Climb to Gorge Trail

Potential danger abounds

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Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the third post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Emerging from the blind canyon of Cowsheds Waterfall, we are faced with this gorgeous pool fed by Dry Creek (yes, that is the name). Formed by a dam, the water is deep and very cold.

We were standing on this footbridge for the above photograph. The trail to Cowsheds is on the far side of Dry Creek and to the right.

We have yet to count these steps, don’t know why. The limestone blocks were quarried locally from the same stone of the creek bed. The gorge trail begins at the top.

Trillium Seed Capsule

This is a Purple Trillium, I believe, formal name Trillium erectum. It is a large specimen judging form the width of the bracts, leaf like structures at the based of the flower stalk. When fertilized, the ovaries form this seed capsule containing up to 16 seeds, each with lipid with a high content of oleic acid. During summer, the capsule opens, seeds disperse. Ants encounter the seed elaiosome, the oleic acid content triggers “corpse carrying behavior.” The ants carry the seeds into their nests, consume the lipids leaving the seeds. After a year dormancy the seeds sprout and the additional depth in the ant nest provides a good start.

Trillium are a favorite food of deer, unfortunately. Some seeds are spread this way, passing through the digestive tract and out in fecal waste. I use the color of the seed capsule to identify it was Purple Trillium. In my experience the white variety (Trillium grandiflorum, and others) has a light colored seed capsule.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Around and About Athens, New York, part 4 Finale

295 year old Zillow listing

Real Estate

Home for 295 years, one way to describe the Albertus Van Loon house, 85 North Washington street, Athens, New York. Built before there was a George Washington or Athens New York. The river flowing by was named North River when this door first opened. The Delaware was South River.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Listed today on Zillow with a increasing value and, incredibly, “built 1725.”

Well cared for…..

…..solid masonry walls with timber additions.

Right on the Hudson River.

Details

Albertus is a Great+ Uncle for Pam. She felt the connection to this place, marveled at the well build masonry and solid windows, absolutely loved the ivy. 85 North Washington was our last stop.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 3

Blossoms, headstones and the passage from Dutch to English

Blossoms

Spiraea bushes in full bloom flanked the Riverside Park along Water Street.

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Well cared for…..

…..as are the urns across the street.

Athens Country Cemetery

Our daughter-in-law and her Mom were a source of post-trip information. “Yan Van Loan” is how Jan Van Loon’s name is pronounced in Dutch, they kindly informed us.

Passage of political control from Dutch to English was decades old when Jan Van Loon acquired his land on the river. By the 19th century the name was anglicized (turned English) on the headstones, spelled as it was pronounced in English. In the 18th century Pam’s ancestors had moved west and south to what became Plymouth, Pennsylvania (Luzerne County). This was before the coal fields, in the 18th century agriculture was the primary industry. Pam’s branch of the Van Loons retained the Dutch spelling and anglicized the pronunciation, as “Van Loon” is pronounced in the English language.

The very old burials were marked with headstones of locally quarried slate, as was common in upstate New York. You can see slate headstones in this video of a Pioneer Cemetery near our home in Ithaca, New York.

In Athens the oldest stones were in the same condition, the lettering and decoration erased by the elements even when the stones are still standing. Some kind people researched the burials and erected a modern, white marble memorial stone with the names and dates of the ancestors named in the records. Jan Van Loon, Maria his wife, or any of Pam’s direct ancestors were not among them.

The Matthias Van Loon of this memorial obelisk was a descendant who remained in what became Athens, New York. The following two photographs are of the base and an overview. Matthias Van Loon’s is on the right.

This Catholic burial is on the very edge of the site, as though pushed off to the side. That is the yard of a private home in the background. I started this post with flowers because there was little evidence of familial devotions on these burials of previous centuries.

Click me for the next post of this series. Learn about a 295 year old house that is still a home.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Solved: Flowering Bush Mystery

from Asia by way of Germany

Thank you to the readers whose thoughtful responses appeared these past two days. Pam and I were caring for two grandchildren and, last evening after their Mom picked them up, I sat down with “The Botanical Garden” by Phillips and Rix, Volume I (2002, Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York and Willowdale, Ontario) and a sprig of the leaves and flowers and narrowed the choices to the genus Weigela of the family Caprifoliaceae.


Native to Asia (China, Korea, northeastern Siberia, and Japan), it was cultivated in France in the late 19th Century and is popular in cold climates, where it does well. These plants have been outside the kitchen window of our home for as long a Pam can remember (back to the 1960s).

I don’t know the exact species, it may be a hybrid of several. What identifies it is the overall growth pattern (tall, though we prune it down so the kitchen window view is not obstructed), the leaves (shape, come in pairs on opposite sides of the branch, tip is pointed and edges have teeth), the flower (tubular, 5 petals, 5 stamen shorter than the petals, 1 simple style with a capitate stigma). “Capitate” means it is round and on top of the style like a head. “Style” is an extension of the ovary though which fertilization by pollen happens. Ours is not fragrant, though some are.

Weigela is the family name of a early professor of Botany (and Chemistry, Pharmacy, Mineralogy) for the university town of Greifswald on the Baltic Sea. There is a botanic garden and arboretum associated with the university and, I suppose, a specimen of the plant was collected for the garden where it is scientifically characterized by the professor.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Flowering Bush Mystery

Request for Assistance

I need your help this morning. This year each of these bushes in front of our kitchen window has profuse blooms after Pam pruned and fertilized them early spring. I am coming up blank with identifying them.

The two bushes are over six feet tall and lose leaves each autumn (deciduous).

Here are some photographs. Can any readers identify these bushes? The common name or scientific will be much appreciated.

Thanks so much.




Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

Click me for another Trillium posting
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

Click here for my Online Gallery offering of trillium.

An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays such as what I shared last posting develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills