Saturday, March 17, 2012

Springtime at Winterberry Farm

A black ant crawls across the sunny bathroom floor, the first house ant of the year. I'm at Winterberry Farm in western Massachusetts this weekend visiting my parents, where spring is just a bit ahead compared to southeast New Hampshire. The ants have not yet emerged at our house.

On my walkabout around the yard and down into the back forty this afternoon there was plenty to notice, although you had to look close at times.  Last fall my dad and I cleared the woodland trail--it was littered with fallen limbs from the Halloween storm. This trail leads past a small hillside seep that is the first place to see skunk cabbage in March. The newly emerged leaves, known as the hood or the spathe, appear like tiny woodland sculptures, each one unique in shape and color pattern.

Spicebush shrubs dot the woodland near the skunk cabbage seep. The tiny flower buds, look like small round, yellow buttons along the stem. I break a twig and smell deeply of the spice.
Further along in my walk, along the wooded stream that drains down to the swamp, I find alders and red maples flowering. And a swamp sparrow sits quietly in a silky dogwood at the edge of the cattails, fluffing its feathers in the warm sun.
Up at the house the 90 tulips--planted by my brother last fall in celebration of mom's 90th--are a good four inches tall. Likewise the fall-planted garlic is four inches above the straw. And then there is the first crocus, so beautiful in the afternoon sun.

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