Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Snow Emergency Here

No fair!! While I was down at my daughter's in Westchester County for Christmas, the snow fell fast and furious, nearly two feet of it, drifting to giant heaps that stopped trains in their tracks and stranded buses at the curbs in New York City. A great big mess down there. The gift of all that snow is lost on them, while up here in Saratoga County, where we would know what to do with all that downy gorgeousness, we got only about three inches. Hardly enough to bother shoveling.

Unfortunately though, that was enough for Saratoga Springs to declare a snow emergency and tow any car that wasn't moved after 24 hours. And I was away for four days. Here's the sight that met my eyes when I went to drive my car this morning. Gone! By the time I pay the parking tickets and all the towing fees, I'll have paid about $200. As I said before, no fair! That little dribble of slush on the street doesn't look like any snow emergency to me.

Ah well, at least we had enough snow to capture animal tracks, so off to the woods I went today (once I got my car back and stopped fuming). When I reached the river by Three Pine Island, I was pleased to see the water was frozen over and covered with snow -- perfect tracking conditions.

The ice is not thick enough for me to walk on yet, but other creatures have. This little mink has found access to open water where a stream enters the marsh. Looks like he went right in.

It looks like a fisher (or several of them) has been using this frozen bay as a shortcut between sections of forest. But I could be wrong. Each winter I have to relearn my tracking skills.

Also, this winter I hope to gain more skill in identifying non-flowering plants, such as fungi and ferns, mosses and liverworts, many of which can be found all winter long. For example, here is a rotting stump I found today that was covered quite prettily with two colorful fungi and one bright green liverwort. Might be a little moss mixed in there, too. I'm not sure what that ruffly shelf fungus is (there are several look-alikes in my mushroom books), but I'm pretty certain those little yellow dots are a sac fungus called Bisporella citrina, or Lemondrops.

That patch of bright green I might have assumed was a moss, but my friend Evelyn Greene has been teaching me to take a closer look. And a closer look at this growth revealed the overlapping leaves of a leafy liverwort. An even closer look reveals that each of those leaves is tipped with three teeth, a sure sign that this particular liverwort is Bazzania trilobata.

I learned about Bazzania trilobata and its three-toothed leaves in a book I received as a Christmas present from my husband, Outstanding Mosses & Liverworts of Pennsylvania & Nearby States by Susan Munch. He also gave me a Golden Guide to Non-flowering Plants, which covers fungi, ferns, lichens, algae, slime molds, and other plants in addition to mosses and liverworts. Oh my! I sure have a lot to learn. Lots of stuff to make a winter's walk even more fascinating.


Ellen Rathbone said...

I suppose "I was out of town, so how could I know there was a snow emergency and then get back here, from where there really WAS snow, in time to move my car?" didn't hold up as an argument, eh?

Lovely stump!

And yes, I'm pretty sure those are fisher tracks, too.

I'm doing an after school program next week on scats - woo-hoo! My first program since I came here. :)

Louise said...

Sigh, three inches is a snow emergency, eh? Not fair. Are you getting a thaw in the next few days, also. That will wreck havoc on all of the tracks, but may make getting around in the woods a little easier. I want to get back into the woods behind my house, and see if I can find some liverworts.

June said...

Aha. I should've looked further before I Googled for fisher tracks. Those definitely are NOT what I saw in my driveway. Although I wouldn't have been surprised...

And . . . you know . . . as a civil servant, I couldn't help wondering about that snow emergency thing, so I went to and found this in your local law in Section 225-57 C:
"All vehicles parked on City streets shall be moved within 12 hours after the abatement of any snow storm which results in an accumulation of three inches or more of snow or ice, whether or not a snow emergency has been declared by the Commissioner of Public Works. The Department of Public Works shall notify the Police Department when such twelve-hour period has commenced."
I'm sorry you hadda pay all that money to get your car out of hock, though.

Woodswalker said...

Hi Ellen and Louise and June. Thanks for your sympathy regarding the "snow emergency." I now know that I was remiss regarding the city code (although it's a code I'd never heard of in 40 years of living here), but one look at the miniscule amount of snow around my car should have convinced the police that it made no sense to tow it. It just seems mean to have done so. I'm going to court to ask the judge to throw out the parking fines. Wish me luck.