March 10, 2014

A Wisconsin winter walk-off

lone twig

Does this look like spring?

lake

How about this?

No, of course, it does not!

With that said, spring is definitely making an appearance here in my little town of McFarland, near Madison, Wis. On Sunday, I took a walk to join in the "Winter Walk-Off" meme, hosted by Les at A Tidewater Gardener. There were definitely signs of spring, though many of them weren't too pretty.

early spring

birdbath

water

Any time we see water (of the unfrozen variety) outdoors here at this time of year is cause for celebration! There were plenty of water puddles Sunday, and more on Monday, when the temperatures hit 57F (14C)!

But the point of the Winter Walk-Off is to show what I noticed along the way.

waxwings

The first thing I noticed was the huge flock of cedar waxwings in my neighbor's humongous Cottonwood tree! I didn't get a very good photo, but seriously--there must have been at least 100 massing the top branches of that giant tree. At first they were too far away for me to be able to tell what type of bird they were, but their high-pitched whistle gave them away. And then, zooming in with my camera confirmed it. A tripod would have helped, but oh well.

street view

Next, I headed down the street toward the lake. This is a simple view of a park down the street, which looks pleasant just about every time of year.

bench

At the lake, it was perceptibly colder than it was just a couple of blocks inland. But there's always something fun to see at the lake, which is about a five-minute walk from my house.

fishing

Several people ice fishing.

dock

Lots of dock parts, waiting for milder weather.

playground

Huge snow drifts, framing the playgrounds ready for the next season.

pedestrians

Not much chance pedestrians will be walking here for a while.

hockey

An ice hockey rink. I wonder how much longer this will be safe.

tree

And a Christmas tree, firmly frozen several yards from the shore.

Next, I headed for higher ground.

sumac

Sumac seedheads bright in the late winter landscape.

forbs

Dried grasses and forbs adding "winter interest."

road

More snowmelt along this sunny road. The songbirds were very vocal along this stretch!

geese

Geese flying in every imaginable direction.

birds

Flocks of birds hanging out on warm rooftops.

buds2

buds1

buds3

And fluffy buds everwhere, just waiting for the "real" spring to happen.

milkweed

This Milkweed seed pod caught my eye on the way home. I wonder if it froze solid before it had a chance to pop open? Will it have a chance to share its seeds when the warmer weather hits?

For other posts in the Winter Walk-Off meme or to join in, visit Les at A Tidewater Gardener.

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Coming soon: The Garden Lessons Learned wrap-up. Please share a post or your thoughts about lessons you've learned during the past few months. To join in, click here to leave a comment with a link to your post. Thanks!

50 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes, they're always fascinating--especially when they're just about ready to pop open, which should happen in a few weeks!

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  2. Życzę, aby śnieg się stopił, zaświeciło słońce i przyszła wiosna do Ciebie. Pozdrawiam.
    I hope that the snow melted, the sun shone and spring came to you. Yours.

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    1. Thanks, Giga! Snow is melting, and will continue to accumulate and melt--probably through April. But spring is asserting herself. :)

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  3. You've had so much snow this winter. I wonder how long it will take to all melt. You captured some great shots on your walk. I especially like the one with the bench and snow covered lake. I never understood the appeal of ice fishing but at least they know there is a good thick layer of ice to hold them this year. I do like when plants show the promise of spring; despite the harsh winter they carry on!

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    1. Thanks, Karin. I agree re: ice fishing! I'd rather hike and walk, but "to each his/her own"! ;-) Yes, we've had a lot of snow, but not as much as folks in Michigan and Illinois, believe it or not. Actually, it was the subzero cold that really made it tough for us here. So, any day above about 15F feels "warm." Plants that make it through this kind of winter have my respect, for sure!

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  4. I feel for you, I know how we all wait for the spring to come. It has come to UK and I am sending you some sunshine!!!

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    1. Thank you, Aga! We are in that stage of one step forward, two steps back as we progress toward spring. But I'm sure soon the steps forward will take over, and I will be thrilled! Enjoy your beautiful spring weather!

