Friday, March 5, 2010

Winter Recedes Along the River

March is the month we often get dumped with humongous heaps of snow. This year, I hope we don't. I went through the woods to the river today, and man, the walkin' was easy! No snowshoes required, and I even could hear the crackle of crisp dry leaves underfoot. Hard to believe that just last Sunday we were slogging through snow to our knees.

The open river was running full and free, blue as the sky and sparkling in the bright sun. Of course, the back bays were still socked in with at least a foot of ice. But along the shore where streams tumble in, the ice has begun to recede.

The ice remained thick enough in spots to allow me easy access to Bear's Bathtub, a beautiful rocky promontory that's covered with Chestnut Oaks and little White Pines and masses of Low Blueberries. It will be a long time before blueberries bloom, but see how their twigs are flushed with new growth, as if they were tipped with flames.

Nestled among warmth-retaining rocks out here, Trailing Arbutus is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring. The glossy, leathery leaves I could see are ones that are left from last summer. Could the buds be growing already? I picked up a leaf, and what do you know? There was a little bud cluster! I've never found them in bloom before early April, but who knows what this year will bring?

Doesn't this look like a spring-blooming shrub, yellow flowers against a backdrop of new green leaves? It's not, it's just last fall's Witch Hazel bracts against evergreen hemlocks, but the sight does make the heart leap up, does it not?

Whatever the season, Polypody Fern and Wintergreen look as fresh as new growth, despite the fact that they passed the winter under the snow.

Oh look what I found! A beautiful striped feather. Just lying there on the ice near shore, with no tracks of birds or mammals around it. It must have wafted there from somewhere else. It's about five inches long. I don't know what bird it belonged to. Anybody know?

I looked at the end, and saw that the feather was raggedly broken, not cleanly cut nor pulled out as if plucked. That information tells us something about how this feather detached from its bird. How do you think it happened?


suep said...

The feather looks like part of a turkey feather, sheared off...
love love the blueberry photo, they are indeed lit up!

Ellen Rathbone said...

Not knowing the size of the feather, or feeling if it was fuzzy, I'd first guess barred owl would be fuzzy). But Sue's guess of a turkey is also very good (wouldn't be fuzzy).

As for the damage, well, sometimes feathers break, but it sure looks like something bit it off. Were there any others around? Tracks? Signs of slobber on the feather?

Sometimes a mystery remains a mystery.