Silent Snow

A white wash of snow and everything appears fresh and immaculate once again.

goldfinch feast

All morning long, the goldfinches partook in a feeding frenzy.

chickadee 2

Meanwhile, from the nearby lilac bush, a chickadee waited patiently for its turn at the feeder.

chickadee suet

But goldfinches like to hang out, so the chickadee settled for some suet instead.

snow on pines

Later in the day, I made time for a walk. I thought I’d need snowshoes, but discovered they weren’t necessary. While the trees are well coated, we only received about four inches–which equates to less in the woods right now, given that the evergreens and hardwoods are holding the snow. As I write, however, I can hear the wind blow and trust that tomorrow the world will look different.

bobbles on pines

Because it had snowed, I couldn’t resist noticing the different ways it sticks to trees and plants. While the mature pines in our woodlot indicate that the storm came in from the north, these pine saplings don’t give any clues about direction. Their presentation is more ornamental–like bobbles on a Christmas tree.

snow pine needles

Or spiring up a pine, offering a stairway to heaven.

steeple 2

As I walked along, I stopped frequently to appreciate how the flakes clasped the woody weeds like steeplebush,


asters and

Evening primrose

evening primrose.

Indian Tobacco 1

Even the delicate papery capsules of the Indian tobacco provided a resting place for a few flakes.

sensitive 4

By a patch of sensitive fern spore stalks I made a discovery that has alluded me in the past. I always admire the beady fruiting structure of this fern. Each bead encapsulates many round spore cases and each case contains the dust-like spores.

sensitive, open 2sensitive lacy

What I never noticed until this afternoon is that once those spore cases have opened, the structure takes on a lacy look.

I thought only the gray squirrels had ventured out during the storm until I came upon the prints of this other bounder–a weasel that made its way to a stone wall where little brown things probably became a feast-de-résistance.

Turkeys had also passed through these woods. Six had been frequenting our neighborhood, but the other day I saw seven in our yard and yesterday nine crossed the field.

silent path

I’d followed the silent snowmobile trail for a ways and after looking down at the turkey tracks, I looked up and noticed the sun shining on the trees above.

sunshine contrast

Suddenly, it was a world of contrasts.

fern leaves

Going off trail found me pausing by ferns, which grow aplenty in this wetland paradise. Again, it was the snowflakes gathered on their leaves that pulled me in for a closer look. Crystals juxtaposed against veins.

interrupted fern

The light was changing as I came upon the spent spore-heads of interrupted fern.

And then I realized I was at a second vernal pool I’ll visit periodically over the next few months. Today, in the soft colors of the setting sun, I discovered snow pillows that remind me of the amphibians who inhabit this place. A glimpse into the future.

snow doughnut

As I made my way home, bushwhacking, or rather snow stumping, and then retracing my steps, I came upon this sweet moment–a snow doughnut. And then I saw that deer had been playing, their prints on top of mine. I never heard them and yet . . . we were in such close proximity. And the weasel had crisscrossed the path several more times. One of these days I’ll sit still and watch.

sunset 1

But today as the critters and I moved about, the snow provided a dose of silence that was appreciated by all.

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