Notes On A Late Fall Lake
As the colors of October give way to the grays of November, most of the sailboats have been pulled from the water to ride out winter's winds ashore. But there are still opportunities to explore the lakeshore in these shortening days of late fall as it slips into early winter. We had a mild spell in October when the lake lay flat and calm and crystal clear for several days. Perfect canoeing conditions prevailed along the shore with plenty of scarlet, orange and gold foliage along the shore as in the photo of Blind Sodus Bay below.
Migrant ducks and geese are also moving through and on a still afternoon while paddling you might hear loons calling as I did last week. As you walk the beach now, you might find a few battered butterfly wings among the pebbles or even, as I found on October 29, a still living insect, now torpid with the cold. This monarch migrant had waited too late to head south.
By late October only a few leaves linger in protected pockets along forested stretches of lakeshore. In our yard, the summer sky is obscured by foliage. But now the bare trees have given us back the night sky. And last night, cold and clear with many stars, a cold north wind came blustering and roaring through the bare limbs, while to the north a distinct luminous diffuse glow appeared- the northern lights were putting on a show.
We drove to the lakeshore a short distance away to watch for a while. We are still in a period of high solar activity that comes around every eleven years so the chances of seeing the aurora remain fairly high this fall or winter. (There is also an Internet site sponsored by Sky and Telescope magazine that offers aurora "alerts" via e mail when viewing conditions are favorable. Check it out at www.skypub.com or put the magazine name into the search engine.). Last night's show wasn't as colorful or spectacular as some I've seen but it was still very satisfying with its band of softly glowing greenish light arching over the lake. A few areas of light intensified, brightened dimmed and moved around as we watched, even as the wind shook the bare trees and the waves roared in from the north and rushed upon the beach. We did not linger by the water's edge on such a wild night. We soon hurried back to hearth and home.
If cold winter winds keep you at home next to a warm computer terminal, come back and visit here next month. Then we'll look back on the good ship Titania's Erie Canal and salt water adventure hopefully with a link to the virtual log of her cruise. As regular visitors to the Log-on-Line know, Titania helps me teach sailing and does charters on the lake during the summer. This fall, for the first time in her thirty-0dd year life span, she got off the lake and experienced salt water. It was an interesting time for all.
Here's a preview as we lock through the Erie Canal- In this photo below, we have reached the bottom of one of the Waterford flight locks- about 35 feet closer to tidal water than at the start of the process. The canal turned out to be far more interesting and scenic than expected. Come back next month to find out why.