How about that ice storm?!
I hope everyone was able to stay safe and warm. We were out of power for 22hrs and 50 minutes (but who's counting).
Watching the oak trees, heavy with leaves and ice, tall and majestic, sway was both beautiful and terrifying. The movement and form was reminiscent of a weeping willow in a summer breeze, but at any moment the tree or limbs could come crashing down.
With all the heavy ice and snow, I was curious how the trees covered in the Oriental Bittersweet were doing (post about that invasive can be found here). So I made my way out to Walton Woods - while WW has a fantastic spring wildflower show, it is also super overrun with invasive species - most notably Oriental Bittersweet and Winged Burning Bush (species profile coming soon).
Walton Woods is such a unique park - thank you city for putting up front parking! You feel as if you're deep in the woods, until a car drives past on Mechanicsburg Rd and you realize you are, in fact, still right on the edge of town. I made it maybe 1/4 of the way down the trail, deep in the grove of burning bush (gathering photos for the upcoming post), nearing the area where the bittersweet begins, when all of a sudden from behind a bush popped a good sized buck (deer)! Now all of my farm girl knowhow comes into play as I slowly back away as it is rutting season and this guy isn't very frightened of me. He lets me leave in peace with only a parting "huff". But alas, we'll have to wait for another day to see how the vine entangled trees are doing.
By that time I was ready for a proper walk, even though it was getting dark (at 4pm) and on and off drizzles. Too dark for WMP, didn't want to drive all the way to the bog, Barnes Preserve was just right!
When I arrived the sprinkles had subsided, the fog was rising, it was beautifully moody. The kind of ambient light that surrounds everything, creating a surreal world out of the familiar. It was too dark to focus on the details so the shapes and tones of the woods really stood out. As I started down the path something caught my eye, what appeared to be a bright fungus growing all over the downed tree. I raced through the fieldguides in my head trying to think what sort of fungus grows so large and bright but kept coming up with a blank. And then it hit me... it was snow! While the rains melted most of the other traces of snow, this bit on the fallen oak stayed bright and surreal in the ambient light. I laughed at myself the rest of the way around the trail!
I do so love this time of year to look at his the tree branches grow, the last image shows the whispy weeping willow, a twisted wandering oak, and the straight (maple? cherry?) growth all side by side.
Don't forget, winter brings new sights, new things to observe, bundle up and get out there!
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.