Saturday, March 11, 2006

9 days 'till spring

Everything is soggy and melting. The sun was warm. For walking today, rubber boots were required. The boots are three sizes too large and if you look closely at the boot on the right, just above the ankle,you'll notice a small hole...

Dried leaves from last fall which were buried in snow must attract heat. They have created a cut-out shape of themselves in the melting ice.

A large old oak and, to a lesser extent, the maple next to it, have had the tenderest bark on the smaller braches stripped off by a hungry porcupine. A few small hawthorns nearby have also been chewed upon. It was not a big porcupine that I spotted the other afternoon, near the top of one of those trees. What will happen to the tree, damaged as it is like this? Will it leaf out, die back, get diseased?

The sound of running water is everywhere. As the snow thaws, it collects in the lower lying areas of the fields. All this runoff swells the streams and rivers. In places it floods, overflowing the banks. My mother never scolded us when, as kids, we invariably got wet at this time of the year. My dad probably was the one who showed us the power and dangers of water, especially spring flooding. He had the patience to answer questions and he was always pointing things out on our Saturday afternoon walks. Talking, explaining about running water, currents, mud and quicksand, he also allowed us to have an adventure. He encouraged us to test things, take risks, be daring, have fun. Sometimes we fell in. Our judgment improved as we saw how seldom Dad himself got in trouble, although he waded in the creeks with us. How different it is for kids today. They are so protected they can't learn to judge anything like this for themselves. Experience is sometimes the best teacher; feeling the current so strong you can barely stay on you feet you get a healthy respect for water. Crossing the running water here, I could see water under the ice as well as on top of it. Nervously I prayed that the ice would hold, or I'd be in mighty deep. The tops of my boots were well above the water, so I was not sure at first what had happened, why one foot was suddenly so icy and wet: that's when I discovered the hole in my boot.

In one of the fields, weeds took over the unplanted, plowed-up soil. There was quite a crop: prostrate pigweed Amaranthus graecizans, red-root pigweed Amaranthus retroflexus, Canada thistle Cirsium arvense, annual sow thistle Sonchus asper, and green smartweed Polygonum lapathifolium for starters! Here, if you look closely, you can see the thousands of small black seeds in the ice that have fallen from the Amaranths! A very common annual weed, you can see...there's going to be trou-ble!

In a tangle of wild grapevine throwing itself over a sapling, I spied this little, dead creature about 10 feet off the ground. By pulling the grapevines downward towards me, I was able to snap these pictures. What is it? A shrew? A deermouse? How did it get up in the grapevines? Maybe somebody knows better than I.

Molly is thinking about that huge stump (she thinks quite slowly, like Pooh). On our walks, this stump usually gets a thorough examination by the dogs. It is slowly disintegrating under the assault of raccoons, insects and rot. Who knows what creatures have been enjoying this stump? Perhaps the dogs know.

More melting snow water.

It was a quiet walk today, for a Saturday. Maybe because the ice on the lake is not safe, skidoos did not seem to be about. In the blessed absence of their raw droning there was birdsong. The other morning, the robin singing was not a dream; I saw two today. There were also red-wing blackbirds, crows (that must mean the sap is running for maple syrup) and Canada geese. An unseen pileated woodpecker sure was doing some loud damage to a tree in the woods!

The lake beyond the trees:

Another sunset photo for my brother T., who lives in Alaska. This view down the hill, beyond the bottom of our yard reveals the lake through the trees. The lake, and the cottages along the shore, will be hidden from sight when the trees leaf out.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gwyn said...

The sunset in particular is gorgeous, and many of the scenes mirror my area about a week ago.

Funny you should mention the change in childhood experience in this post. Just yesterday I was hiking in the bottomland forest along the LaCrosse River. There is a little hiked area I like that clearly is used by kids with bikes, building up their "jumps." This I knew, but yesterday I also discovered a ramshackle treehouse that has seen recent use by kids, and thought it was just grand--and should have taken photos of this rare sight!

5:38 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

Kids can be quite inventive when allowed free reign for imaginative play. We had bicycle jumps and forts too! Doesn't everything kids do seem more structured and protected these days? Where can kids go anymore where things are left a bit wild, where adventures can happen?

9:58 PM  
Blogger quaint said...

Nice boots :) I have light-green boots, and ligh blue. I guess i'm little fan of boots :D BTW I'm from Finland, but I have few friends in Canada.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

Nice to hear from you, 'quaint'. Since your profile is not public, I was hoping to get acquainted with you through your blog...no luck.

2:40 AM  

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