Sunday, April 14, 2013

Can't Stop It Now!

Several days of rain and cold have certainly slowed the progress of spring, but yesterday a break in the storm clouds allowed for a walk in the Skidmore Woods, where I saw many signs that nothing can stop it now.

The same cluster of pink Hepatica that had opened its blooms last week was now hunching its shoulders against the cold and cowering under its furry bracts.  But let just one ray of warming sun reach this sheltered spot by a rock, and those pretty blooms will once again lift their faces to the light.

The English Violets were yet too chilled to release their sweet fragrance on the air,  but when I knelt close and lifted a bloom to my nose, I detected that heavenly scent, safely sequestered within its folded flowers. This species of violet (Viola odorata var. alba) is not native to northern New York, but it certainly thrives in the Skidmore Woods, where it is one of the very first flowers to bloom.

Last week there was not a sign of Trout Lily leaves, but on Saturday I found many hundreds adding their speckled greenery to the forest floor.

Red-berried Elder is one of the very first shrubs to burst its buds and shoot forth fingers of compound leaves, centered by clusters of tightly packed flowers-to-be.  The yellowish flowers will not, when they bloom, be much to remark upon, but oh, just wait until June, when bunches of scarlet fruits hang from the branches, adding a dazzling display to the by-then-shady woods.

False Hellebore has rocketed up in a swampy spot where I found not a trace of these shoots three days ago.   It appears that they shot up so fast, they split their seams as they rose and swelled.  Now I await the voluptuous curves of their broad pleated leaves, so much more beautiful than the scraggly stalks of flower spikes that will follow in June.

The perfect tiny spheres of Spicebush buds have opened a crack, so I can glimpse the swelling anthers within.  With the coming warmth expected this week, I await the sight of their bright yellow puffs floating on the forest air.

Aha!   It appears that Red Squirrels are starting to do spring cleaning.  For years, I puzzled over finding such sheared-off twigs (this one's Red Maple) littering the forest floor in spring.  The sharp cuts at the ends indicate that the twigs were bitten off (rather than torn off by wind), but then left to rot on the ground, not gathered again for food.  Then wildlife expert Vince Walsh described to me the housekeeping habits of these bushy-tailed little brush hogs, who like to clear pathways for speedily traveling through the trees, shearing such obstacles as budding twigs like this.


June said...

The False Hellebore was in such a hurry to get out of the ground that it forgot to take off its cap!

Ellen Rathbone said...

We are in limbo here. Not q u i t e on the verge of spring yet, although nearly there. The frogs are singing at least, and while daffodils and crocus are blooming, and chickweed in the school lawn, I have yet to see a native flower.