Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The remains of winter

The rain stopped. My forsythia burst into bloom. The hyacinth buds are fat and purple. I headed out of town, looking for the first wildflowers of the year, the skunk cabbages.

I passed a field of them; too soggy to walk there yet. I drove on, delighting in the earliest of the new leaves; green fairy lights along the stems of the salmonberry shrubs, inch-high green fountains on the tops of the elderberry stalks.

And then I thought; it's been a difficult, grumpy winter. I was shut in for a while with an injured back, and then too tired to celebrate the cold weather. And here comes the spring already, and I've missed out on the beauties of our brown and grey back country sleepy season.

I pulled over in a nondescript spot on an empty road, grabbed the camera and went to find the remains of winter.

Morton Lake road. Slow going. Logging trucks use this road, pounding through the potholes, digging them deeper. I followed a camper, watching it tip from side to side as it maneuvered through and around the holes.

Light and reflections in the potholes.

The BC rainforest "bush", as we call it, is a messy, knotty, booby-trapped, ankle-snapping, wet jungle; fallen trees on top of fallen trees, intertwined with ferns and salmonberry canes, thorny, tough blackberry vines, murderous Devil's Club, dead sticks, rotting stumps and new red alder and evergreen trees, all smothered under a slippery blanket of moss. In the summer, all this is covered with a froth of green leaves; prettier, but deceptive.

The low afternoon sun highlights every tree, shining through the moss.

Mossy giant, caught in the open.

If I could get to the base of one of these monsters without a chain saw and ropes, I would probably find the moss (several inches thick) and the bark underneath teeming with life; assorted beetles and grubs, fungal threads, predators like millipedes and spiders. From the side of the road, I noticed the licorice ferns (about two thirds of the way down); these send their long rhizomes down the stem underneath the moss coverlet, and stay green all winter.

The tree may look static from a distance, but it is already covered with white flower buds. Here's a mid-section.

Wide spot in a creek, as it slows to run under the road. A pair of ducks were dabbling in the muck when I arrived, but they quickly hurried around the bend.

Standing water on the far side. With glowing moss sporangia. Dead, rotting leaves, next summer's compost, underwater. And is that a pop can? Shame!

Evergreen ferns and last year's leaves.

Just moss on a log.

Dead leaves and alder catkins by the side of the road.

I found my skunk cabbage. And fresh red alder catkins. Coming right up!

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