A rare glimpse of serenity amidst yesterday's icy blast at Great Meadows. The glowing collar around this dried and floating lotus pod hints at the turbulent waters and subfreezing temperatures of the early morning hours. Near record cold and winds on this late autumn day makes for a harrowing yet inspiring walk through the refuge, with a few surprises along the way.
The strong wind and frigid temperatures work together to splash and freeze the marsh waters onto the thousands of remnant lotus stems and pods, creating an expanse of sparkling and bobbing diamonds out to the horizon.
In the shallow southwestern channel, the entire frozen surface glistens in backlight as the wind pours across the tops of these highlighted cattail stands, where I discover two phragmites plumes(!).
At the river's edge, air bubbles, leaves, and pebbles are frozen into patterned still lifes. And a river birch reveals it's peeling, branchy, still leafy essence in the long rays of the autumn sun.
A shadow crosses me from above and I look up to see an immature bald eagle, wheeling and soaring over the southwestern end of the marsh, trying to catch thermals above the ridge line.
Asters show their silvery seedheads in the clear morning light. And a resolute goldenrod stands, still blooming, buffeted by the 10º wind-chilled blasts.
The shriveled fruit clusters and skeletal remains of smooth carrion flower (Smilax herbacea) stand out along the trail's edge.
As I anticipated, the wind-whipped water on Borden Pond splashes and freezes into myriad ice forms along the water's edge.
A decaying catfish washes peacefully in the undercurrents, beneath the glistening turbulence.
Ice bells and globes appear as water splashes against waterborn twigs and flash freezes as it drains down. The ruffled form displays it's more exposed position and the perfect sphere of the second form belies its sheltered and slightly more elevated location along the shoreline.
Though my eyes are brimming with tears and breathing comes in quick, cold gasps, I'm reluctant to abandon my quest for the season's first icy novelties. Finally, I spy three frozen creatures on low-hanging alder branches that let me know the morning's adventure is complete.
|an emerging sea turtle|
|and a wild boar!|