Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Inches In

I'm feelin' it.  Spring's on its way.  The air's a little softer, the sun's a little warmer, the ground's a little softer underfoot, and except for where the plows piled it up, nearly every trace of snow is gone.  There was even some bright blue sky today, which certainly added to the pleasure of a walk along Bog Meadow Nature Trail.  There was still solid ice on parts of the open marsh, but the water in the creek that runs through the marsh was flowing free and reflecting the clouds and sky.

The wash of dark red among all the dull dead grass in the marsh is due to thickets of Red Osier Dogwood.  I know that its branches remain red all winter, and maybe they just seem brighter in spring because they are illuminated more directly by a sun that is higher in the sky.  Or maybe they do grow redder in spring.  This little clump growing over the stream was certainly vivid.

When I reached the bridge that crosses the creek, I left the trail to follow the creek into a swamp that stretches as far as the eye can see.   At my approach, a Great Blue Heron, the first I've seen this year, lifted its long gray wings and flapped slowly away to disappear among the far trees.

I took advantage of the still-mostly-frozen ground to venture more deeply into the swamp than I will be able to do when the weather warms and the mud between the hummocks of Tussock Sedge becomes too mucky to walk on.

I had to walk carefully today to avoid trampling the Skunk Cabbage that thrives along the edge of the stream.

Some of the bulbous spathes of Skunk Cabbage are red and others are mottled green, but this one stood out because it was both larger than most and also bright yellow.

That big yellow spathe was also more open than all the others I'd seen, so I peeked in to find that, sure enough, the flowers that covered the spadix within had anthers already covered with pollen.   So there it is, folks.  We can mark today's date as the day I found the first flower of spring.

And here's what's left of one of last year's flowers.  This is Great Angelica, a monumental Parsley-family plant that stands over six feet tall and whose flower stalks persist all winter long.  The structure of its flower head reminds me of those starburst fireworks that keep on exploding into more and more stars.

There were flocks of ducks on the open marsh, but of course they flew away before I could get my camera focused, or before I could see them well enough to identify their species.  Our old familiar residents, the Canada Geese, didn't bother to fly away, although they did stir a bit and murmur among themselves when they detected my head poking though the trailside hedge, trying to get a better gander at them.


Seema Patel said...

your blog is a treasure for any nature-lover..

Uta said...

Enjoying every picture and can't wait to wander outside myself.

Jens Zorn said...

Thanks, Jackie, for a wonderful opening to spring!

catharus said...

Lovely signs of spring! It's here and advancing however slowly -- inching in as you say so appropriately!