Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day Of Spring, Kind Of

Knowing that today, the official arrival of spring, would be snowy and otherwise nasty, I took a ride yesterday, looking for signs of spring. Normally, snow would be mostly gone and buds on willows and certain shrubs would be visibly swollen. Some years, pussy willow catkins are out by now. But not this year.

This year, deep snow covers the ground and it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. And trees and shrubs exhibit no signs of spring. As far as annual plants and herbaceous perennials, they may as well be on the far side of the moon, for all the good they do us, hidden as they are beneath snow and ice.

Even our streams and rivers remain locked in winter’s unrelenting grip. The Passagassawaukeag River, a tidal river near my house, is covered with ice. A large waterfall on the “Passy” is frozen solid. Imagine, a frozen waterfall. And small streams are totally frozen and covered with snow, offering little hope for anxious anglers waiting to get out and wet a line on April 1, opening day of fishing season.

I did find one, little ray of hope. A steep bank on the south-facing side of the Passy River was peppered with not-quite-open coltsfoot blossoms. These are by and far the earliest wildflower to appear and the sight of them cheered me greatly. On the other hand, the coltsfoot bloomed in February last year.

So happy spring…I guess.

In other news, I got an email yesterday from someone representing Conde Nast, wanting photos of my wild plant tours and some high-resolution photos of the wild plants. I had never heard of Conde Nast and so thought I was being scammed. I didn’t just fall off the hay wagon yesterday, you know. I wrote back asking for some kind of explanation, only to find out, much to my chagrin, that Conde Nast is the publisher of Gourmet, Bon App├ętit and Epicurious magazines and they are creating a special issue magazine with a directory of foragers from around the country. And they are going to include me. 

I sent them the plant photos. Luckily, my friend and publisher Nancy Randolph had some photos of me on field trips with groups, so we satisfied Conde Nast’s request. Nancy mentioned to me later that after the magazine comes out, I may get calls from some big-time New York papers and if that happens, I shouldn’t accuse the caller of not really being who they say they are.

But what can I say? I’m from Waldo Maine. I don’t get out much.

Keep the faith. Spring, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, must eventually arrive. The sun has made its trek north and casts its light on earth from a more direct, powerful angle.

Oh, one other thing. I’m including a photo here and it has three captions. They are: Tom’s place on the first day of fall, Tom’s place on the first day of winter and Tom’s place on the first day of spring. I may or may not include the one other season we have here in Waldo, Maine, the Fourth of July.

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