And February drags on, with little change in the weather or landscape. When I was conceptualizing this project, I was a bit worried about this time of year, when it seems like nothing is changing or growing around here, just a monotonous succession of winter days. And I must confess, it’s easier to fantasize about friends in Florida, or the trip to California that I booked this morning, than it is to continue to find novelty and beauty in the inertness of central Virginia nature in mid-February.
At the birdfeeder, I saw my first finches of the year, which is a little surprising; in past years, goldfinches and purple finches were the most common visitors, and I was noticing their lack. Even the male finches are still wearing their drab winter plumage, as you can see below.
And I saw my first yellow crocuses at Twin Oaks– I had seen some on the neighbor’s land, but these are the first I’ve seen here, out in front of Nashoba.
After lunch today, I spent a couple hours splitting wood. Here’s the stack of freshly-split wood as I got started, now the piles are even bigger.
A lot of the logs were full of life, assorted bugs and grubs and molds. Splitting this piece was a rude awakening for this colony of ants living within. The other side of the same piece was covered with freshly hatched ant babies; I tried to photograph them, but it came out all blurry.
This one had a pattern that looked like some sort of abstract modern art:
And this piece, a chunk of old, grizzled, half rotten trunk, was filled with impressive mycelium, cottony white fungal flowers.
Freaky yellow, orange, and green molds have colonized the inside of this log, along with the puffy white mycelial mat.
After finishing my wood splitting shift, I had some spare time to walk in the woods, which seemed unusually quiet, still, and oddly lifeless today. There was hardly even any birdsong’ the loudest sound in the forest was the roar of the train whistle, 7 miles to the north in Louisa. Eventually, I found myself wandering through our neighbor’s property, the “Purcell land.” This property was clearcut shortly before I moved to Twin Oaks 12 years ago. These days, it’s a thick forest of young skinny trees, with the occasional large, impressively rotted stump. Not the easiest terrain to navigate, and, quite frankly, there’s not much to see in there.
A couple of the interesting things I found were this bleached out old turtle shell that looked like a dinosaur-era fossil, and this beautifully decomposed stump, which reminded me of some sort of cliff-dweller’s homes, carved into a rock wall. One thing I didn’t find was any evidence that the seasons are turning, or that winter is loosening its dreary grip.