March 13, 2011

Fuzzy trees and other signs of spring

My parents called me delusional the other day when I said I had noticed swollen buds on the deciduous trees. Delusional might not have been the exact word, and it was a good-natured jest, but they didn’t see what I was seeing. They were comparing the view to points south, having just traveled back from an extended stay in Florida.

I, on the other hand, have been firmly planted in the Midwest since last summer. I’ve seen the slow, but sure, changes in the trees. This time of year, they start to look “fuzzy” just before the buds break. Tell me these trees don’t look fuzzy:

OK, so if you already have foliage on your deciduous trees, you’re probably agreeing with my parents that I’m delusional. But for those of us stuck in the north all winter, the change is perceptible and it’s exciting!

Hanni at Sweet Bean Gardening is hosting a meme with the theme "Hope Grows Day." Please visit her blog for the details. The idea of the meme is that we photograph what we're seeing now and what we're looking forward to a month from now. I’m looking forward to deciduous foliage! By this time next month, most trees here will have leaves.

Another meme, "Winter Walk Off," hosted by A Tidewater Gardener, asks us to take a walk and document our experience. This weekend I took two walks.

The first was a quick trip to the McFarland School Forest. It’s a wonderful resource in our community used for educational purposes. Students, actually anyone, can hike the trail and study plants and animals in a natural setting. The students also learn about invasive species and actions they can take to preserve the natives and destroy the invasives.

I visited the school forest in the late afternoon, so the oblique light accentuated the bright colors of Red Twig Dogwood and Black Raspberry canes.

Students of all ages learn about Native American culture by studying the structure of a wigwam.

And markers along the trail identify native plants. I was thrilled to see that some native Ferns are emerging.

My second walk covered approximately two miles—from my house to Lake Waubesa and along a wooded trail. The hubby accompanied me, so it was fun to look for signs of spring together. We headed down the street toward the lake.

Along the way, we passed this impressive Weeping Willow, which looks just about ready to burst with foliage (apologies for the electrical box and the power lines as this was the best angle I could get without spending too much time on this shot).

Here's the view of the lake from the entrance to the park.

Believe it or not, ice fishermen are still out on the lake and catching Bluegills and other fish. It takes quite a while for the ice to fully melt, since the lake freezes to a thickness of about two feet. We're sure the Bluegill in the second picture will provide a nice meal for one of the local Hawks or Owls.

The ice along the shore is breaking up—it's fun to see the strange formations.

Next, we were off into the woods. It's a good thing I had my hiking boots on because it was a muddy trek. More fuzzy trees surrounded us, and we came across a running creek. A lovely old maple hung over it at one point, and we couldn't figure out what was making a persistent dripping sound into the water. We figured out it was sap dripping from the tree. It's Maple tapping time!

The hubby found this amazing Mushroom growing under the snow. This is exactly how we found it, from two angles.

We reluctantly headed back home after a thoroughly refreshing walk. Some of the sweetest sights awaited us on the return trip—Robins and Cedar Waxwings!


I think it's going to be an early spring!

(Note: My heart goes out to friends in Japan, dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Fortunately, our Blotanical friend, Fer, of My Little Garden in Japan is safe. Thoughts and prayers are with survivors who are trying to recover from this terrible tragedy.)


  1. lovely walk to see the lovely trees

  2. Oh yes, those trees are most definitely fuzzy. :) I enjoyed your walk, too! The red-twigged dogwoods are so nice and bright.

  3. We are pretty much in the same situation, waiting for the Spring to take hold. I was out on my daily 4 mile walk, just returned and found a number of the Spring birds are returning, always a sign of hope that the weather will warm - soon I hope. The "fuzzy" buds haven't appeared yet, but I am looking for them. And I agree we are not crazy for looking! Jack

  4. Thank you for taking part in the Winter Walk Off. I know what you mean about fuzzy trees. Every year I look forward to the local Red Maples (Acer rubrum) getting their fuzz on, it's my first sign of spring. You should show your parents the picture of the weeping willow, it certainly looks fuzzy to me. Thanks again.

  5. @Donna: I'm loving the mild temps. I'm guessing you're getting them now, too?

    @Hanni: Thanks for hosting the "Hope Grows Day" meme!

    @Jack: Glad to hear I'm not the only one who enjoys the fuzzy trees. Hope the warm weather comes for you soon!

    @Les: Thanks for hosting the Winter Walk Off. What a great idea! It will be fun to see the before and after photos in April!

  6. You're not delusional at at all! I've noticed buds on the trees and some of the flowering shrubs here as well. Such a welcome sight after a long winter. Enjoyed your walk as well--what a neat resource the School Forest is.

  7. There's definite fuzziness on them there trees - not delusional at all. I love the idea of that School Forest walk, but the lake walk was wonderful, thank you for sharing it. The ice shapes are amazing, and the crispness of your photographs made me feel as if I was there with you.

  8. I agree about the trees. It's almost like all your senses can feel them getting ready to burst. And then at the beginning there is this lovely pale green haze before a leaf even appears.

  9. @Rose: It's so interesting how people have different perceptions based on where they're coming from. Yes, the school forest is pretty nifty.

    @Janet: Thanks! We've walked to that park by the lake many times, but never taken the trail into the woods. I think we'll be going back to explore it more soon.

    @Carolyn: So true! And the Maples seem to have a rose-shaded haze. It's like a hint at the color of their leaves in the summer and the fall combined. I think we're so closed up during the winter, and then when spring starts to appear our senses are so attuned to the change. It's so pleasant!

  10. I enjoyed the walk. I wonder if I could get hikers to pull out garlic mustard at my place? Just so you know, Ed planted the dahlias in pots indoors. They will go out on nice days, come back in at night, and be planted out after danger of frost is past. It's an effort but does give us a much longer bloom time to do this.

  11. I love that big gnarly tree. Thanks for taking us along on your walk. I enjoyed it.

  12. @Becky: Ah, that explains the Dahlias. I've never tried planting them, but so many friends recommend them, I'll have to try them one of these years. I'm sure students would be happy to help you weed out the garlic mustard. Maybe you could host a school field trip to your property?

  13. Layanee: Yes, I agree. Isn't that Maple tree a wonderful specimen? It seems like a character from a movie, like the ones in the Wizard of Oz.

  14. Beth I enjoyed your walks, you live in a very beautiful place, love the forest and trails it's nice for things to be labeled so you can learn what they are, I often see wild plants with no idea what they are, Frances

  15. Frances: Thank you. I'm happy that you enjoyed the walk! It was such a great idea for a meme. I thoroughly enjoyed both the walk and being a part of the meme!