Marching Toward Spring at Pinecliff

Spring is coming. Spotting this sweet clump of snowdrops peeking through the brown leaves on the woodland floor, I felt a little jolt of joy at the prospect. It’s been a long, albeit happily cold, winter and the longer days and signs of returning life tempt thoughts of the warm spring days that are soon to arrive. But before they do arrive in full force, let’s take the slow road while watching the season unfold in little bits and spats over the next few weeks.

Wacky Wednesday this afternoon was spent hiking at Pinecliff Sanctuary in Chappaqua. Pinecliff is one of the properties maintained by the Saw Mill River Audubon.It’s 7-acres were donated to the New Castle Land Conservancy in 1969 and has been a part of the Audubon since 1975. Pinecliff Sanctuary has 1/4 mile boardwalk which traverses a swamp, passes by a pond, and links up with a couple of short woodland trails which leave and then reconnect the boardwalk at varying points. A gentleman who is a neighbor of the sanctuary greeted us as we arrived with a report about some of the wildlife he’d spotted recently. “We heard the peepers the past few days,” he began, “but it’s gotten colder again, so you may not hear them today.” He went on to tell us that the muskrats had been very active lately and that there were several mallards in the pond. His care and enthusiasm for the Sanctuary were obvious, and during our visit, he was the only other person we saw, later, walking his dog along the boardwalk.

The kids lead the way down the boardwalk where we watched a quad of mallards doing the dating dance on the pond–or at least, that’s what it appeared to be. The chirrup of the spring peepers penetrated the woods when we stopped and listened quietly. Bits of purple skunk cabbage could be seen pushing its way up through the mud around the swamp’s edge and various types of spongy mosses carpeted the ground around the bases of the trees and along the woodland trails. The active muskrats did not grace us with a visit, but the damp, humus-y smell of the woods following the rain was reward enough.

As a sidebar, my eldest daughter, Stella, wanted me to title this post Wacky Wednesday Lookout because we found a tick attached to my middle one’s ear this morning. It occurred to me yesterday afternoon at some point that it was getting to be time to start checking my girls again, but the thought got away. Always trust those parenting instincts. I don’t know if i was a deer tick–it was much larger than those teensy, flesh colored creeps that I’ve tweezed off during the summer, and it was dark brown–though it probably was. In any case, I guess that they’re waking up, too.

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