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Hope Amid the Damage

Winter in my section of Massachusetts was once predictable. Unwelcome, but predictable. Cold weather arrived in November and started thinking about leaving in mid-March. Temperatures were typically between 10° and 32° F., with an occasional 40+ degree day. Precipitation was almost always snow, maybe mixed with sleet, and occasionally fast, cold, and wild enough to be called a northeaster or blizzard.

But now? This past winter, temperatures dropped to subzero and soared into the 60’s. We had hail, lightning, freezing rain, sleet, and rain. Our snowpack completely melted several times. And even the trees weren’t prepared for the foot of wet, sticky snow that froze to their branches when the temperatures plunged, making them too heavy to withstand the accompanying gale-force winds that roared for days. Limbs plummeted from pine trees, toppling, breaking, or crushing anything beneath them. Dead or damaged trees fell or broke. Deep piles of shattered wood still cover parts of the path in the woods behind our house. (See the photo above.)

Walks have been depressing. And aerobic.

But Spring has arrived in the woods at last, and with it, the reminder that what is a catastrophe for one species is an opportunity for another. So, without further ado, here are late April’s photos of hope. Please imagine the soundtrack of birdsong.

Wild Ginseng blooming on the forest floor.
Dwarf Ginseng blooms on the forest floor.
The eft stage of the Red-spotted Newt beside small sticks and on top of a leaf-strewn forest floor.
The eft stage of the Red-spotted Newt goes for a stroll.
Fiddleheads of an unidentified fern emerging from the forest floor.
Fiddleheads of an unidentified fern.
What I believe is a kidney-shaped mass of Spotted Salamander eggs. It seems to be attached to a stick of wood and are underneath the surface of a vernal pool of shallow water with pine needles beneath it.
Spotted Salamander eggs (I think) in a vernal pool.
A small leaf is unfurling from its bud scales on what is probably a black or yellow birch sapling. It is bent at an odd angle because it was knocked over by a fallen pine branch (not visible in this photo).
A leaf emerges from its bud. The tree was knocked over by a downed branch, but is determined to behave as if all is normal.

4 responses to “Hope Amid the Damage”

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