Monday, March 07, 2011

Sharing Stories About Our Woodlands

Monday, March 7, 2011

Almost 7:30 here on the mountain and things have finally quieted down for the day. The temperature is still dropping--it's 14.5° now, and it's expected to drop below zero a bit before it comes back around tomorrow morning. The snow has pretty much stopped although you could still be confused at the 7 mph wind tossing horizontal waves at anything that gets in the way. I noticed that an hour ago as I took Karl the Wonder Dog out just in the middle of the evening news. He has very poor timing....or perhaps prefers to avoid "bad news".

Snowfall around the state varied today from "not much" (trace to 3" in Springfield) to 30" in the shadows of Mt Mansfield and the Sterling Range from Stowe past Jericho-Underhill. If you live around here you are tired of hearing that kind of news but for folks from afar where spring is on their minds, this snow is a surprise. Tonight just before dinner the phone rang and it was a caller from Orange County, California. He had seen the article about daylilies in Fine Gardening Magazine and noticed our name mentioned as a daylily vendor. He was thinking spring in his zone 9 gardens but was surprised when Gail updated the weather info for Monday in Vermont. That reaction is not uncommon this time of year and I know we lose some sales when people are impatient to plant and we can't give a better shipping estimate than "mid-May"

This time of year I enjoy the quiet even if it comes packaged with snow plowing or shoveling or even getting up on the roof. I can take things slowly and I can catch up on my reading. One of my favorite Vermont magazines is Northern Woodlands. It arrives quarterly with a tag line I like: "A New Way of Looking at the Forest". I think I picked up my very first copy at the little Mom and Pop store in Cabot village in the early 90's. As I think back, I don't even know if there was a real "mom and a pop" back then but then the store sold and there wasn't a mom or a pop and then it sold again and there was and continues to be. Those little stores are like forests, they change over time and some of them do not return to a picture we'd like to remember.

Anyway, this is a fine magazine and no matter where you live, it's something you might consider subscribing to. If you have a son or daughter or grand kids taking any aspect of environmental science in college, this is a useful gift that will put them a step ahead of others.

N0rthern Woodlands has a feature I really enjoy and I refer to often. It's called A Look At The Seasons MAIN EVENTS by Virginia Barlow. It comes three months at a time and fours weeks per month. For each week of each month the author presents a summary of events of the forests, swamps, fields, waterways. I find it very accurate and I enjoy the reminder it serves to me. It looks like this.

For the first week in March, now almost history:

"Brown creepers have started to sing their endearing song. Some of them have been here all winter, but others have come from wintering grounds farther south. We can see creepers all year, but individuals come and go/ Warm days bring snow fleas to the surface. At first they look like flecks of pepper on the snow, except that they appear and disappear/ Barred owls are nesting in old hawks' nests or tree cavities. Incubation is mostly done by the female."

When I read the notes, I reflect on what I have recently seen or heard or sensed. I like Northern Woodlands. I'll bet you would too!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a sliver of moon may show by midnight as the balance of storm clouds pass. Hungry critters of the woods and pastures will begin moving soon after more than 24 hours of storm. Still too early to start seeds here.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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PS: Bird on magazine cover is a Nashville Warbler photographed in Brunswick, Vermont by Roger Irwin. Regrettably for me I have never seen this beautiful bird or met the skilled photographer. Anyone seen this bird?

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