Displaying delicate fernlike leaves and white flowers resembling yellow-waisted pantaloons, hanging upside-down on a clothesline, it is one of Vermont’s early spring flowers. It flowers (Apr-May) just as bumblebees emerge after a long winter looking for nectar. The bumblebee’s proboscis is long enough to tap into the nectar, whereas the honey bee, having a much shorter proboscis, must look elsewhere. Known also as Dicentra cucullaria in the botanical world, it is closely related to Bleeding Heart, a common garden plant and to Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) another woodland wild flower. All are considered toxic if ingested in large quantities and may cause minor skin irritation.
An early sign of Spring to look for in our forests are tree circles. At this time of year, trees absorb sunlight (which excites electrons, creating heat) which is then radiated outward, melting snow. The darker the bark, the more radiant heat is created and the wider the circle becomes. Snow, being white, does just the opposite, it reflects sunlight. These melting circles are not just limited to trees, however. Inanimate objects, such as rocks, etc. also exhibit this phenomenon.
Snow rollers are a rare winter weather phenomenon that occur when the conditions are just right. They are cylindrical snow balls, usually hollow, formed with the help of strong winds (30mph) and temperatures in the 37-39 degree range. A layer of wet, loose snow, preferably with an ice layer underneath is pushed by the wind across fields or down slopes. Gravity certainly helps! Snow rollers can be small or quite large (car size). They are also known as Snow donuts.
10/21/20 We have officially entered Stick Season as I observe that most maples, birch, and ash have given up their hold on this year’s leaves. The stark silhouettes are now framed by what remains—the beech, which holds its leaves to the end and the firs and pines. It’s a transition time between the heat of this summer, the artistry of fall’s colors and the rush of the holidays to come. It’s a time to slow down, catch our breath and enjoy the quiet of Stick Season.
9/9/20 Another great find, Chicken of the Woods, a very desirable, beautiful and edible mushroom. I found this shelf fungus growing on a declining Ash tree. It was easily identified by its bright orange top and sulfurous yellow pores on the underside. ( I also confirmed my identification with a knowledgeable mushroom forager.) I collected 5 pounds to bring home to clean, cook and freeze some for winter soups. Delicious!
9/8/20 One blue Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) jumped and surprised me today, while working in my vegetable garden. The abnormal blue color is caused by the lack of the yellow pigment, a type of albinism. Remember, as children, we mixed blue and yellow together to make green? This blue frog, therefore is a rarity in nature, occurring in about 1:300,000.