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  5. Loved your photos . . . depicting March 2014 in Wisconsin. Much the same if you journey across the lake to Michigan. Maybe I should just say, DITTO!

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    1. Thanks, Lynne. I know you understand this type of "spring" weather. Probably seems crazy to people in the south that I'm happy about flowing water, but hey, we haven't seen much of that since November (outside anyway). ;-) Cheers, neighbor!

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  6. Take that! You Oregon whiners and complainers! There are always compensations: the promise of the fat buds is even more dramatic against the desolate beauty of your frozen landscape....and you have cedar waxwings!

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    1. Tee hee. Well, I know it's all relative, Ricki. When we have mild winters up here, we still whine. I agree about the buds--love to view them and photograph them. I totally lose track of time. It's like witnessing the Creator's artwork. Love cedar waxwings! I regret that I didn't grab a better camera and a tripod, but maybe next time. Big flocks of cedar waxwings always seem like the first real sign of spring to me. That, and the first blooming Crocuses. But mine are still covered with snow this year.

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  7. Cedar waxwings, icy beauty, seedpods, grasses and an invigorating walk. Spring can wait. But not too long, I hope.

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    1. Believe it or not, this is what a "normal" early spring looks like here. ;-) But I'm sure it was similar for you in Connecticut? After my walk on Sunday, we've had some milder weather and a lot of this snow has melted. Yay!

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  8. The cedar waxwings are beautiful. I have planted some Eastern Red Cedars and will be adding more this spring (hopefully in the next week or two). I hope that the subsequent cones/berries draw in some waxwings in future years...

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    1. They are gorgeous. I regret that I didn't have a better camera and a tripod with me, but oh well. I hope you get some, too. They really are beautiful birds!

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  9. Hi Beth, man, the winter is really long and harsh in your neck of the woods, but I am really happy for you that you where able to discover signs of spring everywhere on your walk, even though some of them might be a little subtle, yet. In ten days we have officially spring, I hope winter in your area realizes this, too, and says its final good bye! Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks, Christina. Yes, this is pretty "normal" for us in early March. I'm just so glad not to have the super cold, arctic weather anymore. January was really tough!

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  10. It sure doesn't look to spring-like there. More like the frozen tundra. But maybe the cedar waxwings know better!

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    1. Yes, and the tundra is still frozen pretty solid! But we're getting some milder weather lately, so things are looking better! I think the birds that survived the winter here are like the people--just happy to see things getting better!

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  11. I really hope spring is on the way for you. It seems like it's been a long winter for all of us. Your photos are very pretty.

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    1. Thanks, Grace! Yes, we've all had a tough winter here in the U.S., that's for sure! Springtime will really be appreciated this year!

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  12. So much snow, we don't see that much snow even in the depths of winter. It makes me very grateful to live somewhere with relatively mild winters. Thanks for sharing your walk, you live in a very beautiful place, just too cold for me!

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    1. Ha! It's too cold for me, too. ;-) Actually, to tell the truth, anything above 20F/-7C feels good to me now! The arctic stuff was really tough this year!

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  13. Wish we had Cedar Waxwings here! At least your snow is melting.

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    1. Every spring I see flocks of them. Even though they apparently overwinter here in this part of the state, they're definitely most active and prevalent in spring. One of those harbingers I look forward to! Warm weather is on the way for both of us, Jason!

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  14. I am WITH YOU! Being here in the Twin Cities, I think we both can attest to having had the worse winter in our life times! We had three days of melting and wouldn't you know that on the fourth night, temps dipped low enough to freeze over the huge puddles that occurred! But warmer temps do return next week. Let's hang in there! And thank you so much for coming to visit. Anita

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    1. Yeah, it's been a tough one, hasn't it Anita?! I used to live north of here, though, and I think it was worse a few winters, believe it or not! A whole lot of the snow shown on this post has melted. Yay! Hope we don't get another big snowstorm--but it sometimes happens throughout March (I know, shhhh.)

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  15. Nice winter walk complete with Cedar Waxwings. No snow melt here, 17 inches more yesterday and 3 inches more scheduled for today. I bet you got more as well.

