Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring, Briefly

Spring was here - really!  We had guaranteed signs Friday on the trails above Bull Creek.  The snow had melted and we were out in short sleeved shirts enjoying the sun, but more important was the awakening of spring creatures. 

First there was the fluttering dark brown butterfly with yellow outlining its trailing wing edges.  The Mourning Cloak butterflies were out, scouting for food and love, not necessarily in that order.  They have been nestled under the bark of trees all winter, dreaming of the spring.  It doesn't sound cozy to us, but it seems to work for them.

Like Goatweed Leafwings and anglewings (Commas and Questionmarks), they are driven by genetic forces beyond their control to spend the winter as adults, hiding under the loose bark of trees.  The call of the first warm day was irresistible and they flew frenetically, seldom bothering to land. Today we awakened to find the sky overcast and the winds blustery, forcing them to seek shelter again.  We can snuggle up to the fire but they are back in their lonely solitude until the next warm spell.

Several more curves in the trail led us to the pond that was covered in ice four days ago.  Now we could hear the insistent chirping of Spring Peepers.  There were only a few voices now, awaiting the recruitment of the chorus we will hear in a few weeks.  This pond is on a rocky hillside a hundred feet above the creek with no other source of water except runoff from the rocky slopes.  How they got here originally remains a mystery but they seem to enjoy the solitude, away from the ravenous bullfrogs of the valley.

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