This winter has been colder than we’ve seen in several years, but the coldest winters always seem to come with a short break called a January thaw, and we’ve had ours this year. I think of it as a taste of spring in the dead of winter, and it is always welcome. January thaws usually last for about a week and temperatures rise an average of 10° F higher than those of the previous week. Spring has always been my favorite season so for me a thaw is also a tease that lights the pilot light of spring fever. By the end of February the fever will be strong.
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but that’s ice on the trail. I was glad that I wore my Yak Trax because there was nowhere you could go to avoid it except back the way you came.
At first glance you might think these were turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor), but it’s important to look at the underside of mushrooms when trying to identify them. Though they aren’t always shown on this blog I always try to get photos of their spore producing surfaces and any other features that might help in identify them.
The undersides of the mushrooms in the previous photo show that these fungi can’t be turkey tails because turkey tails have pores, not gills. Though many bracket fungi have gills, the multicolor gilled polypore (Lenzites betulina) shown in the photos is the only one that has both gills and white flesh. All of the other gilled bracket fungi have reddish brown flesh, which makes identifying the multicolor gilled polypore much easier than most. I also carry a pen and a small notebook to note things like white or brown flesh but a lot of times I don’t use it because I don’t like harming the mushrooms. I like to leave the woods exactly as I found them if I can, so the next person can see the same things I’ve seen.
Evergreen intermediate wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia) looks fragile, but it can take a lot of weather. I found these examples growing in a crack in a room sized boulder. This is one of just a handful of true evergreen ferns. I usually expect to find another evergreen fern called polypody or rock cap ferns (Polypodium vulgare) growing on boulders but I didn’t see any in this area.
The only time nature seems to be in a hurry is when snow melt rushes downhill. There was a lot of rushing going on this day.
All that water had to go somewhere and with the soil still frozen a lot of it puddled up in low spots in the woods. Mini ponds like the one in the photo could be seen everywhere. Many were about the size of back yard skating rinks and once re-frozen they would have been great to skate on.
Along the Ashuelot River the ice shelves hanging out over the water were collapsing under their own weight. Not a good time to find yourself accidentally standing on one of these!
Jelly creps (Crepidotus mollis) are small, quarter sized “winter mushrooms” that like to grow on hardwood logs. They are also called soft slipper mushrooms and feel kind of spongy and flabby, much like your ear lobe.
The gills of the jelly crep are soft and turn from whitish yellow to brown as they age. You can see how these mushrooms grow in overlapping tiers in this photo.
Red maple flower buds (Acer rubrum) are just waiting for the signal. These are one of my favorite early spring flowers and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. The flowers, twigs, leaf stems, seeds, and autumn foliage of this tree all come in varying shades of red.
The sun came out,
And the snowman cried.
His tears ran down
On every side.
His tears ran down
Till the spot was cleared.
He cried so hard
That he disappeared.
~ Margaret Hillert, January Thaw
Thanks for coming by.