Spring is a time for reflection, growth, and processing, yet it seems to fly by before we even have time to reflect, grow, or process.
Where it seemed only yesterday, buds were swollen, Red Maple leaves unfurled and show off various hues of color caused by the presence of pigments called anthocyanins or carbohydrates that are dissolved in the cell sap and mask the chlorophyll. As our spring temperatures rise and light intensity increases, red pigment acts as a sunscreen to protect the plant from an increase in ultraviolet rays. And thus, spring reflects autumn, just with a much more subtle color palette.
Paper Birch leaves also had burst through their buds and I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to their accordion shape in this early stage. On such a sunshiny day, I also couldn’t help but admire the hairy twigs that glistened in the light.
But the star of the show, the one who exhibits the most colorful apparel, is the Striped Maple.
It’s not just tree buds to which one should pay attention, for Coltsfoot, a spring ephemeral whose composite yellow flowerhead resembles dandelions, blooms briefly. Of interest to me is that this plant grows in dry or wet lands we consider to be waste and thus brightens many a roadside soon after the snow melts. Plus, the flower stands atop a stem covered with reddish bracts and whitish hairs, but its green leaves won’t appear until after the golden flowers have withered. And notice the flower fly taking advantage of some nectar, as it unwittingly brushes against pollen before moving onto another to sip and unwittingly making a deposit.
Exploring in a moist location meant occasionally finding flowers who like wet feet, such as this Kidney-leaf Violet with a runway of purple veins on its lowermost petal. Though I didn’t spot any fliers taking advantage of the runway lights, I’m sure there were some who liked the approach.
And it wouldn’t be almost May without Mayflowers, aka Trailing Arbutus, already in bloom, some of it white, and others this pale pink. If you do nothing else, stop and smell this delightful scent of spring. And if you can, observe it closely to see if the pink deepens with age.
If you move slowly and with intention through the woods, as I tried to do today, you may just get to spot an Eastern Comma Butterfly flitting about and occasionally pausing. This is one of three who overwinter as adults, finding a safe place behind bark in which to wait out the dormant season, and then flying on early spring days when the sun shines. How do they do this with nectar not necessarily available at the start of their season? They search out tree sap.
Amidst my journey, I approached one body of water as quietly as possible, and was surprised to spot these Canada Geese. Many of them overwintered on open water in places like Saco River’s Old Course, but it seems they’ve been quite chatty everywhere I I go lately and I hear them before I see them. These two were as quiet as could be. They served as a reminder that we, too, should be quiet once in a while.
The air was filled with bird song and flight, though I couldn’t always spot the creators or identify them by sound, but this one I do know for it’s a frequent flyer (pun intended): Song Sparrow.
What it was up in wings about, I’m not sure, but a moment later it walked into the greenery, and like so many others of its kind, I lost track of it.
The most special of all sights that I spotted today were the developing Wood Frog tadpoles at my favorite vernal pool. It’s all happening so fast.
Too fast. I wish for incremental levels of greenery and blooming and growing. I wish for a slow unfolding. I don’t want to miss the nuances of the changing hues.
Some see spring as an in-between waiting season, but I want to draw it out and savor each moment. Don’t you?
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