April 8– spring has sprung!

As I wrote earlier, spring has been a bit slow in coming this year.  For the past several weeks, warmish mild days have alternated with cold, mostly sub-freezing nights.  Saturday (the 6th) followed this pattern, and we woke up Sunday morning with just the slightest touch of frost on the ground.   And that was the end of that– yesterday saw our first over-70 temperatures, and our first actual warm night of the year.  The birds have been going crazy (it’s a shame that I can only share the sights and not the sounds of springtime in this journal), an avian cacophony all day, sliding into the creaking and croaking of frogs at the pond in the evening.

Today was the first warm morning, and the first really hot day of the year.  In the morning, I was doing my monthly road clean, leading a group of visitors to Twin Oaks around the “half block” of roads near the community and picking up trash.  And although it was a bit on the warm side, being that it’s the first hot day of the whole year, I can’t really complain (especially since I had to cancel road clean last month because of cold rain and sleet).

On the way down to the courtyard, I noticed these leafy pods from the Juneberry bush (why it’s called Juneberry when it fruits in May is anyone’s guess)… Image

Setting off on our road clean walk, I looked into the woods, where the undergrowth shrubbery is bursting into leaf, taking advantage of the last couple of weeks of full sunlight before the trees leaf out and cast the forest floor into six months of shade.Image

Many of the neighbor’s trees are in full flower, and some are even past the height of flowering and starting to grow leaves.  This maple tree, covered with tiny red flowers, was especially impressive.Image

The forsythia has been blooming for a couple of weeks now.  Normally, I am not a great fan of this shrub, finding its colors excessively bright and garish, but this particular one, growing in a neighbor’s yard is possibly the largest, most impressive forsythia bush I’ve ever seen

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All along the roadside, wild violet-like flowers were blooming everywhere.Image

As I walked back through the community following the road clean, I walked through the Tupelo orchard, where the peach trees are beginning to blossom in spectacular fashion.  Image

quite an impressive sight…Image

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Another first– it was the first pond-swimming day of the year! After lunch, the kids begged me to take them swimming, and on a day like today I couldn’t refuse.  The water was still shockingly cold, but the air was hot and eventually I worked up the courage to immerse myself in the frigid water (in which the children– with nearly 0% body fat had been splashing about like little sea otters).

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At the water’s edge was a cool-looking mud wasp mound.

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looking down into the mouth of the mud wasp nest.Image

On the way back, I walked past one of our ornamental gardens, where I saw this flower (which I saw a week back in the cemetery), but here it came in many colors, and was at the height of bloom.  I’m not quite sure what type it is, but this is definitely its preferred time of year.Image

close-up of one of the flowers, with a happy honeybee feeding on its pollen.  The insect life around here has definitely started ramping up.  In the past few days, I’ve seen my first bees and wasps of the year, several different species of butterflies (a yellow and black one that may have been a monarch, plus a mostly black one with bright blue bands on the edges of its wing).  Image

Looking ahead at the weather forecast, the days are all in the 80’s and 90’s, without a hint of frost at night.  I think that it is safe to say that spring has definitely arrived in central Virginia.  Image

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