Winter Blues Cured by Winter Greens

This is forest turf: not grass, but a sedge, probably Pennsylvania sedge. Its clumping, cascading form never needs mowing. Having taken a summer nap on Pennsylvania sedge, it is kind to lawn grass allergic folks like myself.

Here is what I saw on the way to one of my favorite places in the Sourlands: two little lowlands beside Rock Brook that will be filled with Royal, Cinnamon, and Interrupted Ferns and Skunk Cabbage in a few months.

By the time I reached this fuzzy tripartite leaf, I had forgotten this afternoon's trying trip to the grocery store. Have I mentioned how I find public displays of Bluetooth irksome?

Partridgeberry (Michella repens) find relief from the deer hoof superhighway that runs along the pond by nestling alongside a fallen black birch.

Betula species are a wonderful part of the forest. Their seeds (those uneaten by wintering birds) germinate readily on decaying tree trucks in canopy gaps. As the "nurse tree" decays the Betula displays a set of stilt-like legs. As a return favor, Betula species decay nicely and often nurse other species, like this partridgeberry.

Those of us who are aware of the natural world have tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge. It can be bitter.

Here, spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana) grows among the buttressing roots of an American elm (Ulmus americana). Numerous elms near our house have succumbed to Dutch elm disease or some other pathogen. A few near the brook still thrive, and a sapling (progeny of the deceased) at the edge of our yard shoots up several feet each year.

I love their bright grey bark, their rough leaves. I root for the underdog, go elm trees.

“An alga took a ‘likin’ to a fungus.” Moss and lichens grow atop some unidentified black stuff. Reminds me of fern roots. Anyone know? Please write. [Go ask the mice!]

This is a sweet little plant that looks like cleavers, but lacks barbs. It has tiny hairs along the leaf margins. Perhaps marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre).

Neighboring the Galium is this spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa). I looked forward to its delicate white blooms.

Single strands of moss and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) find purchase on the trunk of a tree.