Surely things are sprouting in your shoulder of the woods by now. My family went out and helped to collect maple sap just over two weeks ago; the maples had started to bud, but I spotted this/these in the woods: snowdrops. Does this flower grow in your neighborhood? Granted, I was about 10 miles away from my neighborhood, but it was still part of the same riparian system. Today, I saw two dandelion blooms in a neighbor’s yard. I have frequently been hearing the flute and tootle of a red-winged blackbird. This leads only to one inescapable conclusion–spring is on the move! Post your findings. The next challenge comes after Easter.
It’s March which can only mean that the white-knuckle grip of winter is loosening (though for the southern hemisphere, it’s on it’s way in three months–which I’m curious, by the way, what’s it like to celebrate Lent and Easter during the fall?).
So, the light endures longer, the temperatures creep up, the wet soil exudes odors once again. March is a month on the edge–balanced between winter white and spring brown. Robins have been spotted in SE Michigan as well as sandhill cranes. I haven’t remembered to check for them, but one might be able to spy snow fleas bouncing near the base of trees.
This month’s challenge doesn’t require any identification skills–though you still might want to employ them–go outside (of course) and submit the date when you notice the first buds sprouting. These buds (or in times of dearth–a bud) can be from some irises you planted (yes, I’m forgoing my chauvinism for all things native for this month) or from the tree you identified back in the fall or last month. Simply make sure it is a new bud and not a seedhead left over from last summer or fall.
What you might not know about tree buds is that if you have neighbors who keep honeybees, those bees, providing they survived the winter, will be out searching for nectar found in those tree buds. Sometimes maple, certainly basswood, but many trees are one of the earliest sources of nectar for honeybees here in the north at least. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you to look for snowdrops, usually the earliest of the wildflowers to appear–almost always before the vernal equinox.
There you are, readers. I’ve given you another opportunity to go outside, explore your ecosystem, and sharpen your ID skills. I’d love to see some posts about your first sightings of spring in your neighborhood. Let me know.
Were you able to ID any naked trees? It certainly helps when you know what the tree is when it’s “clothed.” Did you spot any with the beginnings of buds on them? A couple of maples down the street from me have buds that will probably burst out late next month.
Most people appreciate a tree that crowned in glory with leaves, but there is something attractive about a naked tree. Perhaps it is that it can’t hide any of its shape or branches. Possibly its the contrast of the landscape with the stark, muted tones of the bark. A snow or ice covered tree can be otherworldly if you take the time to observe. Whatever it might be, try to get out, enjoy the last of winter and notice some details in the arbor. Before you realize, spring will change the colors, textures, smells, and sounds around you.