Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sights of the Season


It snowed! But that did not keep the witch hazel from blooming. Click to enlarge.

Then it snowed again.

The daffodils carried on, pushing toward spring.

Crocuses are built to withstand it.

Holly actually looks prettier with a shawl of snow and ice.

The snow was beautiful. It's practically all gone.

Yesterday these snowdrops were under a few inches of snow.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Garter Snake Sighting

I saw this garter snake in my yard today. It's the first snake of the 2024 for me. It was in danger of getting stepped on where it was, so I gave it a ride in my hand.

To a less-traveled spot with leaves to blend into and slide under. Click to enlarge.           Cute face!

Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Midpoint of Winter


We just passed the midpoint of winter, February 1, which is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Yay! If we were ancient Celts we would have just celebrated the holiday of Imbolc.

And if we were celebrating Imbolc, we might have checked around to see if any snakes had come out of their burrows to predict the duration of winter weather in accordance with the legend. 

Wait -- we still do that on Groundhog Day, but with groundhogs instead of snakes, right? Turns out that they are equally good at meteorological prognostication. The 2024 groundhog did not see it's shadow. That foretells a smooth path to an early spring. The National Weather Service is predicting the same thing. Let the gardening begin! 

Also, February 2 was Candlemas Day for Christians. The holiday occurs 40 days after Christmas and according to some marks the end of the Christmas season. One of the nice things about Candlemas is that there is a high probability of being able to eat pancakes or tamales.

These winter-blooming snowdrop flowers are also known as Candlemas flowers. They are winter-hardy early bloomers that will push up through snow and frozen ground to appear in time for Candlemas. Mine are always on time. Click to enlarge.

Also note that there are crocuses blooming in my yard right now. Local sunset will be at 5:23 today and 5:24 tomorrow.

So, even though it may have seemed like an uneventful week, it was not.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

First Crocus Flowers!


I found crocuses in my yard yesterday. A beautiful sight! Click to enlarge.

To celebrate, the poem Hocus Pocus by Lilja Rogers: 

 "First, a howling blizzard woke us,

Then the rain came down to soak us,

And now before the eye can focus –

A second cluster! Beginning the days-to-spring countdown now at 51.


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Snow at Last!


A big snow storm happened here in South Jersey this week for the first time in a couple of years. Yay! Click to enlarge.

My street has become a path through the winter kingdom.

The trees have been sugared.

Jack Frost touched all of our lights!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Snowdrops are Blooming


Snowdrops are blooming in my neighborhood again. They are, as usual, the first flowers of the year. Click to enlarge.

It's not easy for a flower to bloom here in January. Snowdrops have strong leaf tips that let them push up through frozen soil and snow. They produce proteins that act like biological antifreeze to keep their sap from freezing.

They usually reproduce asexually from bulbs dividing underground. Too cold for bees? No problem. Although later in snowdrop season I usually do see insects around them.

Snowdrops are also called Candlemas bells for blooming around the time of the Christian feast of Candlemas on February 2nd. This year, again, they are on schedule. We are sure to have more cold weather. But if the snowdrops are here -- can spring be far away?

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Creature of the Year Award 2023


Congratulations to the winner of the 2023 Urban Wildlife Guide Creature of the Year Award, the common buckeye butterfly! This false-eye-flashing beauty was featured in October's "Buckeye Butterflies" blog. Click on this sentence to revisit that blog. Take a bow, tricky butterfly! Click on the photo to enlarge.

In the event that buckeye butterfly is unable to fulfill the duties of creature-of-the-year, the first runner up, juicy delicious New Jersey peaches, will step in. This is the first time in the history of the contest that a fruit has been chosen (or should we say picked?). Click here to visit the peach blog.

In closing, we wish to honor the 2023 passing of Chase T. Cat. She was among the best of tabbies. We miss her.