Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Despite the smallest day count, February is the longest month of the year for me. Each season here offers a variety of outdoor activities but I have by now grown weary of white numb hands and the threat of being stranded by snowfall. The sideways slide of the car while rounding a sharp curve is a thrill but enough already. The past two days have been warm and clear. Outside is the place to be.
The first picture requires explanation. Standing on the flat meadow, the incline of the bedrock ridge can be seen in the background. The edge of the snow cover in the center of the picture marks the path of water flowing toward lower ground. One more forward step will place me in water deep enough to cover my boots. Even older boys are drawn to water and I am no exception. There is a valid reason for me to be walking around here.
Here is a closer view of the narrow spot in the stream. Despite the existence of water everywhere, my socks remain dry. Some combination of water running under the snow pack cut this channel and formed the ice.
There are no traces of water running down the hill in this area. Occasional springs bring this water to the surface. Close inspection will reveal current marks as the water moves toward the surface on either side of the broken stones that may have been placed by the farmer's children to make a pool. As soon as it gets warmer, there is a better than average chance that this older boy will work to expand this pool. The ice to the right and the visible wire cage mark the location of his Cardinal Flower plants.
Shaded by the trees on the ridge, these light green leaves are just now seeing daylight. Snow cover has been continuous here and the newly formed ice does not appear to have harmed the actively growing plants. Snow is forecast for tomorrow night so these plants may be covered by a new insulating blanket before the deep freeze returns. We remain hopeful that these plants will survive the wild temperature swings of the next two months. The presence of ground water improves the chances that seeds dropped here last summer will grow. We want this rare native plant to find a wild home here. We are excited with the results so far. This is definitely the sturdiest, happiest looking February Cardinal flower we have ever seen!