Thursday, March 16, 2017

The cusp of Spring #phenology

This morning brought an East wind that was at my back as I headed off to see if the skunk cabbage has emerged yet. The wetland is still mostly frozen, according to the underfoot crunches instead of squishes, but I watched a few tiny splashes as melting snow became water drops which became a creek. Today's sunshine and milder temperatures prompted me to take my first wander of the year (dog walks don't count).

old windfallen birch feeding mushrooms
old windfallen birch feeding mushrooms
Photo by J. Harrington

It felt really, really good to get out and stretch my legs without slogging through soft snow or crashing through snow crusts. Winter's winds appear to have added notably to the blowdowns in the woods surrounding the property. At least I don't recall seeing as many last Autumn. In several instances, the tops of trees were snapped off, other times whole trees came down. The standing snags should make the local woodpecker population happy.

(barely) emergent skunk cabbage
(barely) emergent skunk cabbage
Photo by J. Harrington

Back to the skunk cabbage. It's just barely emergent. I had to search wide and far to find any in a locale where, in a week or two, it'll be obvious everywhere. The other noteworthy sign of Spring I noticed was a robin in a treetop. First one this year. If the weather cooperates, next week will be time to head south to a William O'Brien state park and check the status of marsh marigolds. Other years there's been a week or two lag between 25 miles South and local wetlands. I've reached a point where I'm more than happy to go and meet Spring part way.

Speaking of that, happiness that is, I was happy to make an update to yesterday's posting. I had neglected to mention that the forsythia leaves I was enjoying were on branches bought as bouquets a week or so ago, not those still bare, apparently barren and lifeless live forsythia bushes around the house. The other thing that made me happy, that I've been neglectful to mention, is thanking whoever posted last Sunday's posting or link somewhere that drew a bunch more attention than is normally the case. Thanks, whoever you are for whatever you did.

Triolet for Skunk Cabbage


Joyce Sidman


Skunk cabbage peeks up through the snow;
           the first flower in the wood.
Wreathed in an eerie purple glow,
up through the slick of soggy snow,
smelling of rotten buffalo,
           it rears its speckled hood.
Skunk cabbage peeks up through the snow;
           the first flower in the wood.


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