Monday, March 26, 2012
Lamb-like March Turns Leonine
Brrrr! The thermometer barely climbed above 40 today, while a stiff wind drove that cold through every opening it could find in my coat. Such crazy weather! Three days ago I was walking around in shorts and a tee, but today the longjohns went on before I went out. Despite a bright sun, it was rather unpleasant outdoors today, although it felt more and more comfortable the deeper I walked into the sheltering woods of the Ballston Creek Preserve, where I'd come to see if by any chance Spring Beauty had opened its buds. I wasn't at all surprised to find the first Dandelions of the year, such sturdy little weeds they are, with flowers so sunny yellow they seem to radiate heat. But Spring Beauties are such seemingly delicate things, with slender stems and dainty pink stripes. How could they possibly tolerate this cold?
Apparently, they tolerate it very well, to judge from their glorious profusion today across the forest floor.
Despite their fragile appearance, such very early bloomers as these native wildflowers must have evolved some kinds of strategies to allow them to survive late freezes, such as the one predicted for tonight, with temperatures possibly plunging into the 20s. I'll have to come back again next week to see how they coped. If they do happen to get wiped out for the year, I'm glad I had a chance to see them in all their glory today.
With that strong wind whipping these Red Maple branches around, it was hard to get a clear photo of those scarlet blossoms so lovely against that blue sky. A beautiful sight!
Red Maples bear male and female flowers on separate trees, with the male trees seeming to predominate. I had to search around to find a tree with pistillate flowers like these.
The Shadblow trees are about to burst into bloom with the next warm spell, biding their time for the chilly moment with their furry bud scales snugged up around their tightly furled petals.