Sunday, February 27, 2011

Changing of the Seasons at Japan House Pond: February 27

Our world teetered between winter and spring today for my fourth visit of the year to the Japan House Pond. A few scattered patches of snow remain at the University of Illinois Arboretum, but for the first time this year the surface of the pond rippled free of ice.

A group of Canada Geese rested along the edge of the pond, warily watching me as I walked closer. The soundtrack of today's visit was provided by different groups of geese staking out nesting territory around the pond.

Most of the geese took to the water as I came around behind them through the hawthorn grove, but one remained ensconced on the shore long enough for me to pull it in with my lens.

The receding snow revealed evidence of last year beneath the Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum). The dried foliage and fruit littered the ground under the towering trees.

In the hawthorn grove, barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata) sprouted through a decomposing layer of leaves.

The mahogany buds of the red maples (Acer rubrum) have begun to open, providing a small glimpse of the color that is soon to explode and cover the tree.

With the disappearance of the ice, life around the pond takes a much different energy. The stillness of winter is gone, replaced by the constant movement of the water's surface. The cacophony of geese fills the air where a snow-covered woods once stood vacant of sound. The changing of the seasons marches on at Japan House Pond.

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