Monday, March 26, 2018

Spring Has Sprung! Here's Proof!

Gorgeous, today!  Soft warm air.  Blue sky from horizon to horizon. The sun beating down on rapidly melting snowbanks.  Sunlight sparkling on newly open waters.  Could winter really be over?  I went looking for signs that it might be, and oh happy day, I found them!

My first stop was Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park, and look what I saw!  The ice had retreated from the shore at last, a thin strip of open water darkly gleaming.

I hurried onto the wooded trail that would take me down to the water, undismayed by the carpet of snow that remained in the shade of the forest.  I knew when I reached the south-facing shore the snow would all be gone.

And so it was.  And see what else I found!  Among all the American Hazelnut shrubs that crowd these banks, I chanced upon one that was studded with bright red dots.

Here's a closer look at one of those dots, a bunch of tiny, cherry-red pistils sprouting out of a cone-shaped bud.  Here was one of the earliest blooms of spring, the Hazelnut's female flower.  No doubt about it, spring is here at last!

Well, I wondered, if hazelnuts are blooming now, might I also find Coltsfoot today?  I hopped in my car and hurried back to Saratoga and set off down the Spring Run Trail.

And sure enough, on a sun-warmed bank by a rushing stream, the bright little sunburst blooms of Coltsfoot were studding the brown leaf-litter.  I felt a wonderful jolt of joy, for here were the very first flowers of spring that actually LOOK like flowers!

There were lots of the actual first flowers of spring, Skunk Cabbage, swelling their bulbous spathes in the muddy brook that lines this inner-city trail.  Most of the spathes were a deep rich red, but some were this cheery yellow.  And look, the green shoot that holds this plant's enormous leaves has begun to emerge, as well.

I plucked a single spathe to investigate the spadix enclosed within, and a cloud of yellow pollen spilled out onto my hand.  No doubt about it, these flowers are well in bloom.

Happy to find all this evidence that winter is over at last, I felt I was walking on air instead of an asphalt walkway as I made my way back to my car.  The sun was so warm, I took off my coat, and as I lifted my face to the radiant blue sky, I was struck by this thicket of glowing Staghorn Sumac.  As the sumac's velvet captured the dazzling sunlight,  the branches were outlined in gold.


Anonymous said...

Our pussy willow tree is blooming!

threecollie said...

I am so ready for spring! Been watching for coltsfoot, but you are always way ahead of us on that for some reason.

Woody Meristem said...

Nice photo of the hazelnut flower. Even though we're far south of you coltsfoot still hasn't bloomed -- but skunk cabbage has been in full bloom for well over a week.