Monday, December 05, 2005

Plank Road and Beyond

Snowed yesterday, everything is still frosted white this morning. It is 17 degrees, a bit cool but not unpleasant.

We drove from the house out along Plank Road, which takes us through the Bald Eagle Preserve, out past Rio Dam and back along the Mongaup River. The water is quite low in the dam as well as in the river. A dam at “Swinging Bridge” upstream is unstable since flooding last spring so they are keeping water levels low as a precautionary measure.

The road winds through mixed forest, dominantly hemlocks and maple. Flocks of juncos and pine siskins are gathering bits of salt from the roads edge.

A lone turkey patrolling a clearing scurries into the brush as we pass.

Along a stretch of open water where we usually find eagles several flocks of Mergansers (well over a hundred birds) rise in the air, circling above the trees then returning to settle back down on the river. An ancient wooden flume runs for quite a distance along the river. Not particularly picturesque although the snow and moss cover it with a smidgen of charm. The flume is falling apart from years of neglect. On July 15, 1910, a engineering representative left on a tour of the South to study the possible use of wooden water pipes in the Conway water system. It was felt that wooden pipes made the water taste purer and sweeter than metal and had a life expectancy equal to that of metal. Constructed of staves held together by steel bands and covered with a thick layer of asphalt, wooden pipe was cheaper and was not thought to be effected by acids or minerals in the water.

Back out to the highway. No eagle sightings today.

Stopped at a stationers and art supply shop and bought a new sketch book filled with soft gray paper I love playing with pencil sketches on the gray paper. Also picked up some Prismacolor Lightfast pencils and a wooden box to protect them while out in the field. Then I had to add a kneaded eraser and a small pencil sharpener with some extra blades. Haven’t used the Prismacolor pencils before but some of my favorite things are fresh clean paper and new sharp pencils --- can scarcely wait to try them out…

The medical center (our destination) is on a hill on the far side of the town of Monticello (the county seat of Sullivan County, New York). From the parking lot I look out to the west over hills clad in pines and mixed hardwoods. Although it is overcast and the sky is a somber gray there is a peace and serenity in watching the clouds drift past.


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