For a long time, I felt like spring snuck up on me. Like I'd wait for it and wait for it all winter, and suddenly one day the grass would be green and the trees all had leaves and the flowers were in bloom and I somehow missed the steps that got us there. While it was lovely to finally exist in a green and vibrant world, it was also a little like walking into a movie at the climax, having missed the rising action. Over the last few years, I've become more aware of the gradual buildup of the season, the subtle signs that show the world awakening in new life, and this year, especially, I've been keeping an eye on the trees as their buds split and release the year's new growth.
Each tree has a unique pattern of buds and those buds each open in their own time and fashion. I love the pink-bordered symmetry of these striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) buds.
American beech (Fagus grandifolia) buds are long and narrow, pointed on both ends ("cigar-shaped" is the usual description), and right now they seem to be telescoping open. The remind me of those things we used to make as kids by rolling up several sheets of newspaper, cutting a fringe at one end and sliding the sheets apart into a kind of scepter (I tried to find a picture of this online and it does not appear to be a thing. I guess I'll have to try to recreate them with my kids, so you know what I'm talking about).
I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember what kind of tree these leaves came from. American hophornbeam, maybe? Anyway, they look so cheerful and ready for spring I had to include them anyway.
Of course, along with spring things, I continue to see many sights that have been around all winter, like these polypore fungi. I think this is violet toothed polypore (Trichaptum biforme). I've seen it all over the place all winter, though I haven't seen any actual violet specimens (and I keep forgetting to look for the teeth).
Another fungus I learned this winter, which is easy to spot because birch trees are easy to spot, is the birch polypore (Piptoporus botulinus). Learning natural history can be a slow process (although I'm beginning to think I'm just slow at everything), and learning fungus seems to be extra slow, so I'll be happy to get two species per year.