Maybe it was those April showers that unleashed the headlong rush into the delights of spring.
Before we knew it, the early hepaticas and spring beauties gave way to toothwort and anemonella and May apples and the emerging shoots of young oaks and maples and Virginia creeper. Thickets of wild plums burst into fragrant bloom along fencerows and in woodland edges.
A few clusters of golden Alexander brightened the emerging prairie reconstruction. A gaudy cock pheasant boldly declared the habitat project a success, while his drab mate hunkered against the gray, dead grass and reserved her judgment.
With a brief window between rainstorms, we finally had a chance to plant some wildlife shrubs: ninebark, hazelnut, dogwood, and wild plum. Let’s hope that moisture gets them off to a good start.
Late April and early May showers normally bring out the mushroom hunters – and (they hope!) the morels. But most morel gurus will admit that the favored fungi need warm temperatures, too. Only the most avid hunters have been able to find many morels during the recent stretch of cooler than normal weather.
Several dead elms have played host to polyporus fungi, however. The book says it may be edible, although it “becomes corky and tough with age.” (I think I’ll pass!)
You never know what you’ll find on a mushroom foray. Friends happened across a barred owl with a broken wing, which hopped up on a fallen log to study the intruders to its woodland home. Sadly, their only practical recourse was to leave the owl in the woods, on the slim chance that it still might be able to pounce on enough mice to stay alive.
Migrating birds are trickling north – but that trickle is soon to become a flood. One of the first to arrive was the towhee, announcing his presence with an emphatic “Drink your tea!”
An early yellow-rumped warbler stopped briefly to explore the garden – and may have been dismayed at the lack of insects. The goldfinch gang – who hung out around the feeders most of the winter – have become much more conspicuous in their summer-yellow garb. Even on a cloudy day, they’re a lemon-lime treat as they forage for spilled sunflower seeds in the greening grass under the feeder.
Deer are frolicking at the edge of the woods – frisky but scruffy. Their once sleek warm winter coats are growing rough as they transition toward the orange-brown they’ll wear through the summer.
In the front yard, the flowering crab is TRYING to flower – but can only muster a few blossoms among the clusters of buds. TOO COLD, and too wet.
But the weather forecasters promise drier weather and moderating temperatures within the week. That should warm the outlook of drizzle-weary humans, perhaps bring a wave of warblers, set the crabapple abuzz with bees – and maybe even encourage a few morels to pop.