Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Signals

Wow! Is that sun getting hot!  I sat out on a high rocky bank of the Hudson today, and after about 15 minutes I sought the shade.  On south-facing banks, the ground is beginning to show.  Today was still below freezing, but it reached 50 yesterday, with a steady rain all day.  March starts tomorrow.  It won't be long until the woods and the waterways become nearly unreachable: the water not open for paddling but the ice unsafe to walk on, the ground not bare but the snow too porous to support snowshoes.  Even today, I was punching through if I left the trodden packed trail. And then comes the dreaded MUD season.  But hey!  That's the price we have to pay to get from here to there: SPRING! 

The signs are definitely there:  this beautiful red maple bud is so rosy and plump it seems about to burst into bloom.

Here's the first sapling of spring to be felled by a beaver.  I haven't seen any sign of new beaver activity all winter until today.  Their winter cache of underwater treetops must be running low.
(I just hope they stick to birch and poplar and leave the few remaining tupelos alone.)

And here -- not a sign of spring, exactly, but a sign that my hope of spotting otter may yet spring eternal -- are definite, couldn't-possibly-be-anything-else-but OTTER tracks.  I've found the five-toed, bunched-up paw-prints before, but this time they came with a tail attached, plus now and then a lovely, and positively diagnostic,  slide.

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