Friday, April 5, 2019

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

When T. S. Eliot called April "the cruelest month," he wasn't kidding. One day it is balmy, with sun-warmed earth yielding beneath my feet, raising my hopes that spring might be here at last.  The next day, an icy-cold wind is trying to rip the scarf from my aching ears. And today, it SNOWED!  HARD!

Not to worry, though.  Tomorrow, the temps should rise into the 60s and stay there for several days, quickly melting the couple of inches of snow that has fallen so far.  But then, daytime temps are predicted to fall back into the 40s the rest of the week.  Did I mention that April was cruel?

Meanwhile, I've been out and about most days, still searching for further signs of spring. Last Wednesday was a warmish day with a muted sun, so I headed up to Moreau Lake State Park, planning to walk around the lake on the sandy shore and see what migrating waterfowl might be resting on its water. One problem, though:  most of the lake was still covered with ice, aside from some open areas near the shore.  Another problem:  the water level is now so high, there was no dry beach to walk on along many stretches of the shore. (And to think, we were worried, the last few years, that Moreau Lake was drying up!)

(I did see a couple of Common Mergansers on the lake's wide-open back bay, but if there were other waterfowl on the water, I did not see nor hear them.)

I was looking forward to feeling soft warm sand beneath my feet when I reached the south-facing northern shore, but instead I found the broad sandy beach now lay beneath slush-covered water, with icy plates being driven by wind nearly up into the woods.

But at least it looked a lot more spring-like at this end of the lake than did the north-facing southern end, which was still snow-covered and with thick lake ice still frozen tight to the shore.

I found no blooming wildflowers, of course, but I did find many Hop Hornbeam trees laden with lengthening catkins, the male flowers waiting to open their scales and waft their pollen onto the air of the first really warm days.

And the Cottonwood trees bore big fat shiny, sticky-with-resin buds at the end of each pale knobby twig.

The Red Maples, too, bore fattening buds, ready to burst into rosy-red flowers, once a stretch of warmer days might coax them into bloom.

In the meantime, sap has been rising in the Sugar Maples, and folks at the park are collecting that sap to boil into maple syrup.

Here was a surprise!  A brand-new astronomical observatory has been mounted near the swimming beach.  This new addition to the park's educational resources should open the way for new night-time programs to be offered by this already amazing park.

On my way home from Moreau, I detoured to the Skidmore woods in Saratoga, wondering if Wood Frogs or Spring Peepers might be singing their mating calls from the pools that lie in the forest there. But the woodland pools were still frozen tight to the shore.  The frogs have to have at least SOME open water in order to mate and lay their eggs.  So the woods remained silent, without the shrill calls of the Peepers or the low croaking quacks of the the Wood Frogs.  Maybe next week.

When I spied these wintered-over Hepatica leaves atop a most-covered rock, I peered down into the center of the clump, hoping to find an opening flower.  But no, no flower as yet, but I did find some buds emerging near the base.

I love how furry and kitten-soft the buds of Hepatica are, as if they were wearing warm cozy buntings to protect them from the vagaries of early spring.  Looking out at the snow-covered landscape tonight, I hope those fuzzy buntings are protecting those little buds well.


Chuck Miller said...

Now see - while others gripe about the snow, you found an opportunity to capture a spring snowfall in all its glory!

Woody Meristem said...

Not to worry, spring is on its way.