As a coastal California native I’ve learned not only to see but appreciate the subtlety of the change in seasons. These last few weeks have afforded me the opportunity to see a slow progression of the shift into spring where the seasons are much more distinct. First with a ground flower here or there such as the red, white and sessile trilliums. Then we started to see a carpet of green under the still bare forest. Slowly the trees started not only to leaf out but trees like the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and the white or pink Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) brightened up our paths.
While we have begun our northern migration ahead of many birds the Cardinal, Mockingbird and Robin sing our wake up calls. Red wing black birds trade off singing with the Grackles and Swallows zip by our heads plucking insects from the air. Butterflies have unfurled their wings to meet the early flowers. We’ve seen the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Zebra Swallowtail (Protographium marcellus) and beautiful Luna Moth (Actius luna).
The warm and cold days trade off in a battle of weather fronts. One day it’s tank tops and the next my down jacket. While trees on the mountain tops are still bare the trees in the lower elevations are now beginning to fill out and it’s getting harder to see through the branches. Green is everywhere. If it’s not in the forest then it’s the bright green grasses these states are famous for.
On the coast of Delaware the signs of spring show up in a different way. During a cold but lovely walk along the beach we stopped to notice a beached horseshoe crab. In our delay we not only caught the spring migrating dolphins and local porpoises hunting together but we also saw a humpback whale and it’s baby fishing not 40 yards from where we stood. It was an incredible sight.
Soon we’ll be in DC to explore our nations capital. An experience I am truly excited about. It’s sure to be a whole different kind of ecology than we’ve been seeing these last few months.