Spring, Spring-a-Linga

Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) on snow-downed oak branchScouting in the woods, we get a little rush seeing what looks like cultivation under second-growth Douglas firs. This is one of the first signs that days are getting longer: Squirrels scrabble in the soil for fragrant truffles that fruit close underground. And I breathe a soft “thank you” to licorice ferns, which grow gloriously before, during and beyond the winter, as well as to seasonally-changing but year-around companions, like this beautiful “Methuselah’s beard,” Usnea longissima, festooned on young maple trees.

Down by the pond, a long willow branch grows horizontally, bent low near the water’s surface by the heavy snow that fell last March. Here it invites local bobcats to perch and claw its bark. Side-shoots sprouting upright from the scratching bar flaunt fuzzy silver buds.

Pussy willows ushering in SpringOn the edges of the woods, osoberry flower stems unfurl farther each day and soon will hang down in clusters of creamy bells. Scattered through the woods, catkins of native filberts stretch, a good month behind their European cousins, but no less welcome.

As their pollen prepares to fly, look for tiny ruby-red female flowers, yearning to receive those fertile goodies. I spotted my first of the season February 24. Tantalizing leaf buds swell on flowering currants. In just a few weeks, dangling vermillion flowers will seduce returning Rufous Hummingbirds to their nectaries.


Filbert catkins awaiting the ladiesThe groundhog notwithstanding, everywhere I look, signs of Spring make my heart sing, sing-a ling-a. If you feel bored or blue, or weary of days short, dark or wet, Dr. Evelyn’s prescription is to head outside with pen, paintbrush or camera and celebrate the arrival of swelling, growing, twitching, flowing omnipresent life.



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