Woodland harbingers

The sun was shining and it felt warm like spring yesterday so I went looking for wildflowers. That was a total waste of time! The white-throated sparrows and I were digging through the leaf litter, both of us searching for some morsel to sustain us through the last weeks of winter.

I found the skunk cabbage coming to life in the wettest places alongside the brook, yet wouldn’t consider eating anything that looks like this, despite someone’s suggestion that it’s edible. Yesterday’s walk wasn’t so much about finding any true signs of spring, but about taking the time to be out and looking.

I’m guessing this might be the very beginnings of spring beauties, but no matter, that green is just gorgeous! The space for some quiet time alone in the woods yesterday and the chance to slow down and put some thought back into the rhythm of my life was worth the couple hours *wasted* looking for flowers that won’t be ready to bloom for a few weeks still.

Gill-over-the-ground had the earliest start of all and was spreading its heart-shaped carpet wherever a bit of sun encouraged it. A weed, yes, but it beats a seeing only a layer of ice and snow.

I had to really dig to find these and can’t imagine what they are, but last spring virginia bluebells and trout lilies grew in this same spot. It’s nice to have that knowledge of a place now, to see these tender shoots and imagine what they might become with enough warmth and sunlight.

The knees of my jeans were wet and muddy by the time I’d had enough rooting around in the leaves, but I’ve learned that’s part of the fun of spring too; having your hands in the earth and getting dirty again.

I’d imagine that we all have different spring milestones we look for that are dependent upon where we live. Maybe it’s the first crocus, or the first skeins of geese overhead in the night, or the appearance of buckets on a row of sugar maples.

I haven’t found mine yet.

What have you been looking for? Have you found it?

14 thoughts on “Woodland harbingers”

  1. Well, it’s not much, but I noticed my first turkey vulture here in eastern Massachusetts today. I think just about every day will be offering new signs of Spring now, if we only take the time to look the way you do.

  2. I just came across you blog and have enjoyed reading through it. You take beautiful pictures. I have watched birds since I was about 13 (I am now 32) and have never kept a list, until now. Last fall I finally started so every bird I see is a BIG deal – I am waiting to list my first Robin! I just started my first blog ever to help me journal my birding – your site has inspired me – very nice!

  3. Well, Scarlet our RT acting like she wants to kill us all….that’s a sure sign of Spring.
    But a nicer one is walking outside in the morning and hearing, all at once: Song sparrows, cardinals, red-shouldered hawks…all calling out to potential mates. It’s quite a change from the deafening silence of Winter.

  4. The image of you rooting around looking for little green things poking their heads out of the earth… makes me smile.

  5. Laura, I also had muddy knees today after a spring rain and looking for green. It seems we are seeing the same signs, although we’re a little ahead of you.

    It’s worth the walks and searching.

  6. Oh Laura–I can’t wait to talk a walk this weekend and look for little buds and shoots! I love knowing grown-ups who don’t mind getting all muddy and playing in the dirt.

    We now have red-winged blackbirds and grackles, and I saw two TuVus yesterday. It’s coming!

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