In many years, this day is still held in silence, often under a blanket of snow. The long winter drawing to a close, the daylight growing stronger with each passing day but the cold wind still cutting through.
Right on schedule the skunks are awake and looking for a mate - a good way to remember this is to imagine skunks look for a valentine (mid Feb love is in the air and it's the smell of skunks). Squirrels have been changing their chattering and can be found gathering nest materials, yep, squirrels are mating too.
The redwing blackbirds have started singing and chasing competitors away from their perch and the migratory waterfowl have been making their way through the area.
A walk in the woods in early spring shows a quiet hidden world, for at first glance everything is bare and brown. The trees are empty, the ground still covered in leaves, mud covers everything else.
Then you sit. A fallen tree as a bench. You close your eyes and you start to listen. At first you hear the wind in the trees, sandhill cranes call as they fly overhead, then the small trickle as the water seeps through the soil, sounds of small insects moving just under the leaf litter.
Eyes open you can now see the tiny red velvet mite walking over leaves (no they won't hurt you). Those leaves are just barely covering the emerging green leaves of the spring beauty. Next to that you notice a stalk sticking out of the ground, scaly it looks almost like an asparagus -it's not- it is one of the earliest wildflowers - the Coltsfoot! As you watch the Coltsfoot, looking around for more, you spot a snake sunning on a branch nearby -an eastern racer? Knowing there are very few venomous snakes in Ohio you sit and observe it slowly warming in the morning sun. Respectfully you give it space and head back to your car.
Sometimes when I say take a walk, what I mean is go outside but be still. Walk slow, quiet your mind, breathe and observe.
All this happened within 20 feet from the parking area.
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Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.