Saturday, March 31, 2012

Moving one grain at a Time

The sand dunes at the Indiana Dunes Lakeshore are constantly on the move. Some days they barely move a grain. Some days every grain of sand seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere sandblasting legs, face, and arms.

This trail sign was waist level to an average sized hiker just 7 years ago. Today the sign is nearly buried in sand.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Forest Path

None of that white stuff---this March has been green, very green.

This path through Coffee Creek Park shows spring well on its way this March.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lover of all things alive...


WHEN the pine tosses its cones
To the song of its waterfall tones,
Who speeds to the woodland walks?
To birds and trees who talks?
Cæsar of his leafy Rome,
There the poet is at home.
He goes to the river-side,
Not hook nor line hath he;
He stands in the meadows wide,
Nor gun nor scythe to see.
Sure some god his eye enchants:
What he knows nobody wants.
In the wood he travels glad,
Without better fortune had,
Melancholy without bad.
Knowledge this man prizes best
Seems fantastic to the rest:
Pondering shadows, colors, clouds,
Grass-buds and caterpillar-shrouds,
Boughs on which the wild bees settle,
Tints that spot the violet’s petal
Why Nature loves the number five,
And why the star-form she repeats:
Lover of all things alive,
Wonderer at all he meets,
Wonderer chiefly at himself,
Who can tell him what he is?
Or how meet in human elf
Coming and past eternities?
Ralph Waldo Emerson/Woodnotes

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bloomin' Early

This morning the sweet, once a year bouquet of lilacs; heavenly!

This year is definitely on overdrive---these lilacs are usually blooming after the first of May.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Earlier Blooms of 2012

Flowers, trees, and bushes are blooming earlier this year. These Dutch Breeches bloomed around April 18th in 2011.

This year they are almost bloomed out by the end of March.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Biggest Flowering Plants

Trees have some of the most beautiful flowers---this one reminds me of a bridal bouquet.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Wind through the Willows

Little rain this year means that all the tree pollen is floating around in the air.

This willow out in the marsh is doing its share and is yellow with pollen. It was buzzing with early season bees.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Smell of Magnolia


They say that, afar in the land of the west,
Where the bright golden sun sinks in glory to rest,
Mid ferns where the hunter ne’er ventured to tread,
A fair lake unruffled and sparkling is spread;
Where, lost in his course, the rapt Indian discovers,
In distance seen dimly, the green Isle of Lovers.

There verdure fades never; immortal in bloom,
Soft waves the magnolia its groves of perfume;
And low bends the branch with rich fruitage depressed,
All glowing like gems in the crowns of the east;
There the bright eye of nature in mild glory hovers;
’T is the land of the sunbeam,—the green Isle of Lovers!


The Green Isle of Lovers---Robert Charles Sands








Thursday, March 22, 2012

Raining Ducks and Geese

The warm weather is steaming up the marsh and it's hard to believe that the geese are not nesting quite yet.

There were no lack of birds. Flocks of ducks and geese rose up to the sky as hundreds still swam in the water below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frog Days---for Now

This super warm weather we are experiencing is creating a haven for frogs this year.

But I wonder how long the haven will last. Water levels are at mid summer levels. We didn't get much snow and the spring has been wonderfully sunny and hot. Pools in the marsh are already drying up even as the frogs are mating and laying eggs.

I fear that this year will be a crash year for the frogs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Closer Look at Moss

Moss is a basic plant that doesn't produce flowers or seeds. Instead, moss produces spores like ferns.

This bunch of moss plants is just that; a bunch of tiny plants all growing close together. And on closer inspection you can see the tiny plants are all individual:



Monday, March 19, 2012

Courting

A mallard couple still in courting stages but soon to be nesting were enjoying a Sunday morning together.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Dance of the Daffodils


I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: --
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
William Wordsworth 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunset

Sunsets have been spectacular this week and along with the better than average weather, have crafted the best time of day to be out of doors.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Goats of Sunset Hill Farm


THE crooked paths go every way
Upon the hill—they wind about
Through the heather in and out
Of the quiet sunniness.
And there the goats, day after day,
 Stray in sunny quietness,
Cropping here and cropping there,
As they pause and turn and pass,
Now a bit of heather spray,
Now a mouthful of the grass.      

In the deeper sunniness,
In the place where nothing stirs,
Quietly in quietness,
In the quiet of the furze,
                                                                                            For a time they come and lie       
                                                                                            Staring on the roving sky...
                                                                                             James Stephens---The Goat Path

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Song

A chorus of Spring Peepers greeted me yesterday during a walk at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. It was the first song of the year of any note.

The frogs are singing to find a sweetheart and are difficult to see before dark but can be heard just about anywhere in this region of Indiana.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That Red Robin Bobbin' along

It's a popular misconception that Robins are a harbinger of spring. The American Robin, in fact, does not generally migrate, but will stick around all winter long. The robin is said to even eat seeds from feeders to supplement its winter diet, although I've never witnessed this.

I have, however, taken pictures all winter long of robins around puddles, on newly defrosted ground, rummaging through snow for bugs and grubs.

But when the little birds start bob, bob, bobbin' along...well that has got to be a sure sign of spring.    

Monday, March 12, 2012

One March to Another

No---this is not today's picture, it's an example of last March. This winter has been exceptionally nice to us and warm. And today's forcast is for 72F--it's already a balmy 56F.

Feeling lucky this year...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Possum

This little guy was out rummaging and trying very hard to ignore me as our paths crossed along the way.

True Turtles


The fieldis ouerflowis  
With gowans that growis,  
Quhair lilies like low is  
As red as the rone.  
The turtle that true is,  
With notes that renewis,  
Her pairty pursuis:  
The nicht is neir gone.


Alexander Montgomerie The Night is Near Gone

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Pond Critters

Just as spring appears on land--so are plants and animals waking up in our ponds, lakes, and streams. This year, a bit early, I found a couple snails moving around already. The snail in the photo is right handed---which is an indicator of water quality. Left-handed snails have gills and require a better water quality than right-handed snails. This sample came from a pond in a wetland.

The other critter in the photo is a diving beetle. This beetle will swim up to the surface every now and then---stick its rear above the water line and grab a bubble of air to carry with it as it hunts below the surface. The beetles are often active all winter long.    

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A True Indiana Safari...

Today, another look at the Sandhill Cranes---just a few of the hundreds. So magnificent!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Quaking of the Marsh

The marsh's quiet wintry wait was over on Sunday as hundreds of Sandhill Cranes moved in for a rest on their migration north.

Instead of the sound of  the wind through the sedges, grass, and cattails, the sounds of the crane's croaking calls and the beat of hundreds of wings brought the marsh to life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Away, Winter, Away!


WORSCHIPPE ye that loveris bene this May,  
For of your blisse the Kalendis are begonne,  
And sing with us, Away, Winter, away!  
Cum, Somer, cum, the suete sesoùn and sonne!  
Awake for schame! that have your hevynnis wonne,        
And amorously lift up your hedis all,  
Thank Lufe that list you to his merci call!


Spring Song of the Birds---King James I of Scotland