March 15– beware the Ides

 

Over the past couple days, I had occasion to travel up to Baltimore to speak in a couple of classes at Goucher college.  So I didn’t get to observe much in the way of central Virginia nature.  I did observe a couple things– first, that Baltimore, although not all that far north of Virginia, is certainly a lot colder than around here, or at least it was yesterday!   And on the campus of Goucher, I saw a couple of enormous shelf mushrooms that looked like something out of a Paul Stamets book (I don’t know what sort they were, but they looked kind of like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_iKawzGKhsv0/S80bXBWxNcI/AAAAAAAAFuo/IdHgsMVU-ZU/s1600/GiantShelfFungus.jpg)

I was quite happy to get back to sunny central Virginia yesterday afternoon.  Today wasn’t quite as sunny, but I took a stroll around the community to see how things have been going in my absence.

The ground has dried out a bit from the crazy snow and rain of last week, but there are still places where the forest floor bears the imprint of the cascades of water that must have been moving along at the height of the storm.  Image

All over one part of the forest, this little plant was starting to poke its way up through the leaves.  I’m not sure what it is, but there certainly was a lot of it.Image

I got to thinking about how, once the leaves come out, it will be a bit sad that all of the vegetative growth of the warm season will obscure the shape of the trees, especially the smooth-barked birch trees that are so abundant in our woods.  This intertwined pair is growing just a couple hundred feet from my house (which you can see in the lower left). Image

Walking along the edge of high south field, it is plain to see that the tender green grass of spring is beginning to poke up over the dead yellow thatch of winter, although it hasn’t completely broken through yet.IMG_2600

A few years ago, a frequent visitor to Twin Oaks from North Carolina was planning on moving to Colorado.  He was growing pitcher plants, carnivorous plants that are native to North Carolina swamps.  He figured that they might do well here (and certainly wouldn’t in Colorado), so he planted a couple on the edge of our pond’s biopool.  This afternoon, I went up to see how they lasted the winter, and to weed them, which I try to do a couple times a year.  I saw that they are still alive, although in rough shape (as might be expected in mid-March), and that someone had already weeded them earlier this winter, or perhaps last fall.  I’ll check back in on them when it warms up and they grow their pitchers, maybe even see them catch some bugs.Image

 

And that’s the Ides of March at Twin Oaks, with the early signs of spring poking through everywhere you look, but the general look and feel of the landscape is still pretty late-wintery, still more yellow, gray, and brown in the color scheme than green, but a feeling in the air that things will change soon.Image

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