Thursday, December 5, 2013

Little's Lake

There were sixteen of us this gray December morning as the Thursday Naturalists gathered at Little's Lake in Menands, NY.

Win B. built a fire in the cottage fireplace before we set out so that we would have a warm place to return to for our lunch. Helen stayed behind to monitor the fire, and off we went to explore the woods. We stopped to admire this good-sized cottonwood tree a little way down the trail.

Further on, we reached no decision about what this tree was. A birch, perhaps? The upper bark looked birch-ish, but not the lower bark, alas. Trees in winter are hard to identify sometimes.

Browns dominated underfoot, but across the lake, this willow was a haze of deep gold and the partially frozen lake reflected the gray-green pines.
Here, too, was some green. Moss, lichen and ferns created a blend of verdant shades against the fallen leaves.

Evergreen wood fern: such a lovely name.
There were darkened, tough bracket fungi with a rich, earthy scent.

This yellow fungi stuck with the color theme of the day.
There was beauty in these muted colors of the woods in early winter. I want to find yarns in these tones and make an afghan of them.

Ruth S. broke apart a catkin bract of a gray birch. Against her dark mitten, we could see the tiny winged birch seeds, as enlarged below.

 Ruth always finds something interesting to share in the tiniest of objects. Most of us would pass by these things without noticing, and oh, how much we miss in the natural world. Ruth has taught me to look and to see.

 Later, the scent of wood smoke drew us back to the cottage, warm now and cozy with light and a crackling fire. Someone had heated water in an urn for tea and coffee and cocoa. Just the ticket.

We ate our lunches while Ed shared his knowledge of frazil ice and Ruth introduced us to a lovely book, Spider Silk. It begins with a quote from E. B. White:  Once you begin watching spiders, you haven't time for much else

Yup, that pretty much sums up my Thursdays with this intrepid group of kind and curious people.