AUGUST

August 1st HIKING THE CREEK
Our friends arrived last evening and we stayed up quite late sitting around the campfire. This morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and I don't know how many pots of coffee. Then we headed down to the creek. We all wore old sneakers or shoes that wouldn't matter if they got wet and armed ourselves with stout walking sticks. These were either the six foot lengths of hemlock branch that I had barked for baskets or straight thin lengths of ash branch. We planned to hike down to the Hudson River.

The creek level was pretty low, so we were mostly able to skip from stone to stone, but occasionally we had to get our feet wet. The rocks under the water surface were very slippery, that's why we brought along the walking sticks. A smaller creek empties into Stony Creek a short way downstream and it was refreshing to feel the noticeably cooler water pouring in from the tributary. Around the next bend we came upon a small waterfall with a deep pool just beyond it. We stopped here to take a dip. This pool was not so large as to actually swim in, but at least we could all get underwater and float around some. The day was turning into another one of those stifling hot days that we've had so many of this summer. We all agreed to stay in this pool for a while longer . . . and longer. Eventually we went back up to the house for some lunch and found that it was just as pleasant there in the shade. I guess we'll save the hike to the Hudson for a cooler day.

August 2nd JOE PYE
This afternoon, after our friends left, I took my sketchbook and headed back to the creek. I couldn't help but notice when we were hiking yesterday that the Joe-Pye weed was blooming. Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is a tall perennial of roadside ditches, marshes and streambanks. Growing to a height of nearly six feet topped with a wide fuzzy cluster of of pale pink to dusty purple or mauve flower heads, this is subtle yet impressive plant. There are several species in our area differing mainly in the color of the stem. Some species have solid green stems, some purple, and others are green, but spotted, mottled or striped with purple. All have long thin pointed leaves which grow in whorls of three to five. The leaves are a light to medium yellow-green with coarsely toothed edges.

The plant is named after an Indian, Joe Pye, who is reputed to have used the herb in curing fevers. It belongs to the tribe Eupatorieae, related to Boneset (E. perfoliatum) which grows in the same habitat and to the same height, but has white flowers and leaves in opposite pairs that are joined at the base so that they seem to be pierced by the stem. Boneset is so named because it was once believed to help in setting fractured or broken bones.

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