| Feb 23, 2006

Nature Reflections

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Nature Reflections - February 23 , 2006

Waiting for Spring

by Jean Griffin

Is spring in the air? Depending on which Groundhog you listened to, spring may be early or late - which has nothing to do with the Groundhogs, but it makes a good way to celebrate the first part of February. There always is another six weeks before spring officially arrives.

For gardeners, while waiting, it is time to start planning for the opportunities spring brings - time to order seeds, and perhaps start some in the warmth of the greenhouse, or on a southern windowsill - time to start dreaming of the beauty of the garden flowers that will be emerging when the blanket of snow is gone. For bird watchers it is time to watch for the arrival of the earliest migrants, and to listen for the songs of the birds that have been absent over the winter. For farmers it is a time to prepare machinery and plan their spring chores, while waiting to see what damage the winter has wrought on the fields and fall seedings.


For those who enjoy the beauty of the wildflowers, it is a time of waiting - waiting for that final snowstorm and the melt that follows - waiting for the first emergence of tender leaves and the buds that accompany them - waiting for the first bloom of the new season. What will be first? Probably the Skunk Cabbage, which with its ability to produce warmth, may actually send forth its aromatic flower with snow still on the ground - not seen by many as they hide in swamps and wet marshes. Maybe it will be the Common Dandelion along the southern wall of a brick building - often in town where the shelter of many houses seems to produce more warmth. The Pussy Willows will be among the front runners, opening their fluffy white buds before the snow is gone, but they are not really in bloom until the yellow stamens appear. Meanwhile, the Beaked Hazelnut and the Speckled Alder are also showing change, while the Red Maple has probably already broken its bud and displayed its flowers.

In the woods, under the deciduous trees which are slow in coming into leaf, there will be an array of delicate flowers, close to the ground, and striving to catch the warmth of the sun’s rays that penetrate the trees before they are in leaf. The Hepaticas, both Round-lobed and Sharp-lobed, will be sending forth their beautiful flowers even before their own leaves are fully developed. On the face of a rocky slope there may be a sudden emergence of the Early Saxifrage’s white blooms. The Bloodroot pushes its buds up out of the ground and bursts into a beacon for an early passing insect. Not far behind the leaves of the Trout Lily will be followed by its buds and then the flowers. The Spring Beauty will add their soft pinkish-white flowers to the woodland floor. And so will many other plants that have been sleeping under the shelter of the winter blanket of snow.

As we wait for the beauty of spring, so do the birds and animals, the insects, the frogs and toads, the snakes, the turtles, and all the other creatures that make up our biota. And while humans celebrate the warmth and beauty the season brings, for the others it is a matter of survival of the species - the flowers to produce seeds, the birds and animals to have young, the insects, snakes, turtles and all the others to mate and have offspring which will be the future of the species when the spring returns next year.

Observations: Two male Redwinged Blackbirds seen, Burke Settlement, the first week of February may be regretting their early arrival. The five River Otters at the open water of Sharbot Lake will have no problem with the sudden return of winter, and the Mink seen by Shirley Peruniak along the edge of the lake will survive. Joe Slater, Crow Lake , had 12 Wild Turkeys spend a couple of hours under his bird feeders on February 18. Share your sightings. Call Jean at 268-2518 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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