Bidding Winter goodbye

Tomorrow is the official first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, in the particular part of the Northern Hemisphere where I live, Winter seems not to have gotten that message.

I’ve gone into Boston for meetings the last couple of days, and the snow is all but gone there. Roofs, roads, and ground are free of snow and ice, save for the occasional fist-sized stubborn lump of ice remaining from what once have been a mighty mound.

Not so in my neck of the woods. Here is my front yard:

This is the mound of snow and ice resulting from shoveling out the top of the driveway. This was this morning. It was 20 degrees out.

It’s true that I have really enjoyed looking at and taking pictures of many of the ice and snow formations.

I have many, many photos of ice and snow. Icicles, frost, falling snow. Snow flakes, snow men, snow caves. Sparkling ice in the morning sun. Smooth frozen puddles with embedded bubbles and cracks. Fluffy untrampled snow, and interesting patterns of tracks in the snow. Quite honestly, I am about ready to move on to another subject matter.

Soon, I hope to fill up my phone with images of green shoots and early blooms. Unfortunately , this is where our first crocuses tend to emerge:

There are many things that I like about Winter. One of them is that it eventually ends and gives way to Spring. So, here’s wishing a fond farewell to Winter. (And here’s hoping that Winter gets the message and departs. Before I have to file a restraining order against it.)

leaves of three (friday foto finder: leaf)

Here is a photo of a rather pretty native plant that is very common in my heavily wooded neighborhood. These shiny leaves show up late spring, often starting out red, and then developing into a lush bright green.

This plant is entirely evil.

In case you don’t recognize it, it is poison ivy: Leaves of three, let it be.

You know what’s even more evil than these leaves of three? The plant when it has no leaves. The vines stretch out over the ground, climb trees and rocks, and grow into bushes. And in the winter and very early spring, the woody stems and vines look pretty much like all the other leafless stems and vines that grow in the woods. But the leafless vines apparently have plenty of urushiol.

This is a photo I took last May on a walk in my neighborhood. This year, the poison ivy leaves are barely starting to bud. Three weeks ago, there probably weren’t any leaves on the stems that Phoebe must have touched while playing outside. She may well have washed her hands well with soap and water before she touched her face and rubbed her eyes, but urushiol doesn’t come off the skin with just soap and water.¹ Even if you use plenty of soap and scrub really hard. It was almost 3 years ago to the day that I learned this fact the hard way. And I really, really wish that we didn’t have to be reminded of this the hard way at this point in our lives.

This week’s friday foto finder is leaf. In general, I love leaves, and have posted plenty of photos of pretty fall leaves. (After all, I do live in New England.) Perhaps my choice of this less friendly leafy subject is somewhat a reflection of my toxic mood. Let’s face it, this has been a really bad month.² One good thing about the month is that it is almost over. With May coming up, I hope to be able to start fresh and turn over a new leaf.

¹ You can use products specifically formulated to work on the oils, such as Tecnu, or liquid dish detergent.
² And by “really bad,” I have a large number of expletives in mind. You can fill in your favorites.

Spring renewal

First of all, thank you for your supportive words and thoughts on my post of a few days ago. Your comments, and the knowledge of your support, meant a lot to me. While the interceding days were far from what I would consider either restful or productive, I am feeling more like myself. I expect that it will take a long time to process the major events of the past few weeks. Perhaps I will have time to process some of my thoughts here, perhaps not.

In the meantime, I will do what I so often do: share a few unrelated photos.

Exactly a month ago, we welcomed the official start of Spring in the the northern hemisphere. However, in my own neck of the woods, Spring was heralded by snow. More snow. The crocuses I had seen beginning to emerge were buried. By the next day, the crocuses began to emerge through the snow. And within a few more days, the ground was (mostly) clear of snow, and the crocuses bloomed.

This photo was taken with my camera. For some reason, it has trouble with the particular hue of purple of the crocuses, and they appear bluer here than in real life. That sounds like a metaphor if ever there was one.

Here is a photo of those same crocuses, taken with my iPhone, looking more purple. (There is something wrong with the structure of that last sentence, but I have a headache, and can’t sort it out. Probably something to do with attachment ambiguity.)

