Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Boy's Winter

I was wakened by the subtle flash and rumble that, not more than a minute later, became the brilliant glare and shattering crash of this year's first post midnight, pre dawn thunderstorm. The rains came, soaking what would normally be earth frozen forty inches, give or take. The birds had been arriving for over a week, vees of geese are seen and heard, while the prehistoric calls of sand hill cranes are heard, all traveling northerly. Comb-playing chorus frogs have made their seasonal debut and chipmunks have ascended from their dens. The grays and pale orange-reds predominating the woods are often punctuated by intense, moisture-activated greens. Most lakes have lost their ice and those that haven't remain only a stormy-green skim coat of icy slush. Most of all, even by last year's early spring standard, the trees have been budding strong and flowering early. The silver maples of the middle slough have been fully in flower for over a week. This is El Nino in the Midwestern north.

It should still be winter by calendar, averages, and tradition and this post should be timely. It is not, however, by fact and experience. Winter is over before its time and this is its eulogy.

Strong winds raked snow and desiccated grasses across the large wetland, leaving easy access for bipeds like myself.

This winter's fluctuating temperatures created a nearly constant stream of runoff from the little wetland which pooled at the northern end of the large wetland. It was a popular watering hole for all the Big Woods' animals.

Freezing and thawing of the pool made for unique ice crystals.

The dead trees of the large wetland, killed by higher water or blight.

Orange lichens on the south side of the trunks.

Wet feet is not a problem for Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus sericea.

Its branches a brilliant red in the sunny open of the wetland.

A protective structure for warm season nesting.

An unknown plant, possible weed, growing in the center of the wetland.

A rare view of the house from the wetland.

The earliest sign of approaching spring -emerging buds of shrub willows.

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