Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stumpy Lake, VA

I didn’t have a lot of time, but Stumpy Lake was nearby and accessible for getting on the water. I was a bit concerned about the name, and when I met a fisherman launching ahead of me, I took advantage of the chance to question him about it. He assured me there was plenty of water unless I got close to the shores. In fact, I found plenty of water everywhere, and only rubbed one stump slightly.

Stumpy Lake, quiet and beautiful.

A very low single-lane causeway bridge connecting the highway
and a golf course and residential area.
The lake was a nice pale green color, and it was evident why fishermen were launching throughout the day. The lake was surrounded and peppered with mature cypress trees. The sun filtered through the beautiful foliage and dappled the water’s surface. An added advantage is that only hand-propelled craft are permitted on the lake. Paddling slalom in and out among the cypress reminded me of my days paddling Trap Pond in Delaware with David Sockrider.

Two female mallards, one by a cypress tree.

As usual, I paddled the entire circumference of the lake. Near the dam, seeds were being transported on the breeze. They were a bit smaller than a grain of white rice and surrounded by a tuft of down a half to ¾ inch in diameter. At times it looked like a snow storm, and toward the south end of the lake, the water was covered by large blankets of white. I wanted to be able to identify what I was seeing, but local workers in the park had no idea what they were. Indeed, they hadn’t even noticed them. So, I contacted the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. I described the seeds, and said that if I was home on the plains, I’d swear they were cottonwood tree seeds, but didn’t think there would be cottonwoods in the tidewater regions of Virginia. I am grateful to their chief biologist, J. Christopher Ludwig, who responded with the following: “I am fairly sure your seeds are from the Salix Caroliniana, the Carolina Willow, a fairly common tree on the borders of the lake. By the way, Willow and Poplar are in the same family--Salicacease--so your guess on cottonwood was right on.” So that told me two things I didn’t know before---the cottonwood is a poplar, and willows and poplars are of the same family. Cool!


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