Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Signs of Spring

I went looking for signs of spring on my walk Tuesday and was not disappointed. It was warm and sunny and so I heard peepers and tree frogs singing, there is one that sounds just like someone is rubbing their thumb across a comb, very loudly. They stop singing when you get near, then start up again as you pass by. They are almost impossible to spot because they are tiny and blend perfectly with the tree trunks and stop singing when you get close, so it’s really hard to see them. But their singing, from the creeks and the marsh, is most definitely the first song of spring.

I found the first trout lily and the first hepatica, which always bloom earlier than anything else. This is only the beginning as over the next few weeks the ground will be covered with the gray green spotty leaves and yellow flowers of the trout lily. Hepatica is less common and the most ephemeral of all the wildflowers, only blooming for a week or two.

Another sure sign that spring is on the way were the maple blossoms littering the path, red and yellow if you look real close. They stand out bright and frilly against the brown and gray leaf litter on the ground.

The witch hazel is in bloom around the pond, long yellow tassels sway in the breeze, so loaded with pollen they send off a cloud of dust if you touch them. There are tiny red tips above the tassels, not sure what their function is, maybe they become the small cones the plants sport in the fall.

Winter wrens and juncos are still about, bluebirds are checking out the nest boxes and singing up a storm so it won’t be long before the birds begin to make their shift. We got a half inch of rain yesterday and today is cold and windy, this capricious weather is just so February.

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