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    1. Argh! Sorry, Donna! We just got a dusting with the last storm, and I was so happy. Actually a lot of the snow shown on this post has melted. But I'm sure we'll get more. It's nice enough to get outside, though, so I'm happy. :)

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  16. Lovely photos, Beth! I defnitely think you have more snow than we have. We didn't have much accumulation yesterday, thank goodness, but the wind was so strong it sure felt like winter once again. Donna (gardenwalk) wins the snow challenge, though, I think--17 inches!! I'm glad we didn't get that. Love the picture of the trees and the empty bench at the lake!

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    1. Thank you, Rose! Yes, I agree--Donna wins this time! We only got a dusting from the last storm, and a lot of the snow shown here has now melted. High near 50F tomorrow. Yay!

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  17. Your shot of the lake would look wonderful enlarged...you could play around with some textures, give it a nice atmospheric feeling.

    Jen

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    1. Why thank you, Jen! I need to play around with PicMonkey a little more. It sure is a fun program, and you can't beat the price for the basic effects. ;-)

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  18. Perhaps the bleakness is necessary in order to appreciate the emergence of spring.

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    1. Good point! I'm not sure I'd appreciate spring, summer, and fall as much if I didn't experience winter. If only it wasn't so long...

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  19. Lovely walk Beth. I keep meaning to join this but not this year. I will add it to my calendar.

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    1. I really appreciate the opportunity to "walk off" winter. If only the walk would make it disappear for the rest of the season! ;-)

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  20. I love the photo of the trees with the bench underneath! I, too, am eagerly noting the signals of a coming spring. There are even some patches of bare dirt next to the house - woohoo!

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    1. Thanks, Indie. Woohoo is right! Love those bare patches! The better to see all those emerging perennials. Yay!

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  21. Somehow I missed your post, but thank you very much for participating. I must say your winter looks firmly in place, but at least the birds know better. I love cedar waxwings, and I usually hear them before I see them.

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    1. Thanks for hosting, Les! It's a fun meme to join this time of year. A lot of our snow has melted in just one week, but now I hear we'll be getting more. It's not unusual for us this time of year, but hard to take once one get's a taste of "spring fever." ;-)

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  22. What a great walk! You spied quite a few signs of spring too. You sure have had quite a winter so I know when the "real" spring arrives, it will be seriously appreciated. Thank you for all your encouraging comments about my knee injury. My Dr. thinks I sprained my LCL but for the life of me, I don't know how?! It's feeling better but I'm my own worst enemy because I have trouble sitting still so I don't think I'm resting it as much as I should.

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    1. Yes! I'm ready for the real spring. January was the toughest month, but now I just want it to be over! Yikes--I hope rest will heal your knee just fine. That sounds painful! Do rest, Kathleen, so you can get out into the garden when the really nice spring weather happens!

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  23. So much snow! Your Cedar Waxwings must be a hardier sort; the past two winters ours left when we had cold snaps. A hundred all at once,that must have been amazing! We usually see groups of about 2 dozen on our farm.

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    1. I may have been exaggerating about the number of Cedar Waxwings. ;) But I'm certain it was more than two dozen. Now I wish I had counted them! That Cottonwood tree where they were roosting is huge. If I ever see a group like that again, I will count them (and grab a tripod for a better zoomed shot).

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  24. Wisconsin reminds me of Maine. I have some family in Madison. You've found the beauty in winter. I love that photo of the bench especially. You are lucky to have such a nice place to walk.

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    1. It is a great place to walk! There are so many wonderful places to hike around here--and many of them right outside my door. I've never been to Maine, but I get the impression it has a lot in common with Wisconsin--particularly northern Wisconsin, where I grew up.

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  25. So you are on Lake Michigan? I don't think you mentioned what THE lake was. My guess -- your town is on a bay off the lake? Nice scenes in winter -- looks slow and peaceful. (And, probably more beautiful in summer with water.)

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    1. Thanks for visiting! No, I live near Madison and the lake is Lake Waubesa. It's one of the five large lakes that form a chain through the middle of Dane County. The lakes are beautiful during all the seasons, but I personally appreciate them more during the summer. ;-)

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