Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Searching for Signs of Spring

How did it get to be March already? It seems like winter has just begun, and in less than three weeks it will be officially spring. It felt kind of spring-like today, close to 50, breezy, mixed sun and clouds. Could I go for a walk without snowshoes? I could if I stuck to well-trodden trails, like the one that circles Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park.

I went looking for early signs of spring, but mostly I found what was left from last fall. These clusters of American Hazelnuts surprised me a bit, since just about every critter on earth craves these nuts, and usually the bushes are stripped as soon as they ripen. How on earth did they make it through the winter? It could be they're moldy or wormy and so were passed over.

The hazelnut shrubs were hung with these little catkins, which also were formed last fall and came through the winter. When the weather warms, they will grow much longer and puff out with pollen, which the breeze will carry to little red female flowers that grow on the same twigs.

This rose hip, still plump despite winter's rigors, glowed like a ruby against the white snow.

Most lichens look about the same, whatever the season. And some you have to look very closely to see. I love these itsy bitsy ones with bright red blobs on top. Part of the reason I love them so is their wonderful name: Lipstick Powderhorn.

All winter I've been puzzling over these little brown split-open seed cases clustered tightly together.

Since these clusters kind of reminded me of Maleberry flowers, I searched Google Images and lo and behold, there they were! Another name for Maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina) is He-huckleberry, so called because, although they resemble huckleberries, they produce no edible fruit, but only dry capsules. Their flowers also resemble those of blueberries or huckleberries. Here's a photo of some I took last June.

One genuine sign of spring today was the softening of the ice at the edge of the pond. And it looks like some very busy beavers will be keeping this shoreline open.


Ellen Rathbone said...

Another lovley walk with you. I've said it before, and will no doubt say it again: you have some of the best botanical STUFF down in your neck of the woods. Such variety!!! It's enough to make a plant enthusiast green with envy. :)

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

I sure do enjoy having you along on my walks, Ellen. And yes, we do seem to be blessed with botanical bounty around here. But I've also spent more than a dozen years searching out plants, so by now I know exactly where to find them.