Nature Notes

Spring is Moving in

By Boak Wiesner

One sure moving sign of spring is the water flowing everywhere. In the ravine, the little rivulet trickles down towards Lake Minnewashta, then Minnetonka, then the creek, then the Mississippi, and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. Reminds me that soon very many neotropical migrants, birds, that is, will be back. I grew up near Minnehaha so it will always be “the” creek to me.

Red Oaks are beginning to leaf out pumping water and nutrients from their roots up to the ends of the twigs where they are the source of material for the new leaves. Spring is bustin’ out all over! Some of their neighbors still have last year’s leaves on them. I wonder what makes one tree hold its leaves while another doesn’t? There’s probably some physiological reason but still there’s a lot of variability in natural systems.

Up in the sun, some Sugar Maples are a bit farther ahead with their leafing out. Soon flowers will appear – the yearly cycle is turning once again. Each species has its own time of blooming. Their flow of sap is pretty much finished. But I notice some critters up in the leaves where I wish I could be.

A Gray Squirrel clambers out on a branch, one of several I watch her sample as she nibbles the twigs to get a drink of sap. I’m pretty sure I can see evidence that’s she’s nursing right now. If you have never tried freshly tapped sap, I highly recommend it. It’s cold and refreshing with just a touch of sweetness. I sure envy that squirrel right now!

Her little “cousin” is also at work up in a nearby tree. It paused for an instant for its portrait, likely the only time it was still the whole day. They usually act like wind-up toys and are fun to watch.

Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer



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