Nature Notes

Contrasts in a Season of Transition

By Sydney Chandler

In this season of transition, contrasts fill the landscape: warmth vs. cold, thawing vs. freezing, movement vs. stillness, and chatter vs. silence. In the spring, we can both observe and experience these contrasts as the natural world awakens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIce formations on walking trail

 Beautiful ice formations and nuances in fallen snow still line the trails. The shaded woods has plenty of winter left to share. Melting is occurring, and the cooling nature of this process gives a feeling that an air conditioner is running on the forest floor. In contrast, parts of the forest soak up the sun and have given way to a damp ground below. Many trees, including the small stalks of the American Hazelnut, have melted rings around their base. These melted circles offer a perfect circular welcome mat for spring flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmerican Hazelnut with melted rings

 The sound of melting on these sunny days is a calm drip, drip, drip. Piles of melting snow softly compress and settle. These slow sounds contrast the energetic activity of birds throughout the forest. Scampering, feeding, singing, and flying are heard all around. Similarly, squirrels run through the trees, deer search for early growth and buds, geese announce their return, and birds excitedly rush about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunshine in the forest

 In the warmer weather, we no longer need to move with urgency to stay warm. Opting to pause offers opportunity. It’s the chance to observe excitement and energy as well as calm peace. It’s a chance to feel the warm sun from above contrast the cool from below. It’s a chance to see two seasons simultaneously present on the landscape. On your next visit, pause and take time to really soak in the world around you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARocking chair in the sunshine

Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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