April 10 – in the swing of spring

 

In the winter, it sometimes felt that nature was on perma-pause, that as I went out day after day, there really wasn’t much new to see, and I had to push myself to notice differences between one week and the next. Not the case now– today was another exceptionally hot, dry, sunny day (high of 93 this afternoon!), and all around the community flower buds were bursting into bloom, leaf buds splitting open to reveal the freshest new growth, the plant world exploding like a time lapse photo. Hard to keep up, to observe and process things in any systematic way when every tree, shrub, bush, and weed you see looks entirely different than it did a few days ago.

 

Recounting an odd thing that I saw last night, in the early evening, going down to a bonfire party.  First off, I saw several bats flying over the pond, feasting on all the newly active insect life– the first bats I’ve seen this year.  Then, around 10:00 PM, someone spotted a large crayfish crawling across the grass towards the fire.  It was an impressive blackish beast– probably 6 or 7 inches long, by far the longest crawdad I’ve ever seen in Virginia, more like a little lobster than the inch-long things I see in the creek sometimes.  What was it doing out last night?  Where did it come from?  Why was it crawling through the grass towards the fire? It was one of the more random things I’ve ever seen at Twin Oaks!

This afternoon, I headed on down to the South Anna river and went on a canoe trip with all the kids– a raucous outing with a lot of splashing and jumping in and out of the river.  I didn’t take many pictures (as naked kids, cameras, and blogs don’t really go well together), but here’s one, which gives a sense of what the river’s looking like these days.

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While we were canoeing downriver, at one point we startled a large great blue heron which took off over the trees, looking for all the world like some holdover from the Jurassic era.  At another point, I saw a muskratty-looking mammal scurry up the bank and into the woods, but it was too far away to get a good look.

All of the fruit bushes in my back yard have begun to flower and leaf out.  Sometime soon, I’ll spend a day just photographing the back yard and everything going on there; for now, here’s a cool photo from one of our blueberry bushes.  Each of those little buds will turn into a delicious blueberry come summer!Image

The leaves on the maple trees have started opening up.  This happened just today– yesterday all the leaf buds  were closed up tight, and this evening there are tiny little clusters of maple leaves growing out of the end of every branch.  The bushes and vines have been getting leaves for a couple weeks now, but as of today it’s happening on the larger trees as well.Image

I finished the day up at Tupelo, where the plum tree over the driveway has started flowering and leafing out simultaneously.  I feel like in the past the flowering has happened first, but the heat has come on so suddenly that everything is just happening at the same time.  As the sun set, I swung in a hanging chair on the Tupelo porch, warm in t-shirt and shorts, watching the light fade through the trees and the bats cartwheeling through the clearing, breathing in the intoxicating scents pouring off of this plum tree.Image

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