Monday, March 30, 2020

Early Spring Walk

"It was not summer yet, but spring; and it was not gentle spring ethereally mild, as in Thomson's Seasons, but nipping spring with an easterly wind, as in Johnson's, Jackson's, Dickson's, Smith's, and Jones's Seasons." 
                                                                                                                       ~Charles Dickens

I was just reading a rather humorous article from a few years back about "the horror that is spring in northern Maine". Before we get to the flowers, we have to go through weeks of slush, ice, mud, and often flooding. Thankfully we don't have nearly as much snow this year as we've had the last few so I'm hoping it will be a little easier. But despite the mess, early spring in Maine is still a joyous time. The birds have started singing already (some were singing as early as February despite morning temps as low as -37 F!) and now the robins are back. The days are long and the sun is warm enough to melt some snow even when it's well below freezing. 

And already there are signs of new life!

Tracks are abundant. We have been hearing coyotes almost every night lately and I see their tracks in the field behind our property and in the woods. They look like they belong to some pretty big dogs! I also found these tracks, which I believe to be lynx. They aren't distinct due to the melting, but they are big and yet not heavy enough to sink very deep into the snow. 

Size comparison with my glove!

The woods are calling!

I'm fond of this little grove of Quaking Aspens. We have a couple of smaller trees on our property as well and I still remember one night last summer when there was no noticeable breeze, and suddenly the leaves on those trees started rustling. It was beautiful! 

Another happy surprise was this little patch of bare ground at the edge of the woods! Only those who haven't seen bare ground for 6 months can fully understand my excitement! 😁 In early spring, even when the weather is so nice that I want to spend the entire day out of doors, I get to feeling like the dove in Noah's ark who "found no rest for the sole of her foot"! The snow is still quite deep as you can see from the other pictures, and the woods were the last place I would have looked for this! The next nice day we get, I plan to take a book out here and read for a while! 😊

Sometimes a walk in late fall or early spring reveals things that were missed among the thick vegetation of summer. As I sat and enjoyed my little patch of earth, I suddenly noticed a vine clambering through some speckled alders just in front of me. The fluffy seed heads looked mighty familiar and I soon got up excitedly to have a closer look!

Just as I suspected, it turned out to be a wild clematis! Most likely Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis, and also known by the pretty name of Purple Virgin's Bower. It is a native of eastern North America but somewhat scarce. I only saw it in this one spot and no wonder that I missed it last year as this area is nearly impassible in summer! I will be watching it closely this year though you may be sure! 😊

I hope you all are enjoying Spring too! Many of you probably have flowers already...I'm hoping to see the first crocuses in my garden in a few weeks! 😊


  1. Yes, I well know the excitement of a bare patch of ground as the snow starts to melt! We naturally crave grounding!
    I wish I could blow a warm wind your way. :) Last week's 7" of snow is nearly all gone now and we're starting to see the small bulbs pushing forth. The lawn is dotted with crocus, which self-sow and come up randomly, like little surprises! I find myself watching every footfall to make sure I don't inadvertently crush an emerging shoot.
    Wishing you a warm and wonderful week!

    1. Sounds so nice! :) I can't complain about our weather as it's about as nice as we can expect up here this early. We don't have nearly as much snow and we're getting a slow but steady melt so it shouldn't be too much longer till I get to see my gardens again!

  2. Dear Joanna, What a wonderful post! It got me looking into where Northern Maine was situated, and was surprised that it is further south that me, 46 N compared to 51 N. How seasons can be so different due to geographic influences continental vs martime. I looked up to see what a Bobcat looked like: so beautiful, I wonder whether you have had the privilege of seeing one? Your description of your feelings and excitement regarding the forthcoming thaw were electric. As to the comparison between your lovely blue Purple Virgin's Bower and our Old Man's Beard...just the names made me smile. Are you going to try to grow some from the seeds? If you I do hope you are successful. Many thanks for sharing...
    I believe this entry with photographs ought to grace the pages of a city Magazine....If you have not already done so, please do try to contact some editors.

    1. I know! I was quite shocked too when I realized how much farther north much of Europe is compared to us! We really aren't that far north at all!
      I actually did see 2 lynx several years ago. (Lynx and bobcat are slightly different animals but do look very similar). They weren't afraid of me at all and wandered into the fenced field where I run with my dogs, so I followed them around taking pictures! :D
      I am thinking about attempting to grow the wild clematis from seed...I read that it is difficult to germinate but might be worth a try!
      Thank you so much for your kind comments! :) I'm not a very good writer so I was glad the spirit I was trying to convey came through to you. I hope you and your family are doing well! <3

  3. I thought that was a clematis! That really is a ton of snow, but I love seeing these little glimpses of spring-to-come in your photos. Hope you are all staying well!

    1. Clematis sure has a unique appearance doesn't it? We actually don't have nearly as much snow as we had the last 2 years. I'll be glad when it's all gone. :)

  4. Wild clematis will become a pain. It spreads everywhere. I would just enjoy it in the woods. I picked some seed heads, dried them, then sprayed with hair spray and hung among a dried arrangement. I have to cut them out of my fenceline every year
    They get into my cedar trees also. A lot of work.

  5. Oops forgot to say my name Veleria