Unexpected Color

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9318acsIt was too early for fall foliage yet, not in this neck of the woods, and these were the wrong woods, for that matter. The Pine Barrens are made up of pines, for gosh sakes.

Pines are evergreens, they don’t come in any color but green.

151010_NJ Pine Barrens_8953a2csYet there we were in the Pine Barrens, admiring Lady Autumn’s jewelry, the subtle red and gold gems sprinkled amongst the green. Atsion Lake (top) and Whitesbog (above).

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9302acsSapphire skies over Atsion Lake.

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak mc_2964acsAutumn reflections where the Mullica River meets Atsion Lake. While pitch pine and Atlantic white cedar trees are the predominant conifers in the Pinelands, deciduous oaks like black jack, post and scarlet oak are common, as are shrubs like blueberry and huckleberry in the low heath layer.

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9360acsThe Mullica River, looking upstream.

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9345acsI am quite sure that some of Lady Autumn’s aquatic attendants reside in this wooden cave.

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9472acsI am quite sure that I could quite contentedly reside in this wooden abode.

151010_NJ Pine Barrens_9019ac copyNot much color in this particular photo, at least not the kind we were hoping for. This is a cranberry bog at Whitesbog. New Jersey is one the top producers of cranberries in the country, and they are grown in the rich wet environment of the Pine Barrens. When the time is right, the fields are flooded; the cranberries float to the top to be harvested.

Acres of cranberries like a vast sea of crimson; that’s what we were looking for. We were too early.

151010_NJ Pine Barrens_8998acs copyThe cranberries were still on the bushes!

151021_Bladderwort at Harrisville Pond _6888A touch of summer remained on Harrisville Pond. Scattered here and there were some lingering bladderworts. These carnivorous plants float on little pontoons. Below the surface dangle tangled masses of thin leaves, and numerous tiny bladders. The bladder is a vacuum trap. Prey such as aquatic insects and other small organisms brush against it, and the bladder sucks in both water and prey.

On Harrisville Pond, bladderworts are abundant in late summer. We were lucky to find some still in bloom in October.

151014_NJ Atsion Lake Kayak_9484acsSunset on Oswego Lake.

151021_NJ Harrisville Pond Kayak_6871acsHarrisville Lake bedazzles with ruby, garnet and topaz gems amongst the emeralds. Lady Autumn’s finest jewels provide some lovely and unexpected color in the Pine Barrens.

Old Man Winter

150201_PA VF Betzwood_4847acs bwThe Winter Queen, beautiful and imperious, does not always condescend to trifle with us in person. Last year we were bound in her glacial grip, locked in snow and ice for weeks at a time. This year Her Majesty’s attention has been drawn elsewhere, and she has delegated her duties here to her henchman, Old Man Winter.

150201_PA VF Betzwood_5040acs bwOld Man Winter has an artist’s fickle temperament; warm days follow cold, and snowfalls are light. Not that we escape his touch. Rivers freeze, trees shiver when he passes by. His palette is white and gray, and his brushes are the biting winds that accompany the most frigid days. See how he blows water into ice!

150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5313acs bwIslands in the stream, bearing not palm trees, but ice blocks and frozen stalactites.

150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5375acs bwIce forms, melts, then freezes again, into ever more fantastical shapes. Icicles may drape an entire cliffside in cascading curtains…

150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5369acs bwOr dress twigs in chunky nuggets like rock candy on a string.


150201_PA VF Betzwood_4865acs bw

150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5251acs bwOld Man Winter paints in abstractions made of seemingly random lines, textures and patterns.

Look closely at his artwork; perhaps you will see waves crashing upon the shore, doves in flight, a duck swallowing a fish…

150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5242acs bw150201_PA VF Betzwood_4896acs150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5206acd bw150201_PA VF Betzwood_4866 acs2 bw

Look! Old Man Winter is feeling frisky!150207_VFAS Mill Grove_5236acsOn a sunny day, even the old master is tempted to reach for a spot of color. In a playful mood, he blows ice bubbles in cobalt and blue.

Can Lady Spring be far away?