Saturday, February 7, 2015

From my journal of 7 February

It is due to snow again today, and has already started.  We're looking forward to a little snow today, a little more tomorrow, and a moderate amount the next day--the sort of accumulation that we always take in stride--unless we've just come out of two prior snow storms.  

The snow presents a great opportunity to keep track of wild animals--literally.  It was dog-like tracks in the snow that first alerted me that our yard (and compost pile) were part of a coyote's regular rounds last winter.  It was dainty, hooved tracks that showed that five deer had crossed the yard a couple of weeks ago.  

Today a new lesson, from my journal.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Adventured in the back yard late this morning.  Only visible trail (with last snowfall a couple of inches on Thurs) is hopping tracks from tree to tree to tree (and not around the tree).*  Shallow bird tracks and the like may have been covered, but coyote or deer should, I think, still be visible.  Or maybe not.  My ski trail after the first storm is almost invisible.  Slow going in my boots, and I only went as far as the edge of the woods.

Spotting a winged fruit lying on the surface of the snow made me realize how snow makes visible all the little small stuff that is probably falling all the time, but is usually lost in the general drift that is always beneath our feet.  Most of what I could see was tiny shreds of bark and fragments of leaves, but there was also a body feather and a little fibrous something—maybe a little plant?

The fruit immediately put me in mind of the big white ash only a few yards away—which I’d waited in vain to see drop seeds in the fall.  But a little time with Harlow’s Fruit Key turned up Norway pruce as likely, while a few minutes on the Web showed it was likely not white pine, which occurs a little farther off.  (I didn’t spot any white pine seeds last fall, either.  Several neighbors have Norway spruces, which birds like to shelter in against winter wind and snow.  That’s one point in favor of this alien invasive.

Since it’s neither ash nor white pine, I likely won’t plant it, as was my first thought upon seeing it lying on the snow.

 Tracks are easier to see than photograph.  My stick is there partly for scale, 
and partly to give the autofocus something to focus on.

 You can just make out dark specks that show fallen stuff.

 Picea abies seed jumped out at me; it would have been invisible without the snow.

*Therefore gray squirrel.

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