushing off  – ah that moment when gravity drops away, and I am floating.
The still water reflects the clouds, and the boat is a bird in the sky.

It’s early yet; the white water-lilies are still nodding their little heads.
When morning sun shines upon the water, they awake, enlightened.

One can never take enough photos of water-lilies.
I am strongly attracted to my name-sakes.
Each one seems more beautiful than the one before.

A superb flower,
our lotus queen of the waters.

How sweet innocent, wholesome its fragrance.
How pure its white petals,
though its root is in the mud.

    HDT Journal, June 26, 1852

Paddling against the sluggish current, I pass several small forks in the stream.
I take one of them back into a wider pondy section.
Suddenly I see more Rose Pogonias, blooming delicately amid Leatherleaf, Bog Rosemary, Water Willow and all sorts of grasses and reeds.

Another bit of color are the dainty beaks of cranberry-flowers.

Sprinkled here and there, floating on underwater leaves full of tiny air-pockets, is Common Bladderwort.

The young leaves of Pickerelweed poke up out of the water, but there are no flowers yet. When they bloom, the shore will be lined with purple.
Arrow Arum is not blooming yet either, but the foliage has a splendor of its own.

On little islands, the flower-stalks of Pitcher Plants stand alert
like so many pinwheels.

I float along, hearing the creech of a Broad-Wing overhead and the sad whistles of an Oriole from the oaks above the cove.

I'm sad too, to find a little orange symbol flashing on my camera, telling me it's time to replace the battery - and the spare battery is back at the car !

Not until I turn about for the return do I meet anyone else. I can hear them long before they come around the bend.
It's the happy chatter of three friends who are out paddling the Fen for the first time.
I show them where to find the Rose Pogonia.
They never knew that orchids grow in New York, and are delighted to see it. 

This is a good time to come here. Soon there will be many more lily-pads stretching across the narrow channel, making it too difficult to paddle.

I drift back slowly. There’s time to think, and not-think.

The sun’s glare coats the pads with silver,
and lights up the lilies like candles.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


June 18, 2014
Moreau Lake State Park

Many a forenoon have I stolen away,
preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day;
for I was rich,
if not in money,
in sunny hours and summer days,
and spent them lavishly;
nor do I regret
that I did not waste more of them in the workshop ...

    HDT, “The Ponds,” Walden

Last week, I  had three days of vacation, and thoroughly enjoyed each one.
I was never more than ten miles from home, but oh what glorious days.

The first day, a Wednesday, was more cloudy than sunny, but it was all mine.
After about two months of working on the new day schedule, I’ve been missing that morning air.
I drove over to Moreau Lake State Park and spent hours walking around.
No particular plans or destinations.

At trail junctions I would pause, then take whichever fork took my fancy.

I wandered along the edge of Odonata Shore, stirring up dozens of damselflies.
The irises stand elegant at the water’s edge
and attract butterflies.

The breezes kept any mosquitoes at bay, so even the deeper woods were a comfortable place to saunter.
Moments of bright sun alternated with shade. The cove was sprinkled with Water-Lilies.

Also in bloom were Daisies, Fleabane, Blue-Eyed Grass and the tiny Racemed Milkwort.

There was time for a mid-morning snack. 

Looking across Back Bay Cove, I saw Dave leading a school group on a hike along the Wetland Trail.

This flower always makes me think of Thoreau, when he wrote that he'd finally realized that the Year is a grand circle:
“Now I am ice, now I am sorrel.”

I made a circle of my own, walking around Mud Pond.
Even with the sky clouded over, it looked beautiful.

There the Frostweed was blooming its first flower of the year.
It will bloom again, with a smaller flower, and then in November with curls of frost.

When I got back to where I had started, I still wasn’t ready to come in.
The Big Beach was pretty popular, with picnic tables, snack bar and lifeguards; so I went over to Little Beach instead. Just an empty stretch of sand across the way.
I sat on a log at the water’s edge, dug my lunch out of the pack, and dangled my tired feet into the lake. 

Fourteen thousand steps today ! And none of them hurried.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not Writing

June 20, 2014
Water's Edge, NY

What if I should forget to write about my not writing?
   HDT, Letter to H.G.O.Blake, May 28, 1850

O, things have fallen so far behind, and there are reasons large and small for this condition. 
Just after my last post -- way back in April -- some changes occurred that caused quite a bit of re-arranging of my personal time.
Suffice it to say that after working many years on an evening schedule,
it was decided that I should henceforth work on days. 
There’s more to it than that,
but let’s just say that I am grateful to have a job,
in these days when so many others suddenly find themselves un-employed.

I’ve no problem with getting up early,
at least during these summer days,
when the sun is lighting up the treetops at 5:30 a.m.
That means that I hit the hay a lot earlier now.
But where did all my free time go 

Those long morning rambles are a thing of the past now. 
After a long work-day, there is only time and energy enough
for the shortest of walks after dinner.
By the time I could finally sit down to blog ... I'm nodding off!

It has been quite a creative slump. 
The longer this malady of “not-writing” lingers, the harder it seems to shake.
I’ve been walking around in a funk, as if in mourning. 
(Mourning for lost mornings?)
I thank those of you reading this now for having faith in me,
at a time when my faith in myself is pretty low.
But things are beginning to look up now.

On weekends, I do have at least one day to wander free for hours,
in the woods and waters that I love.
And I'm becoming quite the connoisseur of sunsets.
I am learning to cherish those smaller bits of time in the outdoors.

My Journal of photos still grows.
I hope to glean some favorites from the last two months,
and share them here in a future post,
to show that spring and summer not have passed un-noticed.
But first – next -- a blog about Here & Now. 

There can be no very black melancholy 
to him who lives in the midst of Nature
and has his senses still.
   HDT, Walden