The Lady has long since doffed her snowy mantle, exchanging it for her verdant Cloak of Life. As each day goes by, more and more bright-green leaves unfold from the safety of their buds, to take a chance on a new season, and while Spring seems to happen in ultra-slow-motion, its process is as inexorable as an incredibly massive, hemisphere-wide green glacier - a veritable tsunami of new life, oh-so-gradually flooding the land, re-infusing it with the very Life-force that has been dormant these long months. In other words, Spring has sprung - to the great relief of all.
The most obvious, visceral explosion of life-forms around us is avian. It seems that each day brings an increasing cacophony of bird-life, as each and every member of myriad species incessantly hunts for food and avidly builds nests to make room for the soon-to-arrive products of all their activity and cavorting. To name just a few: Barn-swallows; our over-wintering, tough little Black-capped Chickadees; Juncos; Bluebirds; Blue-jays; House- and Carolina Wrens; Red-wing Blackbirds; Great Blue Herons;
Belted Kingfishers; (Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are probably just leaving the Yucatán, tiny bodies winging northward on their epic flight) the ever-present Crows, much offended by even the mere PRESENCE of any Hawk; whether Red-tail, Red-shoulder, or Broad-wing; a couple of wakes of Vultures and a gradually increasing number of Bald Eagles (one local pair may have two or even three eggs!). Soon, they will all have fledglings to fuss over. Remember - birds have no sense of smell, so if you find an egg or a baby bird on the ground, and it is easy to replace it into the nest, do so - your having touched them will not freak out mom and dad. (This is in direct contrast to fawns - if you find a little Bambi seemingly alone in the tall grass DO NOT TOUCH IT! You may contribute to its death if you do. Fawns are born with no scent (incredible, but true) so that their mother can leave them while she desperately feeds to regain strength. Predators like Bear and Coyote will stalk right past them, not scenting them. What makes this extra-incredible is that Bears have the most powerful sense of smell of any mammal - 5 times more so than any dog - they can smell bird-seed up to 5 miles away. If you touch the fawn, you may imbue it with your scent, causing the doe to reject it, making it either starve or become easy prey.) Commensurate with the increased bird-activity, of course, is increased insect activity. More and more bugs and beetles are hatching out from under bark or leaf, in order to promote their own kind and inadvertently feed birds and small rodents (recent rains have helped promote a healthy early hatching of Midges). The most attractive insects, of course, are the butterflies and moths, colorfully punctuating our landscape. We've been blessed thus far with Mourning Cloaks, Whites, Compton Tortoise Shells and Captains. Also leaving the mountains of Michoacan right about now are the majestic Monarchs, making their epochal journey north, arriving in the summer, to grace our fields and meadows with their regal beauty (see www.journeynorth.org for all migrators). The amphibians have been out now for a bit, mating and laying eggs. They include various frogs: Bull Frogs, Green Frogs, Tree Frogs (the most vociferous of all) and Wood-frogs, as well as Spotted- and Striped Salamanders and Red Efts. I have seen a Snapping Turtle and know the other turtle-species must be around, too.
Every tree and shrub, every ground-hugging plant, all have buds on them, some different subtle shades of greens, many red, some yellow or even white. If you look in the woods right now, you will see a still-faint green or red haze, rapidly becoming more distinct and more green with each day. All it needs is the right combination of water and sunlight and so far this season has been a good one for both. Most spectacular among the trees are the flowering ones - Flowering Dogwood, Spicebush, Shadbush, Wild Cherry, Chokecherry, Crabapple and others - vivid counterpoints to the still-grey forest. Mullein rosettes are out, bright green and ready to jump to the sky. Beebalm is starting, as is Milkweed (not to get full-grown until their Monarch symbiotes are here). Before the forest canopy fills in, the Spring Ephemerals start their inexorable march: Spring Beautys, Trout-lilys, Dutchmen's Breeches and the beautiful verdant carpet of unfolding young Canada Mayflower (Wild Lily-of-the-Valley) leaves, soon to be topped with their delicate little white flowers, decorating the forest floor (in the pic above shown with Partridgeberries). It is amazing when you realize that miles and miles of the local forest floor is carpeted with Mayflowers - really one of the most dominant plants of early spring in our area, yet subtle enough that many miss it. Still to come are Brown- and Green Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Purple Trilliums and Starflowers.
LIFE SPRINGS BACK
It's truly an incredible season and it's always somewhat overwhelming trying to keep up with it all. Everywhere you turn, new life is springing up, from the ground, flying overhead, on the tips of tree-limbs, in the crystal-clear waters of stream and rivulet, even hatching out from behind chips of tree-bark. In this time, I find that I want to record every bush, shrub and tree, to show what beauty it had in the Spring, when the bright, high-nitrogen-infused green-ness ruled the land, to then become the darker, rich verdure of full leaf-out summer. Now, we can still see a ways into the woods, to mark that boulder in the near-distance, or that cairn that will soon be hidden by the fullness of the seasonal canopy - secrets the forest will hide until the Lady next sheds her leaves. Please enjoy this wondrous time. Slow down a bit and look around you - it will all disappear into Summer before we know it. Thank you all for your encouragement and support.
Take Care, "Ranger" Dave Holden. (845)594-4863; firstname.lastname@example.org ; please visit and Like Woodstock Trails on Facebook; Follow me on Instagram at rangerdaveholden