Thursday, February 10, 2011

I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out.

The data would suggest that I hate winter.  I mean, I am just having the hardest time going outside. I know I’ll feel more alive and vibrant and whatnot if I can just get out there and visit the neighbors, by which I mean, the trees, but UGH. It’s COLD.


This afternoon, knowing it was either that, or a dose of pre-dinner chocolate heroin sauce, I made myself go up into the woods behind the house.


Ahhhh…the woods. That’s much better. That’s the house, on the left. You can just make out the the solar panels, only the top few inches of which are clear of snow. The garage is in the middle (to the right of the dark tree); the pole barn is to the right. We’re on about ten acres, some of which is up here in the woods, and some of which is a beaver pond. More on that in a minute.

I saw a lot of fox trails. They don’t photograph particularly well.


Would you like to look at tree buds? The correct answer here is “yes, by all means!”  So, I recently pointed out beech leaves.


Well, here’s a beech bud. They’re stabby little buggers. Just wait another couple of months, and they’ll get even longer and pokier. Those things that look like scales are in fact, called scales. When you learn to identify trees in winter conditions, you find yourself paying attention to how many (if any) scales the buds have.


Take sugar maple (Acer saccharum), for example. Brown, 10 – 12 scales per bud. Here’s another maple – Acer pensylvanicum – striped maple or moosewood.


It might look from here as though there are no scales on these buds, but there are. If I’d taken this picture from a different angle, you’d see that there are two scales on these buds – facing each other, like two hands pressed together.

Back to the sugar maple. It’s covered in … what is that stuff? Moss? I don’t think it’s lichen. Huh.




Wow, something green…I remember green… I live in the Green Mountain State, right?

In other bark adventures, we have bark that gets shreddy horizontally, as with this paper birch…


And then we have more vertically-minded bark shreddiness, as with this hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)


Eventually my fingers threatened to freeze off, so I made my way out of the woods and headed to the mail box. (I’m not showing you the dozens of pictures of slightly-out-of-focus buds. Consider yourself lucky.)


Not that you can particularly tell from this, but the back edge of this ‘meadow’ is really the pond. There’s a beaver lodge in here. I’ll zoom in for you.


That mound. There’s a hole in the top of it – I noticed it the other day on a foray into the meadow. I wonder if anyone’s inside.

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