Life At A Different Level
I was greeted by a whole new world yesterday, as I hiked up the mountain. I’d been down in Florida and not able to check on things up here for more than a week. When I left, autumn was on the downswing. Now, I am greeted by what looks like a winter landscape. Just browns, blacks, whites, grays and a stray bit of evergreen. This is good! I love to have the seasons change around me, welcoming each one as it approaches.
As winter creeps into our area, it’s time for me to change my focus. From butterflies and insects, to bark and buds.
These are the buds of Spicebush, Lindera benzoin. They are out there in the forest, right now, just waiting for spring, to burst into a soft wash of lemon yellow.
Not Chinese Chestnut
The bark of Spicebush puts me in mind of the young branches of Chinese Chestnut, Castanea mollissima, a tree that is often confused with American Chestnut, Castenea dentata. The Chinese Chestnut has lenticels (breathing pores on the bark of trees) that are pronounced and feel like course salt on a pretzel. I think this bark looks like a salted pretzel, like the Chinese Chestnut. This is the bark of Spicebush.
Another Shade Of Gray
Another small tree bark that I am working to get to know is Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. Both Witch Hazel and Spicebush are small trees or large shrubs that grow in look-alike groupings. I can count on the bark of each, to let me know which I am looking at, during the winter when there are few other clues. Witch Hazel (above) also has visible lenticels, but they are elongated, fewer, and the bark in general has a rosey-gray appearance, while the coloring of the Spicebush bark is more a green-gray.
I look forward to a season of gentle coloring. Almost monotone, like a black and white pen sketch, beautiful in its simplicity.