Harbingers of Spring

March 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The birthing of spring at 7800 feet above sea level is a slow process despite the unusually warm temperatures of February this year.  Heavy wet snows aren't unusual in March and April, nor are they dreaded, and the paucity of this winter's snow makes the spring snows even more welcome - and needed.  Nevertheless, the change is coming.  The bluebirds have arrived and are checking out their box while darting from perch to perch looking for insects in the dry ground cover.  The bull elk are still wearing their antlers but probably not much longer.  

One of the most visible signs of early spring is the willows as color creeps into their stems, shown below in heavy growth along the North Fork of the Poudre River. As an aside, the North Fork originates in the mountains west of this location, and, joined by several small tributaries, it meanders down past an ancient volcanic ring dyke and through two reservoirs to join the Poudre which, in turn, is part of the Platte-Missouri River System.  Here it is flowing through the Carpenter Ranch and providing water to the willow growth.  At higher elevations, the willows are a delicacy for moose.

Other signs of high country spring are not so obvious although perhaps just as colorful.  As one YouTube photographer advocates, when you can't readily find something to photograph, get your macro lens and look more closely, maybe even crawl around.  Crawling wasn't necessary for this image of aspen tree buds that are now opening, but getting in close was.  Superficially, the buds are little fuzzy things, but inside that micro-mop there are colors, and almost complimentary ones at that.  Color, just on a different scale!

The pasque flowers (crocus) will soon break through the ground cover along with tiny yellow flowers and white ones.  The irises come in early June and then the meadow will be alive with color.  Springtime in slow motion!!



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