I loved the sharp shadows cast by these little cobalt blue flowers in a neighbor’s yard. I do wish my iPhone had done better with the focus, here. My real camera could have done better with the focus set to manual, but I didn’t have it with me.

We have some very resilient periwinkle in our yard. It was here when we moved in. A few years ago, we had a landscape designer rework our front yard, and her plans included removing the periwinkle. I’m not sure exactly why, but I was happy to let her run with her vision. (I believe she was aiming to use native plants as much as possible, and vinca are not native to the US.) The periwinkle was removed and some new trees and shrubs were planted. Soon enough, though, the periwinkle came back up. But I was not unhappy to see it come back. I realized that I quite like its shiny green evergreen leaves, and its bright little purple flowers.

These are moss spore capsules, which shoot up in the spring, and will disappear soon.

More flowers, cheerful-looking narcissus, from the neighbor’s yard. (I was going to say they were cheerful, rather than cheerful-looking, but I don’t have any insight into their mood. For all I know, they could be quite grumpy.)

So, there you go. Cheery looking flowers.

winter hold-outs

Here are 3 photos of Theo holding out big chunks of icy snow out on our driveway.

2 months ago.

A week ago.

2 days ago.

Seriously, I’m about done with this series. Soon, I hope to have photos of my children holding spring flowers. Or beach toys. Maybe even popsicles.

On the bright (?) side, I got buzzed by a gnat while waiting for the school bus this afternoon. So, spring is in the air…

marginal progress

The temperatures got quite warm yesterday afternoon, thankfully, and much of the snow on our driveway melted. When I checked for the crocuses again today, they were bravely poking up through the snow.

Crocuses at 8:30 a.m. 3 spikes have poked out of the snow. (Actually, there are more spikes off camera.)

As for me, I confess that today I’m feeling snowed under (though it’s not the snow that’s doing it). I ran up against a wall with an experiment I’m designing (which is not actually about running up against walls), and then decided to switch gears and work on a different work project (which is not about gears, or switching them). Only to find that I’d managed not to save the file I’d worked on the last time I worked on the project. And another file for a different project to boot. (There were no boots.) I spent a fair amount of time hunting for the files, before determining that I had to retrace my steps. (Though there was no actual stepping). I spent a fair amount of time swearing at myself. (You can bet that there was actual swearing.)

It did not feel like a productive day.

On the bright side, the crocuses are making some progress.

Crocuses at 5:30 p.m., from a slightly different angle. You can see a 4th purple spike just emerging in the middle of the 3.

Searching for Signs of Spring

Today is the official start of Spring in my part of the world, but you might not realize it by looking out the window. We had a bit of a winter storm yesterday, an icy-slushy-snowy mix that brought messy roads and cancelled schools. Today is bright and sunny, but I hear that more snow is on the way.

A couple of days ago, I saw the first spikes of crocuses poking out of the ground. I was too rushed to get a photo. Here is the stretch of ground where they were a couple of days ago:

No signs of crocus here. But I was happy that my lens managed to capture the rainbow sparkle of the icy snow in the sunlight. (Rainbow Sparkle sounds like a My Little Pony name. Crocus, on the other hand, sounds like a name for a toad.)

It wasn’t was I was looking for, but I will admit that the snow is pretty.

Iced mushrooms on a stump. (Sounds like the name for an unsuccessful recipe.)

Pretty it may be in clumps on pine needles, but “pretty” is not what I was thinking as I was chiseling through the 1-inch crust of frozen slush on my windshield.

The sunlight hitting the drooping rhododendron leaves made for a splash of color.

The most color was to be found in the wintery clothing of my children. (Here’s one splash of color sweeping the snowy footprints with a branch of pine. On my driveway. Yes, that sheet of snow and ice is my driveway. Good times.)

Here, one of my splashes of color cradles a lump of ice. (Additional color provided by the recycling bins. Pick-up delayed one day by the storm.)

So, there we are. Spring? Not so much sprung. I may have to resort to looking at photos of last year’s spring.