Monday, March 6, 2017

Let's Go For a Walk. . . Looking for Spring...

We're at our son and daughter-in-law's place at the moment, waiting for them to hand over the childcare torch for a week. Very Active Granddaughter turned Two yesterday, and I suspect we'll return home either much more fit or completely exhausted -- or some combination of the two. But I know we'll have fun!

At any rate, there isn't likely to be much time for blogging, but Papa and Granddad are out on the Daycare Drop-off Run right now and Momma is writing out lists of instructions for The Babysitting Elders in between packing her case, so Nana's taking advantage of the quiet to upload a few photos for you of an outing Pater/Granddad and I went on Saturday morning, just before the snow fell. . . .Again. . .  (and yes, I know all Canadians East of Chilliwack or north of Squamish are rolling their eyes at a Vancouverites' notion of "Snow." All I can say is that we live on the Coast for a reason, and Temperate Climate is it!)

But the guys will be home soon, and there will surely be plans that don't include me blogging, so without further ado. . . The outing on Saturday was to Burnaby Lake, and the purpose was a hunt for Skunk Cabbage. I knew it was probably still early for them to emerge -- I have a post that shows them at their peak, late April a few years ago, with my Mom a year before she died -- but I didn't want to risk missing them in what's promising to be a very busy Spring.   As you can see from the photo above, we found a few just getting started. They're not obviously skunk-pungent yet, but the flower is bright enough to draw attention on its own, especially since there's still not much surrounding foliage.

The paucity of foliage, though, means this is an excellent time for spotting the details that will quickly get obscured as the world greens up.  Curls of bark-paper fallen from a nearby trunk, for example...

Or lichen's intricate shapes, picked out by a winter sun. . .


Moss and dried leaves, dried scales, dried ferns, bare twigs.... all the colours of brown. . .
Branch shadows lashing their way up the mossy surface of a tree. . .

Pussy willows are almost as high on my Late Winter-Early Spring botanical hunt as Skunk Cabbage, so I was grinning as I snapped these. The blue skies and fluffy clouds were a bonus, even if, to the East, we could see darker clouds moving to change the mood...
And I've been grinning even more at the antics of this bright little girl. She's going to be our priority for the week, so I'm not sure how much time I'll find for the Blog, although I hope to pop back in while she's at Day Care. By now, of course, I don't need to tell you that I always find time to read your comments, even if I can't always respond to them right away. . . .

So tell me, did March come in like a Lion or a Lamb where you are? Any skunk cabbage sightings or pussy willows? Or whatever it is that always spells Spring's Coming for you? (Or if you're one of my antipodean readers, a favourite sign of Autumn on its way?)

27 comments:

  1. Believe it or not,I've never seen (or smelled :-)) skunk cabagge or heard about it. Though,we have pussy willows.
    Spring is still very shy,but it is here!
    Beautiful photos!
    Your next week might be very active,but so sweet....!
    Dottoressa

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    1. I'm not surprised you haven't seen skunk cabbage -- although it's been introduced into gardens in some parts of Europe, it's not native there, and it needs pretty specific (boggy) conditions to thrive.

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  2. Not sure if our little island has skunk cabbage. I've just googled and it appears to grow in the uk. Will have to be on the lookout. Love the beautiful greens in all that moss. Will be thinking of you during your busy week. Two year olds are wonderful and exhausting. Enjoy! B xx

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    1. I've seen it growing at brownsea island x

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    2. Note that there are two varieties, both of which may have been introduced to the UK -- and some of those plants have escaped and naturalised.... uh-oh!

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  3. We barely had winter at all in Texas, so many Spring indicators have been out much earlier than usual: daffodils, juniper/mountain cedar, grasses growing & trees blooming, including the crape myrtle just off my puny patio. My friend who grows blueberries is already deep into his gardening season. And the migratory birds that come through here going south in the autumn are already on their way north.

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    1. Your winter was rather shocking, no? Surely there are few Climate Change deniers, save those whose heads are firmly buried in sand....I think it's good for all of us to be paying more attention to the natural world, observing the changes, nurturing the efforts of birds and animals and plants however we can...

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  4. Thank you for taking us on this walk, it is the only one I will get for a while...it is raining right now but temperatures will start to drop tonight...-26 C by Thursday night. Spring showing her less attractive side. Ah well! The days are much longer now, and the sun very warm when it shines.

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    1. I intended to say no walks because of iciness. :)

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    2. I would not be out walking if I lived where you do -- significant hibernation would be my big project. I hope you've got a big stack of good books handy and the makings of many bowls of satisfying soup. Good luck!

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  5. Replies
    1. And I suspect you live where it's fine to cut a few branches to bring home for a vase -- I was so tempted on Saturday, but it's a protected area, and as my mother used to ask "What would happen if everyone did that?"

