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Stirrings

With winter relatively benign and safely (?) passed, the curtain rises

on an at last-full pond and a typically atypical New England spring, revealing both broad and intimate vistas of calm and content:

Mute swan

With temperatures departing in both directions from a notional norm, wind-pumping and variable water level (but not, in this case, aquatic mammals) keep open a breathing hole

in slush that nightly re-freezes

—though not, sadly, breath enough to sustain all who lurk beneath, even with chill-slowed metabolisms. So when the ice clears, placid waters

yield up the unfortunate:

Decay being much retarded by cold, this can lead to unproductive confusion when incontinent enthusiasm trumps situational awareness:

But the cycle continues,

as cycles do;

and with advancing warmth, other poikilotherms emerge to share space in the sun:

The peaceable coexistence of the mutually inedible

 

Plants, too, return or arrive anew: from root, shoot

Parrotia persica

or seed, with last year’s shed husks

helping to warm and moisten tender new growth. A few, desiccated in autumn to concentrate antifreeze sap, simple re-inflate, like this improbably native prickly-pear:

Opuntia humifusa

Early bees mob fragrant crabapple

and intoxicating rhododendron

R. minus var. minus

 

Queen of queens, older than bees (and some hills), the magnolia

M. ‘Daybreak’

 

M. ‘Red Baron’ × ‘Rose Marie’

depends mainly on beetles to tickle its robust fancy:

Another ‘Daybreak’

One of the earliest displays of native color, unmuted by later-emerging leaves, is the eastern redbud:

Cercis canadensis

Some species proffer catkins, like sweetfern

Comptonia peregrina

and birch:

Betula

 

Promises of sweet treats to come are dangled by mulberry

Morus

and Indiana banana:

Asimina triloba

Among birds, even the migratory leave winter reminders, like Baltimore oriole nests wind-tattered in tree

or driven aground:

And as returned or over-wintered birds perambulate in search of sustenance,

others are always watching for the location of food, which may include the watched themselves:

Raising a family rquires high-energy victuals, for both parents and offspring; suet is a reliable favorite with blue- and catbirds:

Even in such a rich woodland, contesting needs of food and shelter can lead to jarring juxtaposition:

House finch

 

Other uninvited (but not unwelcome) users of avian-targeted services include raccoon

and red squirrel:

Fleet though they are, such exhibitionists,

as well as more reclusive mice and voles, are efficiently harvested by the diminutive but un-shy long-tailed weasel:

Life asserts itself on many scales of size and time. So while humans may revel in the large and transient, as this rainy evening’s pink-on-pink bow,

an inch-wide, sixteen-year-old lichen just settles more deeply on its durable pegmatitic bed: