People are getting spring fever and are starting to ask if it will ever warm up and if the snow will ever melt. The answers are easy-yes to both, but knowing when is a little more difficult. We’ve had a few days above freezing including one glorious 50 degree day with wall to wall sun, but most have been at least partly cloudy and have hovered on either side of freezing. The snow is melting but it is doing so slowly.
Still, the signs are everywhere.
When the wind turns and comes out of the north it is never kind and can and can be fierce at times. This row of maples stood up to it and caught the snow it carried before it could fall to the ground. That’s why the snow melted so quickly on the south side of the windbreak. In other places what was knee high a week ago now comes to just slightly over the shoe tops, but it is crusty and still tough to walk through.
Slow snow melt doesn’t have much effect on raising the level of streams like this one but a warm rain in the spring before the snow is completely melted can make small streams rage enough to scour the forest floor. I’ve seen the one pictured grow to more than 10 times this width overnight.
What little ice there is along the edges of the river is starting to either melt or break up. This slab was about 3 inches thick. I think this will be another year that the Ashuelot doesn’t completely freeze over. If so this will be only the second time in my lifetime that I can remember that happening. The first was last winter.
Though it looks like it might be a raging torrent, this is actually a sign that the snow is melting at a pace that the river can keep up with. When rapids like these have 6 to 8 feet of water over them, making them invisible, is when the river bears watching.
Because of the heavy snow it has been hard to find much of anything worth photographing in the woods, but now that the snow has melted away from stumps, trees and stones, lichens and mosses are appearing again.
This orange lichen was hard to miss. At first I thought it might be a lichen called Caloplaca holocarpa, but since that lichen likes to grow on limestone and this one was growing on granite, I’m leaning more toward granite firedot (Calplaca arenaria.) Natural limestone is scarce in New Hampshire, but we have plenty of granite.
The ice melted enough to reveal this moss (Hedwigia cillata.) It grows in sun or shade and is common on ledges and stone walls. It also grows well on asphalt and can be found on paving and asphalt roofs. It is said to be an excellent choice when considering a “green roof.”
I’ve always wondered what snow depth does to animals like deer. It must slow them down considerably, making them easier prey. I think this is a coyote’s front paw print. The animal had woven a slushy path in and out of low shrubbery along the river where beavers have been active. After rebounding from near extinction, coyotes began the slow trek eastward from the Midwest in the early 1900s, finally reaching New Hampshire in 1944. They are now found in every county in the state, but they stay out of sight.
The snow melts in curious, abstract ways sometimes. The setting sun washed this dirty snow with color.
There isn’t much melting going on at night yet. In fact we just had a night with 14 degrees below zero wind chills. But, I read that the planet Mercury could be seen just under the crescent moon if you looked to the west just after moon rise so I had to go out and see it. I saw the moon but didn’t see any sign of Mercury or anything else that looked like a planet. It was mighty cold so I didn’t dilly dally too long, waiting for Mercury to show up.
Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself. ~L.W. Gilbert
Thanks for stopping in.