As a wild plant enthusiast, winter stands as a downtime with few redeeming qualities. But there are five things I like about winter. These are:
Okay, these sound redundant. But when cooped up inside with no place to go and nothing to do except feed the woodstove, redundancy becomes the norm.
By now, you see that I really don’t care much for winter, despite the deceptive title for this blog entry. I just did that to gain your attention. But now, since we are nearing mid-February, the light at the end of the cold, dark tunnel has begun to shine. Soon, we’ll see tangible signs of spring.
So coltsfoot really stands as the plant world’s truest harbinger of spring.
In another sign of spring, a friend told me that yesterday, he saw a flock of Canada geese flying north. It’s easy to assume that these are returning from the south but that’s just not so. It can’t be, because our lakes and ponds are all frozen solid. These geese must be going from one protected Penobscot Bay harbor to another. The real deal will happen soon, though, and it’s only a matter of weeks before we will see those long, ragged ‘Vs’ of migrating geese and hear their echo-chamber chorus of honking.
And despite snow, freezing rain and cold temperatures, the sun rises higher in the sky with each passing day. Soon, the deep slant of the winter sun will give way to our star casting a more direct light, not so offensive to drivers and more conducive to starting new plants on windowsills.
For me at least, winter takes a beating when people begin calling and asking me to do wild-plant presentations come spring. Just discussing spring, wild plants and an end to winter sets my spirit soaring.
Finally, and there’s no denying it, we are on the downslope, winter has passed its prime and spring, with every wonderful thing that accompanies it, will soon arrive. Now that’s what I really like about winter.
An avid writer and naturalist, Tom writes four regular columns and a multitude of features. He wrote a long running award winning column "Waldo County Outdoors" and a garden column for Courier Publications