Monday, February 17, 2020


I admit I've been hibernating this winter, neglecting this blog for the cozy comforts of afternoon naps with a cat on my lap.  But at last, we had the kind of day that rousted me out of my recliner and beckoned me outdoors: a bright blue sky, a shining sun, and temps that were invigorating without being numbingly cold. And to add to my pleasure, the snow-covered path at Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail was hard-packed but not icy, easy to walk without the encumbrance of either snowshoes or spikes.  What a joy it was to stride easily along, swinging my legs and filling my lungs with sweet fresh air.

Lying just east of the city of Saratoga Springs, this trail is renowned for botanical bounty during the warmer months, but even during the depths of winter I find enough remnants of plants to capture my eye.  These Sensitive Fern spore stalks presented stark silhouettes against the dazzling white of the snow.

The dangling fruit clusters of Highbush Cranberry introduced a jolt of ruby red against the deep-blue of the sky.

A recent snow and ice storm that brought down trees and powerlines across the region also forced many trees along the trail to bow or topple beneath all that weight.  I wonder if the slender trunk of this Gray Birch will re-achieve verticality as the snowless months progress.

The seeds of this wild clematis called Virgin's Bower have already fallen out of their pods, but the silvery filaments that remain were glistening in the sunlight.

When I reached the mid-point bridge, I was happy to see that the beavers had not yet rebuilt their dam that every year threatens to flood this trail, so the creek remained unimpeded and was surging merrily downstream.

Although the water was open and turbulent in the creek, the open marsh remains solidly frozen over from shore to shore.

Because of that frozen surface, I was able to walk along the shore on the ice, staying close to the banks.  I did have to detour around this fallen Red Maple, however. Another victim of our recent ice storm.

With the maple's topmost branches now at eye level,  I cold enjoy a close-up view of its  rosy-red swelling buds.

There were several toppled Gray Birches, too, their branches still dangling the tightly-packed seed clusters.

NOT so tightly packed, I discovered! The seed clusters fell apart at a touch, filling my hand with tiny papery-textured winged seeds.

Scattered across the snow, the birch seeds resembled a flock of tiny flying birds.

More seed pods, these ones dangling their papery remains along thin twining vines.  My guess is that these are the winter remains of Climbing False Buckwheat.

Ah yes!  Here's that thicket of Swamp Rose shrubs along the marsh's shore, with some of the hips still glossy and red.

I will always remember how these roses once saved my day, after I had harassed a poor Hognose Snake to the point where it had released the most terrible stench imaginable and I couldn't get it out of my nose.  But then I happened upon these exquisitely fragrant roses and buried my nose in their blooms, breathing deeply until their sweet smell had finally neutralized that horrid stink. I guess I learned my lesson about not harassing Hognoses, but I also learned where to find some of summer's most beautifully fragrant flowers.   Just one of the many wonderful finds along the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail.


Sara Rall said...

I love your photo of birch seeds. I've never noticed their shape before.

Woody Meristem said...

the gray birch will probably straighten up; they don't always recover but are quite tolerant of bending under the weight of snow and ice.

The Furry Gnome said...

We can count on you to identify lots of things even in a winter walk.

threecollie said...

How wonderful to find such solace on a winter day! Glad you enjoyed it and shared that joy. I don't think I have ever seen as many downed or broken trees as we have spotted this year. Woods are going to look a lot different come spring.