Fall Creek meanders through the esker fields of the Malloryville Preserve. Here is the view from an abandoned railroad bridge. A major watercourse of the Finger Lakes, throughout the 19th century Fall Creek provided water power for local industry: grain grinding mills, cooperage and furniture. Here the stream bed is wide, flow slow and pacific for a mirrored surface, the effect broken by a single drop from an overhanging tree or, maybe, a fin’s flash.
Pam and I visited Malloryville last weekend to enjoy a “socially distanced” walk with family.
This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph. A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this. That camera model has a integrated flex lens. I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.
The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.
As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset. This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank. Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.
Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up. First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat. Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree. The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins. As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.
What is an esker ridge? As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills. One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created. It made barrels and furniture. My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.
Hard on the defunct gravel pit of the northwest side of the preserve is the deposit of glacial rocks washed to some extent by melting ice the former owners of the pit were turning over for profit with the averted result of destroying the water sources for the ecosystems of the future preserve.
The deposit is called a kame. Kames are the obverse of kettles, formed with an enormous remnant of glacial ice melts in place leaving a substantial depression. A kame is formed when earth gathers in a depression formed by meltwater running over a glacial surface. When the glacier melts (in this area the ice wash a mile high), the washed earth is left as a steeply sided pile we experience as a hill.
Water flowing beneath glaciers forms the long, ridged hills, eskers, we explored in yesterday’s post.
Well formed, sinuous, graded on both sides, eskers can be mistaken for man-made earthen structures, such as railroad embankments. Here is an example, nine-tenths (0.9) of a mile long substantial enough to direct the flow of Fall Creek. On entering the Malloryville esker bed the stream makes a right angle turn.
Here we are at the foot of the primary esker of Malloryville Preserve (it is marked as such on the information placard of this series first post). The slope to the right is the esker. A swamp lies to the right.
This video provides a better feeling for this esker.
Two kettles of the preserve represent a pond and, below, a bog. Here is a photograph from the observation platform using the IPhone 7. I brought along the Canon dslr and 100 mm “macro” lens for the stars of this show…..
….purple pitcher plants (scientific name: Sarracenia purpurea). In past years, the central observation deck cut-out, hosted healthy pitchers. Today, invading high bush blueberries from the bog margin, crowded out the pitchers and the only flowering plant were among the grasses 8 to 10 feet away. My goal was photographing the extraordinary flowers.
Each flower rises from the base on a strong stalk. Here are the pitchers, also called “turtle socks”, flooded with sunlight.
A flower unlike any I have experienced, like the carapace of an insect, the reproductive element underneath a hood.
The posterior, there are only bracts.
I have, somewhere, macro images of the pitcher, with the downward facing hairs. Brought the wrong lens to capture this at a distance.