Friday, March 13, 2015

Feeling Lucky, Bud?

Above the groundwater ponding in the middle swale (there's two, you see) are rather tall trees, maples and basswood, mostly. I don't think I need to point out that it is still winter, technically anyways, but the maples above the water are budding. Yesterday a great wedge of Canada Geese flew overhead, actually making their way to Canada, on strong southerly winds. Does everything know something I do not? I'm hardly ready for spring, as always I want to hold onto the slow pace of winter for just a bit longer, get some last thing settled before the rush of warm weather busy-ness.

What do you think? I think the maples crazy, but then I saw the very same thing at the ever so slightly warmer Mississippi River yesterday evening. Did I mention there are two months, sixty days, until last freeze? Is this how spring always is in the Big Woods? Probably not. After all, we went from negative eleven degrees last Thursday to over fifty or sixty degrees each day this week! What could be holding the plants back? I can hardly blame the maples for not holding it in, but they may just make a mess of sap season.

In other news, I have been keeping my eyes on the exposed groundwater in the back swale. There is still ice, with plenty of water on top. The frost heaved muck makes for treacherous travel where giant air pockets sit waiting for a boot to suck on. And then there's the duckweed. It's already growing. Yes, a week after subzero temperatures, boom, chlorophyll, CO2 and everything. 

Of course, duckweed, Lemna spp., is a fascinating plant. Not only are there many species, they can be hard to identify. I'm not fanatical about this, but this guy is if you're up for it. All we really need to know is this: duckweed likes still water, sun, and a boatload of nutrients. If you've got duckweed, you got those. What I want to know is from where the nutrient load is coming. Is it inherent to the organic material decaying in the back swale or is it running off from, say (don't mean to gross you out) a few upslope septic systems? Small point, really, and I don't have an answer, may never.

 And finally, the elusive Pileated Woodpecker tap tap tapping away, before the sun came up.

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