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, totake 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 veritabletsunami of new life, oh-so-gradually ﬂooding the land, re-infusing it with the very Life-force thathas 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 areprobably 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 kettles of Vultures and a gradually increasing number of Bald Eagles (one local pair has two hatchlings!). Soon, they will all have ﬂedglings to fuss over. 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 promotetheir own kind and inadvertently feed birds and small rodents (recent rains have helped promotea 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 MourningCloaks, Whites, Compton Tortoise Shells and Captains. Also winging their way northward rightnow from the mountains of Michoacan are the majestic Monarchs, making their epochal journey,arriving in the summer, to grace our ﬁelds and meadows with their regal beauty (seewww.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 mostvociferous of all) and Wood-frogs, as well as Spotted- and Striped Salamanders and Red Efts. Ihave seen a Snapping Turtle, Eastern Painted Turtles 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 subtleshades of greens, many red, some yellow or even white. If you look in the woods right now, youwill see a still-faint green or red haze, rapidly becoming more distinct and more green with eachday. All it needs is the right combination of water and sunlight and so far this season has beena good one for both. Most spectacular among the trees are the ﬂowering ones - FloweringDogwood, Spicebush, Shadbush, Wild Cherry, Chokecherry, Crabapple and others - vividcounterpoints to the changing 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 Beauties, Woods Anemones, Trout-lilies, Dutchmen's Breeches and the beautiful verdant carpet of unfolding young CanadaMayﬂower (Wild Lily-of-the-Valley) leaves,soon to be topped with their delicate little whiteﬂowers, decorating the forest ﬂoor. It is amazing when you realize that miles and miles of the local forest ﬂoor is carpeted withMayﬂowers - really one of the most dominantplants of early spring in our area, yet subtleenough 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 behindchips of tree-bark. In this time, I ﬁnd that I want to record every bush, shrub and tree, to showwhat beauty it had in the Spring, when the bright, high-nitrogen-infused green-ness ruled theland, to then become the darker, rich verdure of full leaf-out summer. Now, we can still see aways into the woods, to mark that boulder in the near-distance, or that cairn that will soon behidden by the fullness of the seasonal canopy - secrets the forest will hide until the Lady nextsheds 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 ; look for my hikes posted on Woodstock Trails and on Instagram at rangerdaveholden ; please visit my updatedwebsite - www.woodstocknytrails.com