I’m sure everyone has heard about the great nor’easter of 2017 that hit us last week. This photo was taken in my back yard after I got home from work. It was snowing heavily.
Getting home was difficult and took me twice as long as usual. We didn’t have true blizzard conditions here but I hope I never have to drive through a storm like that one again because the wind was blowing the snow around so much it was hard to see where I was going. Some parts of the state were hit very hard and lost power for nearly a week. This photo could have been taken in January but unfortunately it was taken on March 15th. I took one in January at this same spot that looked almost identical.
At my house I had just over 10 inches of snow when I got home, and another 2 or 3 fell that night. Some places had twice what I had here.
After a week of temperatures in the high 60s F. and bare ground during the last week of February this storm and the bitter cold afterwards were disappointing. It was almost as if winter had been rewound somehow and was starting all over again, but the sun came back out as it always does and it’s getting gradually warmer, in fits and starts. Temps are back in the high 40s and the snow is melting again.
This shot of Half Moon Pond was taken before the storm. It was frozen over at this point but the ice was melting quickly and by the time the storm hit open water could be seen. Once the storm came it froze over quickly, and so it’s now covered in snow again.
If there is one thing I’ll remember most about this winter it is the ice. It has been terrible and is everywhere, including on all of the trails that I visit. Getting around has been difficult, to say the least.
Because of all the ice we’ve had to use many thousands of tons of salt and sand on the roads and walkways. This photo shows what our roads and walks look like now; stained by salt.
Spring is still on the march but you have to look for it because many of the signs are subtle, like when last year’s beech and oak leaves finally start to fall.
Also subtle is the swelling of buds; these lilac buds are a perfect illustration of how it happens. The dark red colors on the bud scales once met, so when you saw the buds they looked completely red. But then they began swelling and the red parts pulled apart, revealing an orange stripe. When you see this you know the buds are getting bigger. Before long the scales will pull back completely, revealing the tiny flower bud cluster inside. It’s a great thing to watch happen.
A single pea size bud of a Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) illustrates how, when water taken up by the roots swells the bud, the bud scales open to reveal the flowers inside. This doesn’t happen on all plants; magnolias for instance have only a single furry bud scale that simply falls off.
In northern Greece early Neolithic people left behind remains of meals that included cornelian cherry fruit. Man has had a relationship with this now little known shrub for about 7000 years. The Persians and early Romans knew it well and Homer, Rumi, and Marcus Aurelius all probably tasted the sour red, olive like fruit, which is high in vitamin C. Cornelian cherry is in the dogwood family and is our earliest blooming member of that family, often blooming at just about the same time as forsythias do.
I was worried that the red maples (Acer rubrum) had misjudged the weather when I saw some flowers dangling on a few trees. Chances are good that the blossoms that appeared early are dead but as this photo shows, there are still plenty tucked into their bud scales.
These daffodils weren’t so lucky and these leaves are finished. They’ll probably still bloom but without leaves they can’t photosynthesize to make food, so they probably won’t bloom next year.
Some daffodils still looked good and I think what made the difference was the snow depth. Snow is a good insulator so it probably protected these budded plants from the cold, while the ones in the previous photo probably had no protection.
Once again I was amazed to see this vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) blooming after a foot of snow and temperatures barely above zero. It’s a very tough plant and one I’d like to have.
A chipmunk peeked out of his tree to see if it was spring yet. I knew just how he felt, so for an instant we probably both thought as one.
One day you stepped in snow, the next in mud, water soaked in your boots and froze them at night, it was the next worst thing to pure blizzardry, it was weather that wouldn’t let you settle. ~E.L. Doctorow
Monday the first day of spring marked the start of my seventh year of blogging, so a big thank you to all the regular readers for putting up with it for so long. I hope I’ll be able to show you many new things this year.
Thanks for coming by.