I saw this on our trail today and knew what it was, thanks to the lichen workshop I went to in Middletown a couple of weeks ago! It’s rock tripe, and George Washington used it to help his starving troops survive the winter at Valley Forge in 1777. (It’s not all nice and green and moist like this in the winter-time, though.) You can see the cool texture of the underside in a couple of spots where it’s flipped up. The front feels like seaweed, and the back is black and almost suede-like.
Photos from my walk on the rain-saturated trail this afternoon. The lichen and moss were especially beautiful contrasting with the wet-darkened trees and rocks. There are so many ferns out now. Everything is insanely green and lush! It felt magical.
I’m walking on our trail, and I just saw TWO bunnies at the same time! They might live in the brush pile? It rained all morning, so things are super drippy, and the atmosphere is really neat. All the colors are extra saturated and it feels sort of mysterious because all the branches are weighed down and close, so when you go into the woods it’s like entering a secret world.
Absolutely lovely weekend. We saw a lady’s slipper growing in the woods while walking on our trail on Saturday! I was so excited when I spotted it! It’s past the fork, while walking up the hill, across from the pile of stones. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I found it again today, plus four more in the little strip of woods between our yard and the neighbors’. That’s the area where I’ve seen them before, but in previous years there were only two, total. They’re multiplying! Here are ALLL five.
Last year I saw the lady’s slippers on May 21st, so they are actually right on time, unlike the rest of spring.
We also saw a Baltimore Oriole for the first time ever, while cleaning up fallen sticks in the front yard. It was gorgeous! So orange. And we had a campfire on the patio Saturday night. First of the season. Love LOVE. The weather for the whole weekend was so perfect, and it was so nice spending time together, just enjoying nature and spring. It was the best!
I spent a lot of time spying on turkeys in our yard this afternoon. First there was a gang of five, who stuck around forever. Then later, a single female came back and feasted on safflower seed that the messy smaller birds flung down onto the ground while eating. She was just pecking around with the squirrels and other birds, a fellow bird.
The gang of five was really interesting. Initially, they were up in the woods alongside the trail, and two of them were doing a big tail fan display side by side while the others quietly preened themselves and didn’t watch. (Or pretended not to watch, at least.) It went on for about 8 minutes before the smaller one gave in and quit. The largest one was obviously a male, with a bright blue face and a huge red wattle, but I wasn’t sure about the second one. At first I thought it was the “head wife” in the harem, but then I looked up turkey mating behavior and read that “team courtship” is a thing males do sometimes because males that court in pairs father more eggs. Usually the second male is a close relative. So now I think the smaller/subordinate/less masculine-looking one was a brother or son.
The lead gobbler kept fanning nonstop for at least 40 minutes, while the others just hung out and eventually looked like they were taking naps. Then finally they decided to come down to the bird feeder area, so I got to see them up much closer and without vegetation blocking my view. They were around for over an hour in total, and the head turkey was fanning most of the time. None of them made any audible noise, though. They were fascinating!
This afternoon. Tender new moss growth is so green. I lay on the big lichen-y boulder for a while, looking up into the trees and talking to a chickadee.
Moss. So much moss. And lichen. Textures and patterns and colors, covering rocks, climbing trees, wrapping around sticks. Up at the ridge: dripping, and foam, and sodden moss, and dead leaves faded pale, collaged together in zillions of overlapped shapes, layered thick, quiet, soft, flat.
I can barely think or move; I’m bordering-on-lightheaded with that deep, satisfying exhaustion of being in nature and doing until you can’t anymore, then sitting still, centered, feeling it all sinking in. It’s a little chilly, a little breezy, steely gray and almost-rainy, but it was good.
I walked around the whole yard and climbed the whole trail and hack-pruned the big hydrangea and hack-pruned the butterfly bushes and dragged it all away. They are monsters, those butterfly bushes. It was a battle. I hack them to stubs every year and then they shoot out five feet of new growth over the course of one summer, and smell like wine and swarm with butterflies.
So many things are showing Signs now. Not pretty signs, yet, but just tiny bits of green appearing where a week or two ago it looked dead and brown. The perennials, the grass, little eager flowering weeds. They are subtle bits of green, and you have to look. But some of the Succulent Hill action is visible from my window, now! Little lumps of color sticking out of the weathered mulch. I looked up close at the individual plants with binoculars before I went out, because I am silly that way. They are glistening with captured raindrops, although the binoculars don’t show that detail.
And the moss. Moss, moss, moss. Is this wet, drippy, soggy time the moss’ favorite part of the year? I wish I could identify the mosses and lichens, but I can’t. I don’t know their names, or even how many types there are. So many. But I can still admire them. I probably need food now but I don’t know if I can move anything but my fingers. I know this isn’t coherent but neither is my brain.
Sounds on my freezing-cold walk on our trail this sunny afternoon: dripping, wind chimes, doves cooing, dove wings fluttering, birds twittering, grackles’ squeaky-swing voices, leaves rustling. My fingers felt like they were going to drop off, and my eyes were watering like mad from the wind. I think it’s about 29°. The snow on the patio is still frozen so hard that I can stand on top without sinking in. But the moss seems so happy, and when I looked closely in the succulent bed, there were tiny tiny signs of new growth everywhere!
:-) After it fell on the ground because the hanging part on top had disintegrated too much, I worked a little hole into the bottom of this felted wool bird house last year, and stuck it on the top of a little broken-off tree. Now it’s slid down to the bottom, with some new matching nature-made holes nearby! (Notice that one of the missing wool leaves is on top of the log.)
Here’s how the melt looks, as of today. I kind of don’t want the snow to go, though, because then it’ll be all brown. But tiny bits of color will start appearing soon?
The melting ice formation on the ridge is all white and weird and crystal-y textured, with lots of free-standing stalagmite-y bits. Here’s how it looked a month ago.
More photos from my tromp outside this afternoon: lots of DRIPS up on the mossy glacial ridge! I love how this granite schist has all those little red pieces of garnet in it.
I went on a big tromp outside to update my approach of spring observations! This weekend, nature is working on MELTING. Some of the snow is still hard enough to walk on top of, but most of it has the granular texture of shave ice, and there are lots of patches of bare earth in front of the house, on Succulent Hill, over big rocks, and around the bases of trees. I love that trees give off enough heat to melt snow. ♥
More photos soon!