Pussy willows in bud. March 15, 2020. Photo: Judy Isacoff

NATURE’S TURN: Open water, open earth, open doors

Radiating through windows and walls, the new season pulls at my sedentary form and unchallenged senses.

March 23 – April 5, 2020

Mount Washington — Springtime’s sunlit atmosphere fills the heavenly blue dome that surrounds us and expands into our indoor spaces. Radiating through windows and walls, the new season pulls at my sedentary form and unchallenged senses. I step out to be enveloped by the brilliant light. In this moment when winter turns to spring, I turn onto a lane that leads to pussy willow shrubs (Salix discolor). The landscape is dormant except for the willow’s display of opened, plump, silver-furred buds, suggestive of cat’s feet.

From the willows, the path takes me to a pond, the first open water at this high country location. Azure sky meets a rim of wintry woodland with tawny meadow below. The meadow encircles an expanse of indigo water that twinkles and sparkles; waves ignited by sunlight’s touch. Mallards and Canada geese paddle, their wakes graceful drawings on the surface of patches of flat water.

Following the singing stream that flows out of the pond, I head downhill through forest, then circle uphill. Wild lands take my body through invigorating responses to terrain. I arrive on a grassy knoll at the opposite edge of the pond. The geese and ducks have made their way here, too. I raise my camera to capture the color, light and movement. As I lower the camera, the back of a thickly furred, russet animal is bolting from the pond’s edge at the base of the hill. I search for a long, cougar tail but the hightailing animal shows a short white tail as it disappears under cover of the slope.

Open water drama: Who on land is intently observing the gaggle of Canada geese and pair of mallard ducks? March 15, 2020 Photo: Judy Isacoff

Did the click of my camera or my movements lowering it give away my presence? I had unknowingly photographed the tuft-eared bobcat (Lynx rufus) while the birds and pondscape had my full attention. The rear and back of the bobcat in retreat appeared to me to be a larger animal than when sighted other times ambling in full view. I attribute this impression to its winter coat. I was not the only one interested in the birds! What might have happened if I had not scared the cat?

Overwintered parsnips with earthworms. March 19, 2020. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Returning home, parsnips and carrots beckon from underground in my garden. A bed of each spent the winter where they grew, a blanket of leaves thrown over them. Warming weather prompts me to dig them before they sprout. See the great drumsticks just coaxed from the deep. Before summer, I will sow next year’s crop of Turga parsnips (https://turtletreeseed.org/product-category/vegetables/parnsips/) in a bed where leaf vegetables or legumes grew last summer.

To your health!