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  6. Love these photos of the small-scale delights, the world in microcosm. But, like you, I'm tired of the snow/rain/snow/rain (Seattle being much like Vancouver) and am eager for the showier forms of spring.

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    1. Yes! We're in Victoria this week, and there's a cold wind blowing, grey skies, showers. Thank goodness for a fireplace!

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  7. Skunk cabbage is new to me, so I looked it up. It's supposed to be native to the eastern parts of North America. How did it make its way to your locale? I love the Latin name for Skunk Cabbage, symplocarpus foetidus, with foetid being a tip of the hat to its smell. On Wiki it says, "Eastern skunk cabbage is notable for its ability to generate temperatures of up to 15–35 °C (27–63 °F) above air temperature by cyanide resistant cellular respiration in order to melt its way through frozen ground, placing it among a small group of plants exhibiting thermogenesis." I love the heroic miracle of that. Your photographs are beautiful. I haven't been in nature enough recently, because our March has come in, lion-like, with storm after storm, we've had high winds, thunder and lightning, and heavy rains on and off for days. December, January, and February were wet as well. Many of us have forgotten our end-of-drought gratitude, and now just want it to stop. An aside: I appreciate your use of words such as enjambment and antipodean, which are neglected. When interviewed about one of his books at City Arts & Lectures in SF, Michael Chabon spoke at length about the need to use more of the extensive vocabulary available to us in the English language. I believe he was responding to charges of using words no one understands without looking them up. He was not sorry.:)

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    1. Our Western Skunk Cabbage is Lysichiton americanus, and, sadly, doesn't do Thermogenesis. Still, it's got a marvellous skunky odor and a brilliant yellow, sculptural flower, and when the leaves get up, they're thick and fleshy and profuse.
      I feel the same way as you and Michael Chabon about the beauty of precise words, the ability to express nuance. It can be labeled elitism, and we're not going to apologise for that, right? ;-)

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  8. I've not seen Skunk Cabbage around here , too dry perhaps , but have seen huge patches in boggy areas of Scotland . Apparently they are escapees from gardens & considered a major pest . So much so that there are eradication programs taking place in marshland preservation areas because they destroy the delicate native plants . Obviously not a problem in their native land - so enjoy , they are very dramatically beautiful .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Yes, I've read that as well -- see above re the difference between the Eastern variety and our Western Skunk Cabbage -- I think both have posed a problem on your big island. Ah, the things we gardeners get up to. . .

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  9. Pussy willows and skunk cabbage are definitely signs of spring. I'm sure that you will have fun with the little one.

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    1. Not the same as the warmth where you are, but at least the emerging signs show us that Winter is on the way out the door.

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  10. Enjoy your busy Nana time!
    Those wee ones really can fill up our hearts with joy and sunshine.
    XO

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    1. Yes, and I'm so glad yours are bringing you some consolation in your grief. Take care.

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  11. March came in like a lion because I was not in my usual Southern California environment. Sitting in the window seat of my son's second story apartment window, I filmed "Snowing In Seattle". Twice.
    Thankful that the rain washed it away so that I could be on your former island of residence on March 1 & 2. A very productive and fun time. Rich in process and experience!
    Enjoy your little one. We are facing surgery for our four year grandson born with kidney complications. Prayers and good thoughts appreciated.
    Charlene H.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed your painting days on "my old island" -- and also that you enjoyed the excitement of snow. You're really building on last year's adventures, aren't you?
      Sending good thoughts and prayers for your grandson -- we are so vulnerable all over again in our love for these little ones, aren't we?

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    2. You have such a lovely way of "summing up" and responding to our comments, Materfamilias. Like sitting over a cup of coffee and actually chatting face to face. I love these phrases...
      "...enjoyed the excitement of snow"
      "...building on last year's adventures"
      "...vulnerable all over again"
      Perfectly captures and articulates what has been rambling around in my brain and heart.
      Funny...i am currently on another Girlfriend outing in Palm Springs. Perhaps scheduled too close to my return from Seattle and British Columbia. I am just not totally engaged with these wonderful women. Yet your comment/words from across the miles hit the spot. Thank you.
      I will return to a focus on these dear friends (30+ years) and not waste our time together. They have traveled to this warmer climate to get away from Michigan and Oregon. Our time (and our history ttogether is special.
      Thank you, too, for good thoughts and prayers for our grandson.
      Charlene H.

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  12. Autumn and we are desparately longing for a little rain.
    And a little more.
    A lot more.
    But my bulbs can feel the changing season and the leaves are coming thru.

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  13. So astonishing, really, although we now take it for granted, that we can compare the seasons across hemispheres within a day or two -- no postage required, no steamships, not even airplanes. This nearly instant contact between parts of the world moving into spring and those moving toward fall. . . . I wish I could share rain so easily with you ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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