It’s the colors that stay with me. The azure North Country sky. The solid tan of a long-unused logging road. The greys of certain birds, and of rock outcrops. The white of paper birches; the black of bloodthirsty black flies. The rich dark green of conifers, the amber of last fall’s white pine needles. And the leaves, all those adolescent leaves, closer to shades of yellow than green this time of year, some even sporting crimson.
The rest of nature’s palette lay at our feet: blue cohosh; white and red trillium; purple, white and striped violets; wild ginger; bellflower and three kinds of sedges; toothwort and miterwort; dutchman’s breeches, foam flower and spring beauty; members of the yellow family, wood violets, trout lily, marsh marigold, dandelions; and ostrich fern of fiddlehead fame.
Later, a carpet of green – ramps, aka wild leeks – draped over undulating terrain, harvestable if you know what you’re doing and practice self-restraint. (Foraging rule -1: if you aren’t 100 percent certain what it is, don’t eat it!)
All this, and more, was the profit from a weekend wildflower walk in Whippoorwill Corners State Forest, just up the hill out of Russell toward Edwards, near – guess where – Whippoorwill Corners. Sponsored by the Laurentian Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, it was led by naturalists David Katz, to whom we are indebted for 90 percent of the species list above, and Ann Csete. It was one of many outings offered on a single weekend as spring bursts upon us; others were organized by Nature Up North, Friends of Higley Flow State Park and Cornell Cooperative Extension; the St. Lawrence Land Trust; Grasse River Heritage; and the Potsdam Pride Festival. You can’t say we have no opportunities to Get Out!
We numbered 14 humans and one dog, for a grand total of 16 legs. “Walk” may be too ambitious a word for our outing; we stopped every 20 feet to admire an emerging or flourishing or passing flower. At this the four-legged participant (full disclosure: ours) grew quickly impatient, being interested in flowers only for sniffing or peeing on, so forged ahead with two of the humans, eventually lapping us on the loop trail.
It was hard to recognize folks, armored as they were to ward off squadrons of voracious insects. One gentleman, who came all the way from Ottawa, was wearing what looked like a hazmat suit.
It wasn’t until he spoke that I realized I knew him well. According to the DEC website https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/98638.html, “Whippoorwill Corners is said to have gotten its name from the many whip-poor-wills that sang in the trees during summertime.” That’s in past tense because their “habitats have decreased as old agricultural land has developed into more mature forest. Whip-poor-wills (are) a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York State.”
Maybe they don’t like the roadside litter by the trailhead, another abuse of their habitat. More colors, yes, Bud Light cans being blue and all, but they don’t belong.
We keep complaining that we don’t get enough (money-spending) tourists in our area. Has it occurred to anyone that more may come if the roadsides were clean as those in Vermont? Come on, people, show some pride in your community: don’t trash our greatest resource!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.