Return to the River
July 7, 2022
This past Sunday I drove to Schoepfle Garden for the first time in 2022. I was pretty sure the level of the Vermilion River would be low enough to allow me to cross over to the other shore. And it was. I found some goodies there, but the garden side was also rewarding.
1 When I reached this point on the path to the river, I realized that it didn’t matter how many “good” photographs I’d be able to take. It was just wonderful to be back.
2 Basking in the atmosphere of green, I saw these bits of orange.
3 I soon saw more of these turk’s cap lilies (Lilium superbum).
4 In case you missed it in the previous crop of the photograph, look at the dew clinging to the undersides of this blossom. Didn’t notice it at the time.
5 I could have taken many more photographs of turk’s cap lilies, but I stopped after this one.
6 Light shining through leaves turns the water green.
7 The large rock in the background of this photograph rises about four and a half feet above the surrounding terrain. When I started going to the river, in the 1990s, it was only about three feet above its surroundings. Back then river water had dug out only the merest of pools—just a hole, really—on this side of the rock rather than the expanse of water you see only part of here. There must be a name for this kind of pool. I thought it might be what the Australians call a billabong, but it’s not an oxbow lake. It’s a channel excavated by spring floods as water jumps over the rock. The Ausable River Association lists 10 kinds of river-related pools. I wonder if this is a scour pool. Maybe one of you knows what to call it.
8 I’ve learned what to call this kind of log, one that nurtures other plant life growing on it. It’s called a nurse log.
9 These roots belong to living trees along the river, so they aren’t nurse logs. They do, however, seem to be sheltering this young locust.
10 I wonder if this circular depression was left by an embedded rock that became dislodged and was rolled downstream by the spring ice flow.
11 Minnows race around the shallows.
12 The locals would call this odd stone a turtle stone. Geologists call it a septarian concretion, and the story of its formation has nothing to do with turtles. A 1986 academic article about septarian crack formation takes a deep dive.
13 Two kinds of concretions in the same day! This one was exposed (the surrounding shale erodes easily) since the last time I visited Schoepfle Garden. Prodding with my hiking stick proved this was no squishy thing. You might say it was hard as a rock.
14 This is the part of the shale shoreline where the concretion of #13 is embedded. I wanted to believe that the grooves in the shale are glacial grooves, but my resident scientist deflatingly told me they are the result of simple erosion.
15 Anyway, they’re interesting to photograph.
16 As I’ve said before, no trip to Schoepfle Garden would be complete without at least one photograph of a Leptothrix discophora film. Because of rain the previous day, the films were hard to come by, and when I did find them, they were the youngsters, like this one. Still, my heart pitter-pattered.