Saturday, March 14, 2009

Winter's Greens

Official Spring is less than a week away, but the temperature still flirts with zero at night.  The days, however, are warming up nicely.  Well over 40 today.  This alternate melting and freezing has hardened the snowpack so I could walk through the woods without snowshoes today.  But I don't kid myself that the snow will be gone very soon.  The few times I postholed through, I still went in up to mid-shin.  At least the roadsides and some open fields are bare.  I expect to see bright yellow coltsfoot any day now.

The ice in mid-river has opened up, then closed again with thin, transparent sheets, but the coves and bays and marshes are still white with a foot or more of solid stuff, criss-crossed with cracks and open holes where it looks like the otters went in.  Or out.  I found their tobogganing trails in the woods today.  Out on an ice-covered bay, the dead deer that fed the raptors for weeks has been reduced to a rack of ribs.

On south-facing banks I find surviving evergreen plants, appearing remarkably uncrushed by the heavy snows this winter.  Of course, that snow served as protection against drying wind and cold.  Even though I know their green is left over from fall,  I love the illusion of new life they bring to the woods as we wait and wait and wait and wait for spring.


Trailing arbutus


Some of the dead flower heads are pretty, too.  Here's meadowsweet, growing beside a kettle hole in the rocks my kids and I call Bear's Bathtub.   Speaking of bears, when will they start waking up?  My friend Laurie said she has seen their tracks in the past right across the river from where I took this photo.  We once had one run right down our street in Saratoga Springs, then climb a tree in Congress Park, just a block from my home.


catharus said...

Lovely post. Yes, here (Central PA) Trailing arbutus will begin to bloom in a couple weeks; also 'should start seeing Harbinger of spring; do you have any of that your way?

Woodswalker said...

Catharus, my Newcomb's wildflower guide tells me that Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa) grows from western NY and PA to MN and south. So that makes me too far east and north to find it around here. I won't see deliciously fragrant arbutus blooms until at least mid-April. The leaves we see now were formed last summer and wintered well under the snow.

catharus said...

Okay, 'just curious. I use Newcomb's as well, but at the time was reading a description on Wikipedia which mentioned "central NY" as part of the range -- 'didn't know if that might include the southeastern Adirondacks.

NatureGirl said...

Bears - they could be waking any day now I'd think, unless things get really cold again (like last night and today). The males wake up first and start looking for food: ferns, birdseed, insects in logs, birdseed, buds on trees, will probably see them (or their signs) down where you are before we will see them in Newcomb.